MUSKEGON, MI- In this pandemic-shortened season, scheduling for many USHL teams has been a difficult task to say the least. The Muskegon Lumberjacks have already faced a four-game in five-day stretch, and will be faced with five more three-in-three weekends.
But this weekend, the Jacks won’t have to face such a tough physical challenge, as Muskegon will play just one game this Friday night against Team USA U17. If the current schedule remains intact, this will be the final time this season that Muskegon will play just a single game in a weekend.
Muskegon just wrapped up a three-in-three weekend, beating first-place Chicago in two of those three games. Now within just two points of first, the Jacks could find themselves atop the Eastern Conference after this weekend’s games.
The Jacks would need help from Green Bay, who takes on Chicago in a series, but more importantly, the Jacks will need to beat Team USA on Friday night at Mercy Health Arena.
The U17s came to town just two weeks ago, coming away with a shootout win over Muskegon in one of the two games in that series. Muskegon earned three of a possible four, but felt like they should have won on both nights. Forward Cameron Berg hit the post five times in the game- once in overtime, and again in the shootout.
In four games so far this season, Muskegon and the U17s have split the series right down the middle, two wins apiece. According to Head Coach Mike Hamilton, the games that Muskegon has won in this series is because of the team’s commitment to defense and “keeping the play in front of them.” In the matchups the U17s have won, odd-man rushes derailed the Jacks’ chances. Give Team USA any time and space, and inevitably, they’ll make you pay.
The game kicks off a seven-game homestand for Muskegon, and the Jacks will play 14 of their next 18 at Mercy Health Arena. This is great news for the Jacks, who have the third-best home record in the USHL this season at 7-2-1. Muskegon has notched at least a point in each of their last six home games, five of which have been wins
.The Lumberjacks recently made a splash, adding Detroit Red Wings draft pick Kyle Aucoin to their roster. The defensive-minded blueliner should help Muskegon in their quest to keep the speedy U17s in front of them on Friday night.
Offensively, Danil Gushchin just broke the Lumberjacks’ franchise record for career points on Sunday, tallying his 120th. Gushchin also moved into second-place on the Jacks’ all-time goal scoring list, passing Anthony Del Gaizo. Gushchin is within nine goals of tying Muskegon’s all-time goal scoring leader, Matt Iacopelli, who scored 64 times in his career.
Aucoin, Gushchin, and the rest of the Lumberjacks take on the U17s Friday night at 7:00pm. Limited tickets are available for the home game, and the game will also be broadcast on the Lumberjacks Broadcast Network.