After a gritty, three-game sweep of visiting Cedar Rapids on Sunday afternoon, Muskegon Lumberjacks fans can consider their team’s season transformation complete.

The Lumberjacks didn’t just beat the Rough Riders on Sunday, Muskegon posted a 3-0 shutout. Not an easy feat to accomplish in the United State Hockey League and a definite statement by the club.

Skating to an even 0-0 first period, Muskegon’s Jacob Braccini put his team up 1-0 early in the second period on assists from Nick Peluso and Gavin McCarthy.

Not two minutes later, Joey Larson gave the Lumberjacks a commanding 2-0 lead with a goal of his own off assists from Quinn Hutson and Nathan McBrayer.

Larson put the cherry on top with an empty-net goal with 30 second left in the game, showing the Rough Riders they were kaput. The goal moved Larson to No. 2 overall in the USHL with 15 tallies this season.

Posting his second shutout in goal this season was Platon Zadorozhny, stopping all 25 Rough Rider shots. Backing the Moskva, Russia native was an aggressive Lumberjacks offense that produced 37 shots on goal.

The exciting three-win weekend puts Muskegon in the driver’s seat of its season with a commanding control of fourth place and eyeing third-place.

Sunday’s win gave Muskegon an extra bump in the Eastern Conference race as it was the only team in the USHL to play on Sunday.

Now the Lumberjacks are just three points away from Madison and Dubuque who hold a tie for the second-place spot with 26 points each. The Lumberjacks are just three points behind with 23 on a 10-8-1-2 record.

The feat the Lumberjacks completed this weekend is quite remarkable when fans look back and see their team was in the basement of the Eastern Conference less than a month ago.

In fact, if anyone said a month ago that Muskegon would bounce up four places by the front half of December, they’d have been called crazy.

But Muskegon has now won 8 of its last 10 games, and point production is at an all-time high this season which is key for any team that wants to compete for a shot at the Clark Cup.

The Lumberjacks now have four players in the Top 20 of the USHL for goals, assists and points.

Larson had his fifth multi-goal game of the season, and is tied at No. 2 for goals in the USHL this season with 15. 

Hutson has 11 goals and 13 assists for Muskegon and is tied at the No. 6 spot for most points in the USHL.

Lumberjacks defenseman Jacob Guevin has 20 assists and is No. 2 in the USHL.  

Phillip Tresca tallied five goals this weekend and now has 10 goals this season and No. 13 in the USHL for goals.

No doubt the Lumberjacks let all of their frustrations out in Saturday’s second period when four players were sent off the ice, all with 10-minute fighting game misconducts.

But that is what a team who wants to win will do. It will claw, scratch and chew its way back to the top.

Cedar Rapids gambled pretty hard on Saturday to play chippy against a Muskegon team it hadn’t yet faced this season.

Muskegon will now face another challenge next weekend on Friday, December 10, when it hosts Team USA which will be looking to respond after getting shutout, 5-0 by the Lumberjacks on November 24.

The Lumberjacks will then face an even bigger challenge when they travel to first-place Chicago which is the best team in the USHL with 34 total points this season.

Check out photos from Sunday’s matinee win, shot by Sondra Workman