By Steve Gunn
MUSKEGON – So this is what the Muskegon Lumberjacks can do when they’re at full strength.
As it turned out, the Jacks were saving it all up for Saturday.
Anthony Del Gaizo and Matej Pekar each scored twice, propelling the Lumberjacks to an exciting 6-2 revenge victory over Sioux City in front of 2,135 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.
Del Gaizo scored his league-leading 31st and 32nd goals of the season, while Pekar rang up two goals and an assist.
The Lumberjacks improved to 23-19-2 on the season.
“This was a good response after last night, which was a disappointing type of game,” said Lumberjacks Coach John LaFontaine. “It just goes to show you in this league, it’s easier to play with the lead than from behind.
“Tonight we played a full 60 minutes. We haven’t always done that. It was nice to see.”
The Lumberjacks got off to a great start in a pretty rough first period, which featured two fights, 20 minutes worth of penalties for Sioux City and 18 for Muskegon.
Pekar opened the scoring at the 5:03 mark with a power play goal when he deflected a shot that came from the point into the Sioux City net.
Del Gaizo made it 2-0 Muskegon at the 6:27 mark when he tipped in a loose puck from close range.
The Jacks did a great job of penalty-killing in the first period and early in the second. They had two double-minor penalties, leaving them shorthanded for a full eight minutes, but managed to keep the puck out of their goal.
Overall Muskegon held Sioux City scoreless in five power play opportunities.
“I thought that was huge, when we were up 2-0 and the guys killed it off,” LaFontaine said about the first four-minute shorthanded situation. “Actually our penalty-killing was great all night.”
The Jacks broke things open in the second period.
Vincent de Mey put Muskegon up 3-0 when he scored with an off-balance shot as he skated toward the Musketeer goal while being taken down by a Sioux City defender.
The Musketeers bounced back with a pair of goals by Dylan Mills at 7:29 and Luke Johnson at 8:19 to make the score 3-2.
But the Jacks responded with Pekar’s second goal at the 13:25 mark, a nice spin-around goal by Emelio Pettersen at 18:15, and finally a shorthanded breakaway goal by Del Gaizo at 19:40 of the second period.
The game was scoreless in the third period. Muskegon outshot Sioux City 33-23.
Muskegon backup goalie Zach Borgiel got the start and played very well, stopping 21 of 23 shots, including two great saves on Musketeer breakaways, to pick up his third victory of the season.
“All three of his wins have been in tough games, two of them on the road,” LaFontaine said. “Today was his first home win, so it was nice to see he could stay focused at home. He came up big when he had to, that’s for sure.”