Jacks rally again, but Indiana gets OT win
December 28, 2011
Third period goals from Dakota Klecha and Mark Yanis (pictured) completed the team's biggest comeback of the season. The Ice scored late in overtime to earn the extra point
by Matt Gajtka
MUSKEGON, Mich. – Dakota Klecha and Mark Yanis scored third period goals to force overtime, but Sean Kuraly ended the game in sudden death as the Indiana Ice escaped with a 3-2 win over the Muskegon Lumberjacks Wednesday night.
Ten days after the Lumberjacks (9-12-1, 19 points) used a late rally to snatch a thrilling victory at L.C. Walker Arena, they came back against the same Indiana team in front of a lively Carload Night crowd of 2,761. Prior to Wednesday, Muskegon had been 0-10-0 when trailing after two periods.
After Klecha converted a sweet setup from Alex Smith during a power play early in the final frame, Yanis took a drop pass from Joseph Cox and ripped a wrister between the legs of Indiana goalie Jon Gillies to tie the score with 7:34 remaining in regulation.
On Dec. 18, Muskegon’s Max Shuart beat the Ice with a stunning long-range goal 14 seconds into OT, but on this night Kuraly found a way to sneak his team-leading 16th of the season under John Keeney’s glove with 15 seconds left in the extra session. Keeney was strong yet again, stopping more than 40 shots for the third straight game.
Keeney’s 43 saves were countered by Gillies’ 23, as he earned his league-best 16th win despite heavy pressure from Muskegon throughout the third period. The Ice (15-7-4, 34 points) picked up their first win against the Jacks, who also beat them 5-4 Nov. 12 in Indianapolis. Muskegon leads the eight-game season series 2-0-1 with the next meeting coming up on Jan. 28 at L.C. Walker Arena.
Indiana’s Robbie Baillaregon opened the scoring late in the first period with a snap shot from the left circle that banged in off the crossbar during the Ice’s second power play. The Lumberjacks tightened up on the penalty kill from there, limiting the league’s best power play unit to one conversion on seven attempts.
An even-strength marker from defenseman Alex Barron lifted the Ice to a 2-0 advantage nearly three minutes into the second. His wrister from the right boards found its way through a heavy screen and into the top-right corner of the goal.
The Jacks gradually started to heat up, though, and they connected during their fourth power play of the night. Nick Seeler made a heady play to push the puck along the blue line to defense partner Smith, who closed in and slid a quick feed to Klecha at the left edge of the crease. Gillies had committed to Smith, so Klecha had an open net to shoot at for his team-leading ninth goal.
Past the midway point of the period, a sharp counterattack for Muskegon paid off with the tying goal. Jordan Masters picked off an Indiana centering pass and pushed it ahead for Cox, who found room to skate on the left wing. Trailing the play, sophomore blueliner Yanis took the puck from Cox and buried his third and most important goal of the season.
Keeney robbed Kuraly from the top of the crease in the opening minute of OT, but with a shootout looming, Kuraly’s eighth shot of the night found twine from the right circle.
Click here for complete box score.
The Stanley Cup will be in the house for the Lumberjacks’ next home game, Saturday Jan. 7 against Chicago! It will also be NASCAR Night, with tickets to the Daytona 500 and other valuable racing-related prizes up for grabs. 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.