The Muskegon Lumberjacks showed Saturday night they have bright spots in their armor, but they also still have a number of holes to work on and clean up.
The Lumberjacks responded after a horrendous 7-3 loss to Madison on Friday night, with a 5-4 win on Saturday night.
While the contest was close, fans had to hold on to their seats for a wild ride at Mercy Health Arena in downtown Muskegon.
The Lumberjacks gave fans reasons to jump out of their seats, as Muskegon sped to an exciting 4-0 lead midway through the second period.
Leading the charge in the excitement was forward Joey Larson, along with Quinn Hutson and Jacob Guevin.
Larson gave Muskegon a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on assists from Hutson and Guevin. Larson also scored the opening goal of the second period, this time with helpers from Tyler Hotson and Jake Braccini.
The pair of goals for Larson placed him tied at the No. 2 spot in the USHL scoring race with 13 goals on the season.
Something Jacks fans have been waiting for to see, players stepping up beside the even-handed Guevin who now has 18 assists, placing him at the No. 2 spot in USHL assists leaders.
Hutson also stepped up with Guevin in the first period as the two set up Ben Strinden for a goal and a 2-0 first-period lead. The Boston University commit also gave Muskegon a 4-0 lead midway through the second period with his tenth goal of the season.
But after the exciting start for Muskegon, fans started to see the team they worry about seeing.
Madison slowly started to chip away at the Lumberjacks’ lead, tallying a pair of goals less than two minutes apart at the closing of the second period.
Strinden gave Muskegon a 5-2 lead after he tallied his second goal of the game early in the third period, again on a helper from Hutson and also David Hymovitch.
But then defenseman Tyler Dunbar gave up a roughing penalty less than two minutes later that lead to a Madison power-play goal and a 5-3 Muskegon lead.
Muskegon then gave up an empty net goal with less than two minutes left in the game, giving Madison hopes to force overtime.
Thankfully, Muskegon held on for the 5-4 win against a solid Madison team who is now 11-6-2 and in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
The win shows Muskegon’s 4-game winning streak on the road was not a chance happening as the Lumberjacks are now 7-8-1-2 and holding sixth place.
However, the Lumberjacks still have to show they can hold on to commanding leads if they want to climb up in the playoff race.
Muskegon goaltender Alexander Kuleshov played solid in the win, stopping 26 of the 29 shots he faced as the Lumberjacks outshot Madison 37-30.
The Lumberjacks now have three players in the top 20 for points leaders in the USHL (Larson 13 goals, Guevin 18 assists, and Hutson 10 goals, 10 assists), and are showing signs this team has what it takes to be playoff contenders.
Muskegon will be tested back at home again next weekend as it hosts Cedar Rapids for a triple-header weekend with games on Friday, Saturday and a Sunday matinee.
Check out photos from the action shot by Sondra Workman.