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Muskegon Lumberjacks wrap up 2nd USHL season with trip to Iowa
Muskegon Lumberjacks wrap up 2nd USHL season with trip to Iowa

Although the Muskegon Lumberjacks will not qualify for the United States Hockey League’s Clark Cup Playoffs, motivation figures to be high for the team’s final two games of the season.

First of all, the Lumberjacks (17-34-7, 41 points) are determined to stop a five-game losing streak, the team’s longest in its second USHL campaign.

“We want to send a message that we are not what our record shows,” said Lumberjacks center Ryan Lomberg, who leads the team with 22 goals and 38 points. “We had a tough year in the standings but I think we’ve come a long way as a team in the second half.”

Secondly, the two teams Muskegon will face Friday and Saturday, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque, have gone undefeated in eight combined games against the Lumberjacks this season. Add that to the fact that both games will be on the road in hostile environments, and it’s likely to produce a hungry Black and Gold bunch this weekend.

And if the Jacks needed any more mental ammunition, their most recent meetings with both Cedar Rapids and Dubuque ended with multiple penalties doled out at the end of the third period.

“We don’t like those teams too much,” said Lomberg, who is committed to the University of Maine. “We’re looking forward to playing them in their own buildings and finishing the season on a positive note.”

Muskegon squares off with Cedar Rapids (26-20-12, 64 points) at 8:05 p.m. Eastern time Friday night where the 2011-12 season began, at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, better known as the Stable. The RoughRiders are slated to matchup with Youngstown in the first round of the postseason next week.

Saturday night, the Jacks battle Dubuque (35-19-4, 74 points) for the third time in three weeks to close their second go-around in the USHL. The Fighting Saints squeezed out a 3-2 win last Saturday at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon’s final home game of the season.

The puck drops this Saturday at 8:05 from the Mystique Ice Center; Dubuque will take on the National Under-17 Team next week in a best-of-three series to begin its Clark Cup title defense.

The Meijer Pregame Show begins 30 minutes prior to every opening faceoff on the radio home of your Lumberjacks, 92.5 The Outlaw (925fmtheoutlaw.com). Voice of the Jacks Matt Gajtka has the play-by-play.

The Lumberjacks have reduced the price of season ticket plans for the 2012-13 campaign to just $200! That’s an average of only $6.25 for each of next season’s 32 home contests, but the offer only lasts until June 16. Contact the Jacks ticket office at (231) 724-JACK for more information.

UPCOMING GAMES (Home games in bold; all times Eastern)

  • Friday @ CEDAR RAPIDS at 8:05 p.m.
  • Saturday @ DUBUQUE at 8:05 p.m.

LUMBERJACKS FACTS

  • A trio of Lumberjacks forwards led the team’s offensive charge last weekend, with Michigan Tech recruit Tyler Heinonen turning in four points (2g, 2a) against Green Bay and Dubuque, the first time he’s had back-to-back multipoint games. Lomberg also had four points (1g, 3a) in two matches, as he returned from a three-game suspension with gusto. Junior hockey veteran Jon Padulo snapped out of a 14-game goal drought by switching on the red light in both games.
  • 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.
  • Muskegon finished its home schedule last Saturday, posting a 12-16-2 mark in 30 games. But while they lost more than they won at L.C. Walker Arena, the Jacks had a goal differential of minus-15 (84 goals scored, 99 goals allowed) in the Port City, much better compared to their minus-57 on the road (73 for, 130 against). Muskegon was also a crowd-pleasing 2-0 in home shootouts and earned its only overtime win of the year at LCWA Dec. 18 over Indiana.
  • 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.

BEST HOCKEY TALK ON THE LAKESHORE

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. Check out the final episode next Tuesday, April 17!

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!

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