at cedar rapids roughriders
the stable, cedar rapids, iowa
Friday, April 13, 2012
The Muskegon Lumberjacks begin the final weekend of the season right where they started the 2011-12 campaign, in eastern Iowa to battle the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. The two Eastern Conference rivals met in last year’s Clark Cup Playoffs and the animosity has carried over into this year’s season series, exemplified by a hard-fought 3-0 ‘Riders win Feb. 3 in Muskegon that produced a post-game scrum and a combined 193 penalty minutes.
Last time out
Despite multiple posts hit in the third period, the Lumberjacks (17-34-7, 41 points / 8th in East) couldn’t get the equalizer last Saturday at L.C. Walker Arena, as they fell 3-2 to defending league champion Dubuque. Tyler Heinonen paced the Jacks in their final home game of the season, picking up a goal and an assist for the second straight game, giving the Michigan Tech recruit 30 points (18 goals) in his first USHL season, fourth-most on the team.
The RoughRiders (26-20-12, 74 points / 5th in East) won their third in a row last Friday, topping Des Moines 4-2 in their only action of the previous weekend. Cedar Rapids netted the first four goals of the game en route to extending its unbeaten streak to six (4-0-2). Ryan McGrath (UMass-Lowell) was the only multipoint scorer of the night; the league sophomore had a goal and a helper to push his point total to 34 (17g, 17a), good for third place on the RoughRiders.
- Leading scorer Ryan Lomberg is one point away from 40 in his first go-around in the USHL, and he rides a five-game scoring streak into the Stable tonight. The University of Maine-committed center returned in style from a three-game suspension last weekend, picking up four points (1g, 3a) in two games. If he scores tonight, Lomberg will set a new team season-high for consecutive games with a point.
- Forward Matt DeBlouw was ranked No. 51 overall among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s postseason rankings, released Monday. The future Michigan State Spartan has 22 assists to lead Muskegon and is second behind Lomberg with 32 points. DeBlouw is the ninth-highest rated USHL prospect for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh; the 6-foot-1 center is projected to be a mid-round selection.
- Improvement is in the offing on the road, as the Lumberjacks will try to snap a six-game winless streak as the visitor. Since a 3-1 win at Sioux City March 3, Muskegon has been outscored 30-11 while going 0-5-1 away from West Michigan. The Jacks can look to Nov. 11-12 for inspiration, when they swept a two-game road weekend against eventual playoff teams Youngstown and Indiana.
‘Riders on the storm
- Second-year RoughRider Nick Saracino (Providence) leads the playoff-bound Cedar Rapids club with 46 points (12g, 34a), 16 of which have come on the power play. Ferris State recruit and Michigan-native Gerald Mayhew has a team-best 20 goals, eight during the man advantage. The ‘Riders’ power play is fifth in the USHL, including a 22.5 percent conversion rate at home.
- Cedar Rapids has locked up a postseason berth for the 12th consecutive year under coach Mark Carlson, the only bench boss the franchise has ever known. The ‘Riders will travel to Youngstown for a best-of-three series next week. CR will battle for the Clark Cup despite a 2-12 record in games that go beyond 60 minutes. The RoughRiders are 0-5 in overtime, one of only three league teams winless in sudden death this year.
- The ‘Riders are 3-0-0 against the Lumberjacks this season, starting with a 5-2 win at the Stable in Muskegon’s opening game Oct. 7. Third-year USHL goalie and future Michigan State Spartan Jake Hildebrand has started and finished all three games in the season series, allowing just three goals on 84 shots. 5-foot-6 forward Austin Ortega has also stood tall against the Jacks, putting up four points (2g, 2a).
UPCOMING GAMES (All times eastern)
- TONIGHT @ CEDAR RAPIDS at 8:05 p.m.
- TOMORROW @ DUBUQUE at 8:05 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!