MUSKEGON, MI- Things certainly haven’t been easy for the Muskegon Lumberjacks so far this season. They’ve taken on first-place Chicago three times in their first 13 games, and now face a three-game week for the third time this month.
Luckily for the Lumberjacks, they’ve had the last week off, with some having the opportunity to head home and see their families before returning to Muskegon for this week’s home series with the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Following the Tuesday-Wednesday home pair against Dubuque, Muskegon will head to Plymouth, MI, to take on Team USA on Saturday.
The home series with the Saints will be the first time Dubuque has traveled to Muskegon, despite the fact that these teams have faced each other four times already this season. Muskegon, now third in the East with a 7-4-1 record, has beaten Dubuque in all four meetings thus far.
The Saints are just 2-10-0 to start 2019-2020, but are coming off a road win against Team USA U18, a squad that has beaten Muskegon in both the regular season and preseason this year.
Special teams figure to play a factor in this weekday series: The Tuesday and Wednesday games will see two strong power plays with opportunities against two struggling penalty kills. Dubuque sits at 21% on the PP while Muskegon coverts 26% of their power plays. The Saints’ PK is sitting at only 67.6%, but the Lumberjacks’ 64.9% is at the bottom of the USHL. The team that stays out of the box could be the one emerging victorious in this series.
Muskegon will continue to lean on dynamic forwards Cam Berg and Danil Gushchin, who lead the team and are fourth in the league with 18 points each. Berg’s 11 goals are tied for the league lead, and with star forward John Farinacci representing the United States at the World Junior Championship, Berg and Gushchin continue to play big roles.
On Saturday, Muskegon takes on Team USA U17, a team that beat the Jacks 10-6 back on November 22. Although the 17s had some help from the U18 team in that game (eight U18 players suited up for the 17s due to COVID), this 2004-born group is a stellar one that can fill the net with pucks. Muskegon will have to be stout defensively in order to take down Team USA on the road.