MUSKEGON, MI- The Muskegon Lumberjacks scored three unanswered goals in the third to draw within a single goal, but ultimately fell to Team USA U18 in their preseason opener, 5-3.
Team USA raced out to an early lead just 1:10 into the game when Sasha Pastujov capitalized on a turnover, beating Jacks goalie Jonathan Williams on a 2-on-0.
Team USA would add goals from Ty Murchison and Jack Devine in the first to open up a 3-0 lead at the break.
In the second, Team USA’s Jeremy Wilmer extended their lead to 4-0 with a forehand-backhand deke in tight, beating netminder Jan Skorpik. Williams started the game and stopped 23 of 26 shots before Skorpik entered the game midway through the second period in a premeditated goalie change. Skorpik made 17 saves on 18 Team USA shots.
Trailing 4-0 entering the third, Muskegon began to rally, getting a power-play goal from Alex Konovalov with 13:50 still to play in the game. Konovalov ripped a one-time slap shot past USA goaltender Gibson Homer after defenseman Davis Pennington teed Konovalov up with a nice feed to the left circle.
Just 1:23 later, defenseman Hank Kempf wired a long wrist shot past Homer to make the score 4-2 with more than 12 minutes still to play.
Muskegon got a penalty kill in the late stages of the third to keep the deficit at two, and immediately pulled Skorpik afterward. With 1:48 to play and the extra attacker on the ice, captain Dylan Wendt lasered a shot over the glove of Homer to make the score 4-3.
The Jacks' comeback was cut short, however, when Jack Hughes potted the empty-net goal with 26 seconds left, making the final score 5-3.
Muskegon hits the road tomorrow to rematch Team USA at their place. Puck drop is slated for 4:05pm and the game can be heard on the Lumberjacks Broadcast Network. The team’s free Mixlr can be found at http://mixlr.com/muskegon-lumberjacks/ (AUDIO) and video may be streamed on available devices through HockeyTV at www.hockeytv.com (VIDEO).
Muskegon goals: Konovalov (1), Kempf (1), Wendt (1)
Muskegon assists: Tyler Dunbar (1), Pennington (1), Tyler Procious (1), Cam Berg (1)