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Pitlick, Special Teams Propel Muskegon Past Dubuque

By Frank Zawrazky, 12/29/20, 10:00PM EST

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Muskegon MI– Three power play goals scored on a major penalty in the first period helped  push Muskegon to a 7-1 victory over Dubuque Tuesday Night. Rhett Pitlick netted a hat trick,  extending Muskegon’s lead in the later two periods. 

The first period started out scary with Ben Strinden leaving the game after suffering a check to  the head from Dubuque forward Reggie Millette, resulting in a major penalty. 

The ensuing major power play for Muskegon yielded three goals in a span of 1:36, with Quinn Hutson scoring his first career USHL goal to open the scoring. Hutson would be heard from again, slamming home a one-timer from Tanner Kelly to end the scoring for the first period. 

Danil Gushchin and Jack Williams also scored on the power play. For Gushchin, it was his 102nd career point, pushing him past Matt Iacopelli and into fourth on the Jacks’ all-time point list. 

Muskegon would pick up right where they left off in the second period as Rhett Pitlick scored in the first minute of  the frame. 

Muskegon’s much-improved penalty kill showed their strength, killing off a double minor high sticking penalty early in the stanza. 

With 11:17 to play in the second, Pitlick struck again, beating Hobie Hedquist through the wickets to extend the Muskegon lead to 6-0.

The first ten minutes of the the third period were controlled by Dubuque, who outshot Muskegon early in the period and ended Jan Skorpik’s shutout bid. Dubuque forward Connor Kurth fired a power-play wrister past the Jacks netminder Skorpik, putting Dubuque on the board with 17:19 to play in the third.

Muskegon’s penalty kill finished the night four of five.

However, Pitlick would complete the hat trick with his third goal of the night, doubling his previous total on the year in one game. Skorpik was a brick wall for Muskegon, stopping 23 of 24 shots. 

The 7-1 final is the most lopsided game in the history of this rivalry that dates back to 2010.

Muskegon rematches Dubuque again tomorrow at 7pm EST and on January 2 against the U17s of Team USA.  

Muskegon goals: Hutson (1,2) Gushchin (9), Williams (4), Pitlick (4,5,6) 

Muskegon assists: Pitlick (4), Guevin (8,9), Pennington (9), Berg (8), Tellier (7), Kelly (5),  Marek (2)