VS. CHICAGO STEEL
L.C. WALKER ARENA, MUSKEGON, MICH.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2012
Following Friday night’s shutout loss to Cedar Rapids, the Muskegon Lumberjacks can be thankful that they can get back on the ice less than 24 hours later. The Jacks’ attention will have to shift from last night’s contentious contest to the visiting Chicago Steel, who enter the night on a season-high four-game winning streak. Chicago has won four of the first five meetings between the two teams, including a 5-1 decision at L.C. Walker Arena Jan. 7; Muskegon’s only win in the season series came at home Oct. 29, also a 5-1 final score.
The Lumberjacks (10-19-4, 24 points / 8th in East) had their run of seven straight games with at least three goals halted Friday as Cedar Rapids and goalie Jake Hildebrand shut down the Muskegon offense. Despite their third shutout loss of the season, the Jacks outshot their third straight opponent, as they beat the RoughRiders 27-20 in that category. Matt DeBlouw (Michigan State)saw his season-high four-game point streak come to an end against the ‘Riders and Hildebrand, who is also a future Spartan.
The Steel (13-23-1, 27 points / 7th in East) had Friday off as they recovered from a morning game in Youngstown Wednesday. Chicago claimed a 3-1 victory over the Phantoms in front of thousands of screaming youngsters and now the Steel prepare to face another loud crowd tonight at L.C. Walker Arena. Chicago’s winning streak has been powered by goalie Alex Sakellaropolous, who has strung together four consecutive wins after starting his USHL career with five losses in a row, including a short stint in net Oct. 29 against the Lumberjacks.
- The Lumberjacks’ special teams have been a mixed bag at home. Although they allowed a power play goal to Cedar Rapids (on eight opportunities), their penalty kill at L.C. Walker Arena remains in the USHL’s top five with an 86.5 percent success rate. On the other hand, their power play has connected only nine times in 19 games in the Port City, putting the home unit last in the league at 10.2 percent.
- Not only have the Lumberjacks outshot their opponent three straight times, they’ve also allowed fewer than 30 shots in three consecutive games for the first time this season. The 20 shots fired by Cedar Rapids Friday was the second-lowest total by a Muskegon foe; the Jacks held visiting Chicago to just 18 shots Oct. 29 in a 5-1 win.
- It’s been a week of change in Muskegon, as defenseman Nick Seeler and forward Rudy Sulmonte were traded to Des Moines (USHL) and Corpus Christi (NAHL), respectively. In addition, stalwart defender Carter Foguth was activated off the injured reserve, although it’s unclear when he will make his return. Muskegon was 7-7-0 when Foguth sustained an upper body injury Nov. 19; the Lumberjacks are 3-12-4 since their captain went on the shelf.
Steel cage match
- After losing 12 of 14 games from Dec. 2 to Jan. 21, the Steel have improbably rattled off four straight wins, doubling their previous best this season. Making the run even more impressive is who Chicago has defeated: Green Bay, Indiana and Youngstown (twice) are the top three teams in the Eastern Conference as of Saturday morning.
- Since arriving from Des Moines in a trade for West Michigan native Zach Saar Jan. 2, Ray Pigozzi (Denver) has played a prominent role in the Steel’s revitalization. A teammate of four Lumberjacks in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, Pigozzi has eight points (1g, 7a) in 10 games after accumulating nine points in 16 games with the Buccaneers.
- Chicago leading scorer Michael Fallon (UMass-Lowell) has 33 points on the season and six (4g, 2a) in five games against Muskegon. Second-year forward Jimmy DeVito probably enjoys taking on the Lumberjacks even more, as eight of his 15 points have come in the season series with Muskegon, in which he boasts a plus-9 rating.
UPCOMING HOME GAMES
TONIGHT vs. CHICAGO at 7:15 p.m. – Your Lumberjacks ticket is good for $1 off entry to the Snowfest Entertainment Tent on Western Ave. after the game!
Friday, February 10 vs. YOUNGSTOWN at 7:15 p.m. – Robin Bouchard Night / Join the Lumberjacks as they retire the No. 32 worn by the greatest goal scorer in minor-league hockey history! It’s also Dollar Beer/Dollar Hot Dog Night presented by John Morrell.
**Saturday, February 11 at 7:15 p.m. – RED WINGS ALUMNI GAME featuring Kris Draper, Mickey Redmond, Darren McCarty, Joey Kocur, Robin Bouchard, Jock Callander and many more hockey greats! Call 724-JACK for tickets and information.
Friday, February 24 vs. INDIANA at 7:15 p.m. – Dollar Beer/Dollar Hot Dog Night presented by John Morrell! Offer lasts from 6-8 p.m.
FOLLOW THE JACKS ALL SEASON
92.5 FM The Outlaw is the exclusive radio home of your Muskegon Lumberjacks! Listen over the air or check out the action streaming online at 925fmtheoutlaw.com as Voice of the Jacks Matt Gajtka has the play-by-play. The Meijer Pregame Show begins 30 minutes prior to every game. The USHL is also partnering with FastHockey.com to provide video coverage of all league games this season!
JackSixty presented by Cinema Carousel is a weekly hour-long talk show devoted to your Muskegon Lumberjacks every Tuesday night from 6-7 p.m. at Hennessy’s Irish Pub & Restaurant. Located at the corner of Jefferson and Clay Streets in the heart of Muskegon, Hennessy’s plays host as Gajtka talks hockey with Lumberjacks coaches, players and other featured guests on 98.3 FM WLCS.
THE SOCIAL NETWORKS
Never go hungry for Jacks news: “Like” the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Facebook and follow “@MuskegonJacks” on Twitter to stay plugged into the Jacks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also, find the Jacks’ exclusive YouTube channel at youtube.com/MuskegonJacks!