Chicago skates away from Jacks
November 26, 2011
The home team continued to rule the season series, as the Steel rushed out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 win. Belohrad netted the only goal for Muskegon.
by Matt Gajtka
BENSENVILLE, Ill. – The home team continued to rule in the season series between Muskegon and Chicago, as the Steel claimed a 4-1 win over the Lumberjacks Saturday night at the Edge Ice Arena.
Chicago scored the first three goals of the game before Travis Belohrad connected for the Jacks (7-9-0, 14 points) to complete a gorgeous passing play and cut the lead to two goals at the second intermission.
But the Steel (7-11-0, 14 points) locked down defensively as the Lumberjacks tried to muster a comeback in the final period. After Chicago killed a late Muskegon power play, Andrew Miller fired the puck into an empty net with 1:32 left to clinch the Steel’s second straight win.
The Jacks have dropped three in a row and are now tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference with the Steel, although Chicago has played two more games. Muskegon has fallen behind 3-0 in each of their consecutive losses; the Jacks will seek a strong start Friday when they host Youngstown at L.C. Walker Arena.
Chicago goalie Mathias Dahlstrom stopped 27 shots to earn his third win of the season against Muskegon. The home team has won the first four games of the season series, with the Jacks’ lone victory vs. the Steel coming in the Port City Oct. 29.
The visiting Jacks were looking to snap that trend and also forget back-to-back losses to league-leading Green Bay, but Zach Saar found Michael Fallon at the top of the crease for a 1-0 Steel advantage 11:47 into the contest.
Chicago captain Joel Benson knocked an airborne puck to Theo DiPauli 41 seconds later, and the third-year member of the Steel wristed a straight-on shot through a screen and under Jacks goalie Paul Berrafato for a two-goal bulge.
Ryan Lomberg thought he cut the lead to one during a power play late in the first, but his snap shot beat Dahlstrom just after the buzzer had sounded to end the period. That bad break loomed when Michael Vilardo steered in Andrew Miller’s centering pass for his first USHL goal at 12:06 of the second, pushing Chicago’s lead to 3-0.
Just like they did Friday night in Green Bay, the Jacks had a quick answer. Joseph Cox gloved down Jordan Masters’ headman pass in the neutral zone, cruised to the left circle and tucked a backhand pass to the right post for Belohrad, who slammed it in for his sixth of the season. The goal came 1:22 after Vilardo’s tally.
Muskegon could never get a second goal, though, as Chicago played conservatively in the third to preserve its lead. Lomberg had perhaps the best opportunity but he was stopped by Dahlstrom, and the Steel held on for their second win in two nights.
Despite a second-period fight between Max Shuart and Chicago’s Jimmy DeVito, penalties were scarce. Muskegon took only three penalties, tying a season low, and was shorthanded just twice. The Jacks’ three power plays were their second-fewest through 16 games.
Click here for complete box score.
Muskegon returns home Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday Dec. 3 for a two-game set against Youngstown. Friday is Dollar Beer/Hot Dog Night presented by John Morrell and Saturday is Star Wars Night! The Cans From Fans food drive continues all weekend, as well. Anyone who brings three non-perishable items will receive a free ticket to the Dec. 18 game vs. Indiana.
Call the L.C. Walker Arena box office at 231.724.JACK(5225) for Lumberjacks tickets and information, or visit startickets.com or go to your local Meijer.
The Muskegon Lumberjacks are proud members of the United States Hockey League, the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league and the leading producer of NCAA players and National Hockey League draft picks in the United States. The Lumberjacks’ organization prides itself on developing not just premier hockey talent, but also exceptional young men outside the arena of sports. For more information, visit muskegonlumberjacks.com.