DES MOINES, IA- The Muskegon Lumberjacks jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but the Des Moines Buccaneers stormed back with four consecutive goals to earn a come-from-behind 5-3 win at Buccaneer Arena Saturday.
Vincent de Mey got the Jacks on the board just 1:18 into the game, firing a shot past starting goalie Jake Kucharski on Muskegon’s first shot on net.
CJ Walker answered for Des Moines, tying the game with 6:37 to play in the first. The score would remain 1-1 after the first 20 minutes.
In the second, Muskegon scored goal 29 seconds apart to increase the lead to 3-1. First, Jachym Kondelik beat Kucharski, his 5th goal since returning from an injury ten games ago. de Mey potted his second of the night immediately thereafter on a breakaway, and Kucharski’s night was done less than halfway through the game.
Bucs head coach Dave Allison’s goalie switched worked, and with Roman Durny between the pipes the Buccaneers’ top line exploded, scoring the final four goals of the game.
Nicolas Werbik netted a pair of goals, including the game-winner early in the third. Werbik added an assist as well, giving him a team-best 33 points on the year. Linemates Julian Napravnik and Brian Halonen each scored goals as well, and Halonen added two helpers while Napravnik chipped in one.
Those three combined for four goals and four assists, and Durny stopped all 15 shots he faced to lift the Bucs to victory
Keegan Karki took the loss, making 30 saves on 35 Des Moines shots and dropping to 16-11-0.
Anthony Del Gaizo contributed an assist in the game, his USHL-leading 50th point of the season. He is the 11th Lumberjack to record 50 points for Muskegon in a single season. Rem Pitlick has the Jacks’ single-season record for points with 89.
Muskegon will return home for a four-game homestand that begins Friday against the Sioux City Musketeers. The Lumberjacks will get Mikael Hakkarainen and Wyatt Bongiovanni back in the lineup, a pair of two-way dynamos that will provide a massive boost.
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Muskegon goals: de Mey (11,12), Kondelik (8)
Muskegon assists: Monte Graham (11), Emilio Pettersen (23), A. Del Gaizo (20), Marc Del Gaizo (19), Matej Pekar (29)
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA- Jachym Kondelik and Jagger Joshua each netted a pair of goals, leading the Muskegon Lumberjacks past the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 5-2 on Friday at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.’
Joshua’s first goal, which came in the third period, was his first-career USHL goal, and went down as the game-winner. Joshua added his second goal just six minutes later to make it 4-1, a dagger to the RoughRiders with just 4:10 remaining.
Kondelik’s two tallies each came in the second period. After a scoreless first, Kondelik found the net even strength and on the power play, his 6th and 7th goals of the year.
Muskegon would hold that 2-0 lead until the end of the second, but Cedar Rapids cut into it early in the third when Jason Polin squaked one through Keegan Karki to make it 2-1. Karki made 21 saves and improved to 16-10-0 on the season.
The Jacks have now won three straight, with Karki in net for all three games. The Sartell, MN native has only allowed four goals in that span.
Bobby Kaiser had a big night for Muskegon as well, contributing two assists and potting an empty-net goal in the final minute of regulation. It was Kaiser’s first-career three-point game, and brings his season total to 11 points. Kaiser has now scored in back-to-back games.
Alex Yakovenko also registered a multi-point game, notching two assists.
USHL goal and point leader Anthony Del Gaizo recorded an assist tonight, pushing his total to 49 points on the season. He leads the USHL scoring races by seven goals and three points.
Despite having only 11 healthy forwards, the Jacks were able to score five times, beating Cedar Rapids in the first of three regular-season meetings. The next games will be at LC Walker Arena on March 16 and 17.
The Jacks are back on the ice tomorrow against the Des Moines Buccaneers in Des Moines. Puck drop is slated for 8:05pm and will be aired live on 92.5 Nash Icon and HockeyTV.com.
Muskegon goals: Kondelik (6,7), Joshua (1,2), Kaiser (6)
Muskegon assists: Colby Bukes (16), Emilio Pettersen (22), A. Del Gaizo (19), Yakovenko (2,3), Nolan Sullivan (2), Kaiser (4,5)
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA- Pun intended, the Muskegon Lumberjacks aren’t at full strength. They aren’t shorthanded in the literal, on-ice, penalty-kill sense, but the Jacks are down a man (or four) on this Iowa roadtrip.
When Muskegon faces Cedar Rapids and Des Moines this weekend, they’ll have to do it without the services of Michael Graham (IR), Wyatt Bongiovanni (IR), Mikael Hakkarainen (INJ) and Matej Pekar (international play).
Graham has missed almost the entire season, but the other three have combined for 86 points this season in just 85 games. It’s fair to say that Muskegon will have to win games in gritty fashion this weekend as they await the return of this stellar trio.
“I told the team that we’re going to have to come together and play great team defense,” said head coach John LaFontaine. “I liked the effort in Wednesday’s win over Central Illinois. Playing responsible defensively and getting some big saves is what we’re going to have to do.”
And that’s what they did in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Flying Aces. They limited Central Illinois to 28 shots on net while firing 47 of their own, and goaltender Keegan Karki allowed just one goal for the second straight game.
Muskegon has now won two straight, and while having only 11 healthy forwards isn’t ideal, the Lumberjacks will see two opponents that are out of the playoff picture.
Cedar Rapids is the opponent Friday, and the RoughRiders are the lone Eastern Conference foe that Muskegon hasn’t yet faced. Entering the weekend in eighth place in the East at 15-17-7, the Riders have won just three of their last ten games. However, the door is still open for Cedar Rapids because only three teams in the East (USA, Youngstown, Muskegon) have won more than five of their last ten. As a result, the RoughRiders are only three points out of a playoff spot.
Muskegon will hope to take advantage with the man advantage against Cedar Rapids- the RoughRiders have the third-worst penalty kill in the USHL, and Muskegon’s power play has converted on 19.9% of their opportunities this season, good for 6th in the league.
Friday’s game begins at 8:05pm and will be aired live on 92.5 Nash Icon and HockeyTV.com.
On Saturday, the Jacks conclude a two-game series with Des Moines that began with a win all the way back on October 7th. Muskegon had to come from behind in that 3-2 win, getting a late game-winner from Jachym Kondelik.
Look out for Kondelik again in this one, the towering Czech center notched another assist on Wednesday, and has scored two goals and contributed four assists in eight games since returning from injury.
Playing alongside Emilio Pettersen and Anthony Del Gaizo, Kondelik and the top line was dynamic in Wednesday’s win. The trio generated a slew of chances, and Del Gaizo grabbed an assist during the game as well, giving him a USHL-best 48 points this season.
Muskegon’s top line will be relied upon heavily, but it was Jagger Joshua, Nolan Sullivan and Bobby Kaiser; Muskegon’s third line; that scored the game-winner on Wednesday. Kaiser got the goal by using his strong wrist shot, and Bobby could have more chances to use that shot this weekend.
Like the RoughRiders, the Buccaneers are out of a playoff spot, and sit in 8th place in the West at 15-20-4. The Bucs have lost two in a row, but have played .500 hockey over the last ten games.
Saturday’s tilt with Des Moines begins at 8:05pm, and will air on 92.5 and HockeyTV.