Jacks drop tough one in Ann Arbor
December 17, 2011
Jordan Masters and John Padulo scored power-play goals and John Keeney stopped 43 shots, but the National Team picked up a last-minute win
by Matt Gajtka
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Riley Barber’s disputed goal with 38 seconds left decided a tight battle between in-state opponents, as the U.S. National Under-18 Team pulled out a 3-2 win over the Muskegon Lumberjacks at the Ice Cube Saturday night.
The two teams exchanged goals earlier in the third period and appeared headed to overtime, which would’ve been the first extra session for the Jacks in their 20th game. But Brady Skjei’s point shot deflected to the side of the net, where Barber was stationed to deposit the game winner.
The puck appeared to strike a National Team stick on the way to the goal, which the Lumberjacks contended was above the crossbar. The play was ruled legal, however, and the Under-18s hung on in the final seconds for the regulation win.
The final result shouldn’t distract from a superb performance from Jacks goaltender John Keeney, who turned away 43 shots, one short of his season high. The California native made three particularly remarkable saves in the second period, keeping Muskegon within range.
John Padulo had scored Muskegon’s second power play goal of the night 5:39 into the third to put the Jacks on top for the second time. Six minutes later, Nikolas Olsson tied the game at even strength to set up the dramatic final minutes.
The first three goals of the game were scored on the man advantage, appropriately enough since the teams combined for 17 power plays. Muskegon (8-12-0, 16 points) connected on two of six, including Jordan Masters’ first period tally.
After the Jacks killed the first three National Team power plays, they connected on their first attempt with five minutes to go in the opening stanza. Ryan Bullock punched a slapper on net that NTDP goalie Jared Rutledge stopped, but Ryan Lomberg pried the puck loose and backhanded it into the crease for Masters to jam in for his third of the season and first in 10 games.
The National Team had four straight power plays early in the second, and Matthew Lane ripped a wrister from the bottom of the right circle to tie the score with 8 ½ minutes gone in the period. Keeney had previously robbed Lane twice moments earlier on one-timers from a similar spot.
Padulo put Muskegon back ahead with his sixth goal and team-leading 15th point. Alex Smith fired a right-wing shot that skittered through traffic and onto the stick of Padulo on the doorstep.
The Nationals got it back with 8:32 to go during an extra-attacker situation. Kyle Osterberg set up Nikolas Olsson for the tying tally, as Olsson received the pass on his backhand and threw a forehand shot over Keeney from close range.
With their assists, rookie defenseman Bullock and Smith wrote their names on the scoresheet for the second straight game. Travis Belohrad (five games) and Mike McNicholas had their respective scoring streaks halted.
Click here for complete box score.
The Jacks host Indiana at 5:15 p.m. Sunday to complete the pre-holiday portion of their schedule. Doors open at 4:15; 107 MUS will be in the house collecting for Coats For Kids. Anyone who donates will receive a free children’s voucher good for any home game this season.
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.