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Weekend Preview: Lumberjacks Host Youngstown, Team USA to Wrap Up Homestand

By Scott Bradford, 02/18/21, 12:30PM EST

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MUSKEGON, MI- The Muskegon Lumberjacks’ seven-game homestand concludes this weekend as the Jacks host the Youngstown Phantoms and Team USA U17. The Lumberjacks are currently mired in a five-game losing streak, but have an opportunity to right the ship with three games this weekend.

The Lumberjacks came into this seven-game homestand as one of the top home teams in the USHL, but four-straight home losses have left the Jacks scratching their heads. Despite peppering Green Bay goaltending with more than 120 shots last weekend, Muskegon was able to score just six goals in the three-game series.

The USHL’s third highest scoring offense will hope to rebound this weekend as Muskegon hosts Youngstown on Thursday and Friday, with the homestand concluding Saturday against Team USA U17.

Despite the downtick in scoring, Muskegon still has plenty of firepower. Lumberjacks Danil Gushchin, Cameron Berg, Tanner Kelly, Cristophe Tellier, Jacob Guevin, and Dylan Wendt all boast 23 or more points on the season, and the Jacks are one of only two teams to have three or more 25+ point scorers.

Youngstown comes into the series with just 15 points on the year- the fewest in the USHL. Youngstown has struggled to a 1-7-1 record on the road, with their lone win coming back in November against Dubuque. 

Despite Youngstown’s record this season, one of their six wins came against Muskegon in this heated rivalry, and Youngstown’s hard-checking style is rarely fun to play against. The Phantoms have a major threat up front in Georgii Merkulov, who leads Youngstown with 22 points in 20 games.

After two against the Phantoms, Team USA U17 invades Mercy Health Arena, and the U17s have enjoyed success against the Lumberjacks this season. The U17s have beaten Muskegon three times in five games, including their come-from-behind 6-4 win just two weeks ago.

Team USA forward Rutger McGroarty has been dynamite against Muskegon this season, scoring five goals in five matchups. McGroarty’s two tallies in the last meeting spearheaded the Team USA comeback and helped the U17s erase a 4-2 deficit going into the third.

Tanner Kelly registered three points in Muskegon’s last meeting against the U17s, and TK has been on a roll lately despite Muskegon’s slight decline in scoring. Kelly has at least a point in six of his last seven, and 14 of his last 18. 

Muskegon’s games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are all scheduled for 7:00pm and limited tickets are available.