By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON — After a comeback victory last night, the Muskegon Lumberjacks once again had to climb out of a hole this Saturday night.
This time, the Jacks couldn’t quite complete the comeback.
The Lumberjacks trailed by two goals in the second period, tied the game just before the third period, but fell just short of completing another two-goal comeback, resulting in a 5-4 loss against the Lincoln Stars at Mercy Health Arena in front of 2,289 fans.
Muskegon is now 17-17-4 on the season, good for 38 points and fifth place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.
The Lumberjacks will play three games next weekend, starting on Friday with a home contest against Madison. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m.
Muskegon will then head on the road for games against Madison on Saturday and Chicago on Sunday.
“We worked hard and competed at the end,” Lumberjacks coach Mike Hamilton said. “We just had too many lapses in the game where we were losing structure and our game plan. You have to play a full 60 (minutes) if you want to win in this league and we didn’t do that today.”
The Stars opened the scoring late in the first period with a pair of goals 42 seconds apart.
Travis Treloar gave Lincoln a 1-0 lead 17:13 into the first period, then Colby Enns added a tally at the 17:55 mark to increase the Stars advantage to 2-0.
The Lumberjacks quickly responded with a goal 19:20 into the opening period from Rhett Pitlick to cut their deficit in half.
The Stars led 2-1 at the end of the first period and had a 10-6 shots on goal advantage.
Lincoln added another goal 2:46 into the second period while having a two-man advantage for 32 seconds.
Ty Glover tucked the puck under Muskegon goaltender Eric Green to give the Stars a 3-1 lead early in the middle stanza.
The Lumberjacks responded 6:06 into the second period with a tally from Danil Gushchin to cut Lincoln’s advantage to 3-2.
Muskegon tied the game 3-3 at the 12:56 mark of the second period on a goal from Cameron Berg.
The Stars took the lead back 17:35 into the second period with a goal from former Lumberjack Brock Bremer.
Lincoln led 4-3 after two periods of play and held a 22-14 shots on goal advantage.
The Stars increased their lead to 5-3 with a power play goal from Christian Sarlo at the 6:52 mark of the third period.
The Lumberjacks were given a great opportunity to get back in the game, receiving a four-minute power play after a Muskegon player was hit with a high stick with a little over four minutes remaining in regulation.
Muskegon managed to convert the power play at the 17:24 mark of the third period on a goal by Jack Williams to cut the deficit to 5-4.
The Lumberjacks remained on the power play for another two minutes, then pulled their goalie with a little over a minute left to gain a two-man advantage.
Muskegon couldn’t net a second goal during the power play, falling short of sending the game to overtime for the second straight night.
The Lumberjacks outshot Lincoln during the third period by a 15-3 margin and 29-25 throughout the contest.
Green stopped 18 of 22 shots in net for Muskegon.
The Lumberjacks were led offensively by Pitlick, Berg and Gushchin with a goal and an assist, while Alex Gaffney and Dylan Gratton each chipped in with two assists.