Jacks' comeback nets point in Ann Arbor
March 7, 2012
Mason Jobst (pictured) earned a pair of assists in the third period as Muskegon rallied to force OT against the National Team. The Jacks fell 4-3 in sudden death to start a three-game week
by Matt Gajtka
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Entering the third period down 3-1, the Muskegon Lumberjacks were on the verge of falling eight points behind the National Team Development Program for the East’s final playoff spot.
Two goals later, the Jacks were back even and hunting an improbable win. But even though the National Under-18 Team would eventually earn a 4-3 overtime victory Wednesday night at the Ice Cube, Muskegon once again showed its resilience.
Persistence has kept the Lumberjacks (15-24-7, 37 points) in the playoff chase, as they have gone 3-1-2 to stay within reach of the National Team (20-20-4, 44 points) with 14 games to go. Muskegon has two head-to-head matchups left with the NTDP over the next two weeks.
In just the second meeting of the season between the Under-18 squad and the Jacks, the Nationals scored three in the second to counter Tyler Heinonen’s first period tally. Max Shuart and Rasmus Bengtsson lit the lamp in the opening half of the third to set up a tense finish.
Mason Jobst had his first two-point game as a Lumberjack, earning a pair of assists in the third. John Keeney made his fourth straight start, stopping 37 of 41 shots in another strong effort from the crease.
Defenseman Jacob Trouba had a pair of helpers for the NTDP, including the primary assist on Quentin Shore’s game winner 2:04 into overtime. Muskegon has had six games decided in sudden death this season but has won only one, Dec. 18 vs. Indiana.
The critical contest began well for the Lumberjacks, as captain Carter Foguth picked up his first point of the season with a solid play. Ryan Lomberg’s shot from between the circles went wide of goalie Jared Rutledge, but Foguth scooped it up and centered for Heinonen from the right boards.
Heinonen deked to his backhand and lifted an accurate shot past Rutledge at 8:36, giving the rookie winger his 14th goal of the season and second in two games.
The National Team struck back with a pair of goals 53 seconds apart early in the second period. Nicolas Kerdiles shoveled the rebound of Trouba’s power play point shot under Keeney at the right post at 3:29, followed by Tyler Motte burying a loose puck at 4:22 to give the home side its first lead.
After Ryan Bullock hit the crossbar during a Muskegon 5-on-3 midway through the period, NTDP blueliner Seth Jones rifled a shot under Keeney with 36 seconds left before the second intermission.
Shuart began the Jacks’ comeback when he stole the puck in the offensive zone, with the puck bouncing to Jobst above the circles. Jobst hit Shuart with a smooth pass at the left circle for a much-needed goal at 2:17 of the third.
With 8:57 gone in the frame, the visitors tied it up. Jobst’s clean faceoff win led to Bengtsson ripping a long wrister through a screen for his third goal in 20 games since arriving in Muskegon on loan from his native Sweden.
Neither team threatened seriously late in the third, giving each side a point in the standings. The NTDP earned the extra one when Trouba paraded down the right wing and found Shore open between the circles for the deciding one-timer.
Click here for complete box score.
The Lumberjacks take the ice at L.C. Walker Arena Friday night at 7:15 p.m. as they host the Chicago Steel for the eighth and final time this season. The Meijer Pregame Show begins at 6:30 on 92.5 The Outlaw with Voice of the Jacks Matt Gajtka on the call.
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.