By Jason Goorman
The Muskegon Lumberjacks looked to add to their first win of the season on Saturday after Friday’s exciting 6-5 overtime win by hosting the Steel for another showdown at Mercy Health Arena.
Unfortunately for the Lumberjacks, Friday’s win was the only momentum they could find as they fell 4-1 in front of a healthy home crowd.
The Jacks came out energized and ready roll, getting early scoring opportunities in the opening period.
Muskegon was able to capitalize on the early swing, taking a 1-0 lead late in the period off a Tyler Hotson goal. Anthony Cliche set up the tally with a shot that Hotson put into the net on a backhand deflection.
“We did a great job when we were in their zone using our points but we didn’t have enough net presence and traffic in front of the net,” said Muskegon Coach Mike Hamilton whose team snapped a five-game Chicago win streak on Friday.
Penalties ultimately did the Lumberjacks in as Chicago was able to tie the score midway through the second period on a power play goal from Jack Harvey.
Muskegon continued to attack Chicago while keeping the Steel’s offense away from goaltender Carson Limesand who made his second start of the season.
But a late cross checking penalty just before the end of the second period set the Lumberjacks up for a dismal third period.
Despite outshooting Chicago 20-11 through two periods, Muskegon struggled to find the solid opportunities it had early on.
Muskegon defense started the third period solid, holding Chicago to zero shots on goal to kill the Steel’s continued power play from the second period.
But Chicago was able to take a 2-1 lead four minutes later on another power play goal and added a third power play goal for a 3-1 lead with 11 minutes left to play.
“We got to get more kills,” said Hamilton about his team who has been struggling with penalties and power play goals. “We’ve basically been giving up a power play goal a game and we just got to get better.”
The Lumberjacks looked to build on a momentum swing when it killed a 5 on 3 Chicago advantage after taking two tough penalties. The first came after a Quinn Hutson slashing penalty and then Tyler Dunbar added insult to injury, snagging a tripping penalty during the delayed call.
Limesand stepped up in goal during the 5 on 3 Chicago advantage, stopping a plethora of shots by the Steel.
The Lumberjacks were unable to convert the energy from the impressive penalty kill and eventually let in an empty net goal from Chicago’s Jackson Blake.
“We got a little bit away from the game plan and got frustrated. We battled through it, getting the kills but there’s no whining about it,” said Hamilton. “They (Chicago) are a good hockey team and are well coached and have been leading our division for years now.”
Muskegon is now 1-3-1-1 after its home opening weekend and will look to bounce back next weekend on the road for a pair of games in Madison.
Check out photos from the action shot by Leo Valdez