Lumberjacks fail to produce much offense, fall to Sioux City 4-1 in weekend opener

By Steve Gunn and Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – On the night when the Muskegon Lumberjacks finally had all their top scorers in the ice at the same time, the team’s offense went quiet.

The Jacks outshot the visiting Sioux City Musketeers 32-29, but came out on the short end of a 4-1 score in front of 2.175 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.

The two teams will finish their weekend series on Suturday with a rematch in Muskegon at 7:15 p.m.

The Jacks, who fell to 22-19-2 on the season, were excited about Friday’s game, because forwards Wyatt Bongiovanni and Mikael Hakkarainen were returning from injuries.

That allowed Muskegon to play with all of its top point producers for the first time in months, following a series of injuries that left different guys on the injured list at different times.

Hakkarainen came through, scoring for the Lumberjacks in the second period and pulling them within a goal.

But nobody else could get the puck past Sioux City goalie Ben Kraws.

Muskegon’s No. 3 Bray Crowder purses the puck along the board. Photo/Jason Goorman

The home loss was costly – as every loss will be at this point in the season – because the USHL’s Eastern Conference race is very tight, and the Lumberjacks are battling for a playoff spot with 17 regular season games remaining.

“You’ve got to defend your home court, and we’ve got three more home games coming (Saturday and next weekend) and we have to respond and be better,” said Lumberjacks Coach John LaFontaine.

Sioux City took a 1-0 lead just 1:17 into the game on a goal by Dylan Mills.

The Lumberjacks were challenged later in the first period when Vincent de Mey was called for a double minor penalty for high sticking, giving the Musketeers a four-minute power play. But the Jacks killed off the long penalty and only trailed by one at the first break.

Micah Miller added a goal for the visitors at 6:46 of the second period, before Hakkarainen scored at the 16:49 mark to make the score 2-1.

Muskegon was penalized later in the period, and Mills scored 12 seconds into the power play for Sioux City, giving the Musketeers a 3-1 edge after two.

Sioux City’s Cole Koepke added an empty-net goal late in the third period to finish the scoring.

Muskegon goalie Keegan Karki stopped 25 of 29 shots and took the loss.

LaFontaine was not happy with his team’s defense after the game.

“We didn’t defend, we didn’t put the effort into the d-side of the puck, like you are going to have to do this time of year,” the coach said.


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