LocalSportsJournal.com

If there was a time for the Muskegon Lumberjacks to come out of their shell, this weekend against Cedar Rapids was it.

On Friday night, the Lumberjacks turned heads when they tallied a four-goal second period and a 4-2 win over the Rough Riders. The win jumped Muskegon up two places into fourth in the Eastern Conference race, putting Cedar Rapids in fifth place.

On Saturday night, the Lumberjacks made fans nearly fall out of their seats in an exciting 5-2 win.

Between a night that saw eight players ejected for fighting and an incredible third period by Phillip Tresca, it’s safe to say these Lumberjacks have had an awakening.

Tresca perhaps shocked even himself in the third period. The Boston native scored three-straight goals in eight minutes of action, all assisted by Jack Williams who also finished with four helpers on the night.

On Friday, Tresca tallied two goals in less than two minutes of action in the second period. Now he has five goals this weekend which catapults him to No. 13 in the USHL with 10 goals this season.

Ben Strinden also stepped up for Muskegon, scoring two goals of his own. His first giving Muskegon an even 1-1 tie in the second period. Striden’s latter goal came in the third, putting his team up 5-1.

Goaltender Alexander Kuleshov also played strong between the pipes for Muskegon, stopping 19 of 21 shots. Kuleshov had the right kind of support all night as the Lumberjacks outshot Cedar Rapids 43-21.

But before all of the scoring happened for Muskegon, the heat between the Lumberjacks and Cedar Rapids came to a boiling point late in the second period.

Cedar Rapids took a 1-0 lead early in the second period after playing Muskegon to an even 0-0 first period. The lead came to the Rough Riders who had clearly been playing chippy against Muskegon through the game.

At the 5:32 mark, Muskegon’s Quinn Hutson had enough and dropped gloves with Cedar Rapids’ Joe Fleming.

Then at the 14:17 mark, Muskegon really showed its frustration with Cedar Rapids’ chippy style of play as six players dropped the gloves with the ending result, a lot of happy fans.

After the dust cleared, Muskegon’s Noah Ellis, Owen Mehlenbacher and Ethan Whitcomb were sent off the ice with 10 minute fighting misconducts.

Any hockey fan would agree there is nothing like watching a team shed its old skin. The Muskegon Lumberjacks did just that on Saturday.

Before this weekend, the Lumberjacks were sitting in sixth place with a very average 7-8-1-2 record. The team had strung together a four-game winning streak on the road this season and veteran Jacob Guevin has played exceptionally well.

Aside from those two highlights, the Lumberjacks have been a very talented team that fans could accurately say has struggled quite a bit.

But then this weekend happened.

Fourth-place Cedar Rapids came into town for a triple header at Mercy Health Arena. The talented Rough Riders had been battling at the top ranks in the Eastern Conference race for the past two months.

The Lumberjacks have now put down Cedar Rapids on Friday and Saturday nights in exciting gritty fashion, dropped the Rough Riders into sixth place while holding strong in fourth place.

Now fans wait on the edges of their seats for Sunday’s dessert:┬áThe third game of a season-changing triple header against Cedar Rapids.

The Lumberjacks prepare for a 4 p.m. puck drop to complete what they had in mind when they started the weekend, a three-game sweep of the Rough Riders.

Check out some exciting photos from the night shot by Sondra Workman.