Lumberjacks blanked in Indiana
March 16, 2012
The two East rivals split their eight-game season series. Muskegon returns home Saturday to face the National Team at 7:15 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day!
by Matt Gajtka
INDIANAPOLIS – Daniil Tarasov had three points and goalie Dalton Izyk made 24 saves as the Indiana Ice stopped the Muskegon Lumberjacks 4-0 Friday night at Pepsi Coliseum.
The two teams split their eight-game season series, with each side posting a 4-2-2 record against the other. Four of the games went to overtime, but Indiana assured that extra time would not be needed Friday night, sending the Lumberjacks (15-28-7, 37 points) to just their fourth shutout loss in 50 games.
With the win the Ice (30-14-6, 66 points) ensured they would stay at least in a second place tie in the Eastern Conference; the top two seeds in each conference earn a first-round bye in the Clark Cup playoffs. There are four weeks left in the USHL regular season.
Mason Jobst, playing in his hometown, had a team-high three shots, as did Tyler Heinonen and defenseman Rasmus Bengtsson. Goalie John Keeney, making his eighth consecutive start to match a career high, turned away 18 shots.
Muskegon outshot Indiana 24-22, but the Ice got goals from Tarasov, Drew Smolcynski, Robert Polesello and Ryan Obuchowski to back up Izyk, who earned his first league shutout in his 14th appearance.
The Lumberjacks will attempt to snap a four-game losing streak Saturday night when they host the National Team at 7:15 p.m. Draft (green) beers are $1 off to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
Tarasov started the scoring at 8:01 of the first period with his 36th goal of the season, second-most on the circuit. The 20-year-old Russian received a centering pass from Jacob Fallon and stashed the puck into an open net from the low slot.
The Ice also got a single goal in the second period, this time from Smolcynski eight minutes in. Polesello spun behind the Muskegon net and backhanded a wraparound try that bounced to Smolcynski, who rattled the puck off the arm of Keeney and in from five feet away.
Keeney denied Sean Kuraly on a breakaway midway through the period to keep it 2-0, but Izyk answered with a sharp save of his own on Heinonen in the slot late in the second.
The lead grew to three 1:21 into the third when Polesello burst into the Muskegon zone, cut to the middle and threw a hard wrister between Keeney’s legs. Tarasov earned an assist on that play, and he also helped set up Obuchowski’s power play tally that finished the scoring.
The Lumberjacks did a great job keeping the league’s best power play unit off the ice for the majority of the game, but Indiana converted on its first attempt when blueliner Obuchowski, the Ice captain, ripped a low wrister from the left point that found the net through a screen with 6:19 left.
Indiana, converting at a 25 percent clip this season, finished the night 1-for-2 on the man advantage, while Muskegon went 0-for-4.
Click here for complete box score.
The Lumberjacks will seek their first win in five games Saturday night at L.C. Walker Arena when they welcome the NTDP to town. The Meijer Pregame Show begins at 6:45 on 92.5 The Outlaw with Voice of the Jacks Matt Gajtka and Muskegon hockey legend Ron Stephenson 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.