Friday night's 2-1 loss in Cedar Rapids was about as entertaining as a game with only three goals can be, with energetic rushes going two ways and both goalies making notable stops frequently. The Lumberjacks got the first goal from Joe Cox but saw the RoughRiders generate a pair in the third to claim victory.
Saturday night in Dubuque was also a one-goal decision in favor of the home team, but the nature of the game itself couldn't have been more different from Friday. Perhaps because it was the last game of the regular season for both teams, team defense was largely discarded, as a total of 13 goals were scored on 78 combined shots.
Tyler Heinonen (pictured) took advantage of the open ice as he buried three goals in the game, and five other Lumberjacks had two points apiece, including Mason Jobst and Matt DeBlouw, who both added goals themselves. Heinonen's hat trick was the team's second of the season and the fifth in Muskegon's USHL history; the rookie from Minnesota finished second on the team with 21 goals.
Although Dubuque's two-goal rally earned the defending champs a 7-6 overtime win, Saturday's game was an entertaining tilt and a surreal way to finish the season. Listen to the highlights from 92.5 The Outlaw below, including Ryan Lomberg's assist on Cox's goal Friday that gave him a six-game scoring streak and 40 points in his rookie campaign:
Prior to Friday's game, I chatted with DeBlouw, who was recently listed at No. 51 on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for North American skaters. We talked about his two-year odyssey in Muskegon and what he will take from it heading into Michigan State this fall:
Saturday evening, fellow second-year Lumberjack Mark Yanis joined me for a quick interview. Among the topics of conversation were how he's grown since the fall of 2010 and his mentality when playing out of position at forward, as he did often down the stretch:
Lastly today, Jacks forward Adam Chlapik has suited up in all three games the Czech Republic has played in the IIHF U18 World Championship, which is being contested on Czech soil. The soon-to-be 18-year-old picked up an assist in his country's win over Denmark last Friday, but losses to the United States and Canada have followed.
The Czechs must finish third or higher in the five-team Group A to advance to the medal round. They have to beat Finland Tuesday to have a chance at that. Stay connected to the fortunes of Chlapik, as well as the USA going for four straight gold medals in this event, at IIHF.com!