VS. INDIANA ICE
L.C. WALKER ARENA, MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2012
The Muskegon Lumberjacks begin arguably their most challenging weekend of the season tonight against the Indiana Ice, as they play three games in less than 72 hours against the top two teams in the United States Hockey League. Back-to-back home games with Indiana begin the grueling stretch before the Jacks head to Green Bay Sunday afternoon.
Muskegon rallied from 4-2 down entering the third period to force overtime Feb. 11 at Indiana before the Ice captured a 6-5 decision in sudden death. The Jacks have gone 2-1-2 against Indiana this season; the only team they’ve earned more points against is Youngstown.
The Lumberjacks (12-23-5, 29 points / 8th in East) enter the final third of the season after finishing a stretch of five straight road games. Muskegon went 1-3-1 on the extended “trip,” with a Feb. 12 shootout win in Youngstown their only victory. The National Under-17 Team came back from 4-3 down to beat the Jacks 6-4 Monday afternoon in Ann Arbor. Future Michigan State Spartan Joe Cox was Muskegon’s player of the game, as he assisted on a goal in the first period and deflected Alex Smith’s shot to put the Jacks on top midway through the third.
The Ice (26-11-5, 57 points / T-2nd in East) salvaged a split of their road weekend with a 6-3 win in Omaha last Saturday night. Newly-acquired winger Kirill Lebedev netted his first USHL hat trick as Indiana built a 5-1 second period advantage en route to victory against the Western Conference’s top team. A 6-foot-1 20-year-old from Russia, Lebedev has seven goals in his first eight league matches. San Jose Sharks draft pick Sean Kuraly also posted three points (1g, 2a) Saturday and goalie Jon Gillies (Northeastern) earned his league-best 23rd win.
- Rookie winger Tyler Heinonen stretched his point streak out to five games with an assist Friday night in Dubuque, tying the longest by a Lumberjack this season. The future Michigan Tech Huskie was held off the scoresheet Saturday in Chicago but picked up a goal Monday against the National Team, giving him 11 on the year and eight in his last 12 matches.
- A pair of Muskegon defensemen carry two-game point streaks into this weekend’s action. Ryan Bullock (Dartmouth) has turned on the red light his last two times out; both goals were set up by primary assists from Travis Walsh (Michigan State). Bullock is tied for second on the Jacks with 23 points (6g, 17a) in his first USHL season, while Walsh (13 points) is only four points shy of matching his output last year.
- Lumberjacks leading scorer Ryan Lomberg (Maine) has done a good amount of damage against Indiana this season, picking up seven points (2g, 5a) in four games. Heinonen has a team-best four goals against Indiana, including his only two-goal game of the season. Goaltender John Keeney has a .917 save percentage in three starts (1-0-2) vs. the Ice.
- Indiana began a run of seven consecutive road games out west last weekend, falling at Des Moines before taking down Omaha. The Ice have garnered 27 of their 57 total points on the road, a mark bested only by first-place Green Bay’s 36. Against Muskegon, Indiana is technically 1-0-1 as the visitor, with their 5-3 win Jan. 28 at L.C. Walker Arena counted as a “home” game since it had to be moved from Indianapolis due to scheduling conflicts.
- Although Indiana boasts four forwards among the USHL’s top 15 scorers, defenseman Ryan Obuchowski (Yale) is not to be ignored for his offensive ability. Currently on a four-game point streak, the Michigan native has the most assists (24) among league rearguards and the second-most points (29). Kuraly – third in the USHL with 26 goals - is also streaking, with points in three straight.
- Rookie Robbie Baillargeon has often found the range against the Lumberjacks; in five matchups with Muskegon the Massachusetts-born Boston University recruit has nine points (4g, 5a). Kuraly (Miami) has five goals vs. Muskegon, and Ice leading scorer Daniil Tarasov picked up a goal and an assist Feb. 11 to give him four points in the season series.
UPCOMING GAMES (All times eastern)
- TONIGHT vs. INDIANA at 7:15 p.m. – Dollar Beer/Dollar Hot Dog Night presented by John Morrell. Offer stands from 6-8 p.m.
- TOMORROW vs. INDIANA at 7:15 p.m. – Give Blood, Play Hockey Night / The Jacks and the Red Cross will be hosting a blood drive at L.C. Walker Arena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 724-JACK to sign up and save lives!
- Sunday, February 26 @ GREEN BAY at 4:05 p.m.
- Friday, March 2 @ DES MOINES at 8:05 p.m.
- Saturday, March 3 @ SIOUX CITY at 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 Tuesday nights 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 and co-host Antonio Bartoli talk hockey with Lumberjacks coaches, players and other featured guests on 98.3 FM WLCS!
THE SOCIAL NETWORKS
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