By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks sputtered offensively in their first four games of the season, totaling just seven goals and coming away winless.
But this weekend the Lumberjacks offense suddenly woke up, which is good news for fans who may have worried that this might be a very long season.
On Friday on the road, the Jacks scored eight goals to secure their first win of the season. On Saturday, in their season home opener, they ran the score up again in a 7-4 victory over the Team USA Under-17 squad at L.C. Walker Arena.
The Lumberjacks are now 2-4 on the season, good for four points and fifth place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference standings.
Muskegon will travel to face the Chicago Steel on Friday, before hosting the Green Bay Gamblers next Saturday night.
“We had some very pretty goals, but you are not going to win many games putting up just 18 shots,” said Lumberjacks coach Mike Hamilton. “There was some disappointment, but the boys found a way to get a win. It was nice to get some puck luck over the past couple of games.”
The Lumberjacks opened the scoring with a goal from Tanner Edwards at the 1:24 mark of the first period.
Team USA responded at the 6:49 mark with a power play goal by Luke Hughes and the game was tied 1-1 after the first period.
The Lumberjacks took a 2-1 lead with a power play goal by Alex Gaffney at the 7:43 mark of the second period, but Team USA tied the game a little over a minutes later on Hughes’ second goal of the game.
Muskegon took the lead for good with a goal from Alex Konovalov at 11:59 of the second period, and another from Jack Williams on the power play at the 14:03 mark.
Team USA cut the deficit to 4-3 at 16:43 of the second stanza with a power play tally by Jack Devine.
The Lumberjacks killed a penalty during the final two minutes of the second period to maintain a 4-3 advantage heading into the third.
Muskegon added a goal by Danil Gushchin at 6:47 of the third period to take a 5-3 lead. Justin Janicke scored for Team USA 10 minutes later to make it a 5-4 game.
The Lumberjacks regained their two-goal advantage on Gushchin’s second goal of the contest at 17:31 of the third frame. Oliver MacDonald closed out the scoring for the Lumberjacks with an empty net tally with 37 seconds remaining on the clock.
Team USA dominated in shots on goal, 32-18, but could not turn that stat into a victory. Muskegon goaltender Noah Giesbrecht picked up the win in net for the Jacks, stopping 28 of 32 shots.