Vs. CHICAGO STEEL
L.C. WALKER ARENA, MUSKEGON, MICH.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2011
The Muskegon Lumberjacks, eager to climb the Eastern Conference standings, get a third crack at the rival Chicago Steel tonight. The Jacks begin a four-game homestand and will host nine of their next 13 after five of their first six occurred on the road. The Steel, who lead the season series 2-0 on the strength of two home wins, start a five-game trip tonight.
The Lumberjacks (1-5-0, 2 points / 8th in East) will be seeking to atone for last Saturday’s home opener, a 4-0 loss to defending league champ Dubuque. Muskegon had no trouble scoring the next afternoon in Chicago, with Dakota Klecha (2 G, A) and Josh Henke (3 A) each contributing three points to the cause. However, the Steel rallied with four goals in the third to top the Jacks 7-4 Sunday.
The Steel (4-4-0, 8 points / 6th in East) ran their modest winning streak to two Friday night in Chicago with a 6-4 comeback win over Team USA. After being outshot 20-5 in the first period and trailing 2-0, the Steel woke up in the final 40 minutes on the back of Andrew Miller, who netted his second straight hat trick. He is now tied with Zach Saar for the team lead in goals with six. Goalie Mathias Dahlstrom stopped a USHL season-high 44 shots in his fourth win.
- Klecha netted the Jacks’ first two-goal game of the season Sunday at Chicago. The Taylor, Mich., native and future Ferris State Bulldog also collected an assist for a three-point performance, matching linemate Henke’soutput. Defenseman Ryan Bullock has the only other three-point game for Muskegon so far.
- Bullock leads Muskegon in points (5) and Klecha is tops in goal-scoring (3), but the Jacks offense has been quite diversified through six games. Ten different players have goals – Matt DeBlouw, Ryan Lomberg and Travis Belohrad each have two – and 14 Lumberjacks have at least a point.
- Muskegon’s offense has been slightly below USHL average (2.67 goals/game), but goal prevention has been the culprit behind the team’s sputtering start. The Jacks have surrendered 5.67 red lights per tilt, most in the 16-team league. Des Moines has given up the second-most at 4.50.
- Although they’ve dropped a pair in Chicago, a fair share of Jacks have found the scoresheet in the season series. Joona Manninen drilled his first USHL goal last Saturday, joining DeBlouw, Lomberg, Bullock and Michael Moran as lamp-lighters against the Steel.
STEEL CAGE MATCH
- Chicago will go for two straight home wins Friday night vs. Team USA before traveling four hours to Muskegon to finish their weekend. Pending Friday’s game, Swedish goalie Dahlstrom has played every minute for the Steel on the season, stopping more than 91 percent of shots faced in his rookie USHL campaign.
- West Michigan’s Saar(Plainwell) and fellow second-year forward Michael Fallon lead the Steel with seven points each, but they took a back seat to league sophomores Miller (hat trick) and Jimmy Devito (four points) in Chicago’s 7-4 comeback win over Muskegon last Sunday.
- Chicago’s penalty kill continues to be excellent, with a 92.9 percent success rate that’s less than a percentage point below Dubuque’s league-leading mark. But the Jacks may have a secret, as they’ve scored the only two power-play goals against the Steel this season, with Moran and DeBlouw connecting.