Vs. DES MOINES BUCCANEERS
BUCCANEER ARENA, DES MOINES, IOWA
FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 2012
Continuing a run of four road games in a row, the Muskegon Lumberjacks travel to the Western Conference for the first time since mid-October, squaring off with the Des Moines Buccaneers Friday night. Muskegon gained five points in the East standings last weekend with two wins against Indiana and a shootout loss at Green Bay, pulling within eight points of sixth place in the conference, currently held by the National Team Development Program.
The Lumberjacks (14-23-6, 34 points / 7th in East) are in the midst of their strongest spell under Head Coach Jim McKenzie, as they’ve earned at least a point in three games in a row. Muskegon capped a remarkable weekend Sunday in Green Bay, as third-period goals from Ryan Lomberg (Maine) and defenseman Alex Smith knotted the score and set up a shootout for the second-straight game. Although the Lumberjacks lost the tiebreaker 2-1, goalie John Keeney helped them earn the standings point with 42 saves.
The Buccaneers (19-22-4, 42 points / 5th in West) had their season-long four-game winning streak broken Sunday at Waterloo, but they’ve still put together a 7-2-1 run that has pushed them back into a playoff spot. But with 15 games left Des Moines is far from home free, as sixth-place Sioux City is just one point behind entering the weekend, with Tri-City lurking two points behind the Bucs in seventh place. Des Moines has won four home games in a row and has points in five straight at Buccaneer Arena.
- Although the Lumberjacks weren’t able to win their third consecutive game Sunday, their current three-game unbeaten streak matches a season high. Muskegon won three in row Oct. 29-Nov. 4 and Nov. 11-18 and also constructed a 1-0-2 run from Dec. 18-Jan. 5. With at least a point tonight in Des Moines, the Jacks will match their longest point streak since joining the USHL, which they set in November 2010.
- After a two-goal weekend, Lomberg continues to lead the Lumberjacks in both goals (15) and points (27), but it’s gotten crowded at the top of Muskegon’s scoring list. Jon Padulo got back on track with three points last week, giving him 28 for the season, while future MSU Spartan Matt DeBlouw’s three points on Saturday put him two behind linemate Padulo. Defenseman Ryan Bullock (Dartmouth) also has 24 points and is the team’s top set-up man with 17 assists.
- Although he was squeezed out for USHL Goaltender of the Week by Des Moines’ Phoenix Copley, third-year league veteranKeeneywas splendid in a pair of starts. The Californian denied 73 of 76 shots for a .960 save percentage as the Jacks topped Indiana 3-1 Friday and held off powerful Green Bay for 65 minutes in a 3-2 shootout loss Sunday.
- Muskegon is 3-3-0 vs. the opposite conference this season, but Des Moines accounted for one of those losses with a 5-3 decision at L.C. Walker Arena Jan. 13. It was the first of two games coached by Dave Noel-Bernier before McKenzietook control the following week.
- The mid-January meeting between these two teams featured three shorthanded goals in the second period, including two from the Buccaneers. Appropriately, Des Moines leading scorer and Ohio State recruit Anthony Greco (15g, 20a) nailed the first one, followed by top Bucs lamp-lighter Gasper Kopitar (21g, 11a) picking up the second shorty. Kopitar is the younger brother of Los Angeles Kings star center Anze.
- Goalie Jason Kasdorf is a Winnipeg Jets draft pick, but Copley has been coach Regg Simon’s workhorse since arriving via trade from Tri-City last month. The future Michigan Tech Huskie started eight games in a row before Kasdorf got the nod Sunday at Waterloo. Defenseman and former Lumberjack Nick Seeler has also fit in well, scoring eight points in 11 games and earning USHL Defensive Player of the Week for the span of Feb. 20-26.
UPCOMING GAMES (All times eastern)
- Friday, March 2 @ DES MOINES at 8:05 p.m.
- Saturday, March 3 @ SIOUX CITY at 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 7 @ NATIONAL UNDER-18 TEAM at 7 p.m.
- Friday, March 9 vs. CHICAGO at 7:15 p.m. – Dollar Beer/Dollar Hot Dog Night presented by John Morrell! Offer stands from 6-8 p.m.
- Saturday, March 10 vs. LINCOLN at 7:15 p.m. – Beach Night / Featuring a beach body contest and great prizes!
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
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!