MUSKEGON, MI- The Muskegon Lumberjacks trailed after one period, but erased a 2-1 deficit with three unanswered goals, besting the Des Moines Buccaneers 5-3 in front of 2,291 on Friday.
The Jacks got two goals from Casey Gilling, who now has three goals in his last two games, and newly-acquired Austin Alger registered two assists in his Lumberjacks debut.
Gilling started the scoring at the 5:53 mark of the first period, scoring into a wide-open net after Keeghan Howdeshell found him on the back door.
Des Moines would answer with goals just 10 seconds apart late in the first period. First, Dorr, MI, native Cam Orchard roofed a breakaway over Adam Brizgala’s blocker, and then Chris Berger banked one in off of Brizgala’s glove to make it 2-1 after the first.
In the second, the Jacks took the momentum, scoring on the period’s opening shift. Alger, from behind the net, slipped a pass to Collin Adams in the slot, and Adams beat Nick MacNab with a wrister to tie the game 38 seconds into the second.
Adams ended a season-long five-game goal scoring drought with his 20th of the season.
Muskegon’s lone power play of the game came early in the second period, and Gilling would capitalize on it, scoring on a one-timer from the left circle at the 3:41 mark. Gilling tallied his ninth and tenth goals of the year in the game.
The Lumberjacks added to the lead midway through the third when Howdeshell floated a nifty pass to a streaking Mikael Hakkarainen, who deked to the backhand and fooled MacNab to make it 4-2. Hakkarainen has his fourth of the season, and has scored in back-to-back games.
The Bucs would add a goal with 6:36 to play when Reed Lebster rifled a wrist shot past Brizgala, but Andrei Svechnikov had the answer for Muskegon with 2:01 left in the game to put it out of reach.
Alger got the lone assist on Svechnikov’s goal, grabbing a puck that had bounced off a stantion and saucering a pass to a wide-open Svechnikov in front. Svechnikov drew the puck wide to his forehand and easily flipped it past a sprawling MacNab to put the Jacks up 5-3.
Brizgala saved 24 of 27 shots to improve to 12-5-3 on the season, while MacNab stopped 22 of 27, and drops to 8-5-2.
The Muskegon crowd of nearly 2,300 was the Jacks’ best Friday night crowd of the season. Next Friday the 17th is dollar beer night (12oz beers $1 until the end of the first period).
The two teams rematch tomorrow, concluding the two-game season series. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15pm at LC Walker Arena.
Muskegon goals: Gilling (9,10), Adams (20), Hakkarainen (4), Svechnikov (20)
Muskegon assists: Howdeshell (7,8), Alger (13,14), Marc Del Gaizo (12,13), Hakkarainen (9)