Vs. green bay gamblers
L.C. WALKER ARENA, MUSKEGON, MICH.
saturday, NOVEMBER 19, 2011
One day after shutting out an opponent for the first time in 20 regular season games, the Muskegon Lumberjacks will seek to win four games in a row for the first time in the USHL Saturday night as they host the first-place Green Bay Gamblers. The Eastern Conference foes will meet eight times this season; Travis Belohrad’s hat trick led the Jacks to an 8-4 triumph Jan. 16 at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon’s lone win in the four-game season series last year.
With their 2-0 win last night over Tri-City, the Lumberjacks (7-6-0, 14 points / 6th in East) can boast a winning record for the first time this season. John Keeney denied 37 Storm shots for his third career USHL shutout, and Belohrad supplied all the offense the Jacks would need with a second-period goal, his third in his last five games and fifth overall. Defenseman Mark Yanis added an empty netter in the final 10 seconds off an assist from Keeney, improving Muskegon to 6-1-0 in its last seven.
Finishing a weekend in Michigan, the Gamblers (11-3-0, 22 points / 1st in East) are just as hot as the Lumberjacks, as they’ve also won six of seven to push to the top of the USHL’s overall standings. Friday night Green Bay ran its road record to an impressive 8-1-0 with a 4-2 defeat of the U.S. National Team in Ann Arbor. Rookie forwards Sheldon Dries (G, A) and Kyle Novak (2 A) teamed up with returning Gambler Alex Broadhurst (2 G) to squeeze out a win over the Under-18 squad at the Ice Cube.
- Penalty killing continues to be a story in Muskegon, as the Lumberjacks have now killed 35 of the last 36 power play chances against them, improving from 16th in the league to seventh (83.6 percent success rate). Not coincidentally, the Jacks have jumped from 1-5-0 to 7-6-0 during that stretch of special teams excellence.
- After his goal Friday night, Belohrad is quietly climbing the Jacks’ scoring list. His five goals rank him second behind Dakota Klecha and his eight total points are three behind leading scorer John Padulo’s 11. Belohrad, who started his junior career with the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League in 2009, is on pace to match his 18 goals and 34 points last year in Muskegon.
- For the second straight time in a Lumberjacks game, both teams reached 30 shots. When firing at least that many at the opposing net, Muskegon is 6-1-0. When surrendering 30 or more, the Jacks are 4-4-0. Tri-City’s 37 shots Friday night were the most Muskegon allowed since Oct. 14, when Fargo launched 39.
- The Gamblers, traditionally one of the USHL’s top franchises, have put together quite the résumé through 14 games. On top of having the circuit’s best overall record, they have scored the most goals (53), allowed the second-fewest (33), giving them a league-best differential of plus-20.
- The duo of Novak (15 points) and Nolan LaPorte (14) have combined for 29 points. Four Gamblers defenseman are in the loop’s top 15 blueline scorers, led by Markus Lauridsen’s 10 points. Goalie Ryan McKay, who helped Green Bay to the Anderson and Clark Cup titles in 2010, has the USHL’s best goals-against average (1.67) and save percentage (.934).
- Green Bay took six of a possible eight standings points in last season’s series vs. Muskegon, averaging five goals per contest. Lauridsen was the leading scorer among active USHLers with three points and a plus-7 rating. Forward Sam Herr deposited two goals against the Jacks.