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Weekend Preview: Jacks Take Win Streak to Youngstown

By Scott Bradford, 02/25/21, 10:15AM EST

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MUSKEGON, MI- Looking back on the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ last ten games, the 5-4-1 record hardly stands out. And while it may be just another forgettable ten-game stretch in which the Jacks won five and lost five, it becomes a bit more intriguing when looking a bit closer.

Yes, Muskegon has won five of their last ten, but it hasn’t been in any old ordinary way. The Jacks have won two, lost five, and now won three in a row- bringing the term “streaky” to mind. However, Head Coach Mike Hamilton said the streaks weren't indicative of his team's consistent play.

"I think a lot of that had to do with the health of the team and some situational stuff," said Hamilton. "Even when we were losing, we weren't playing poorly. Maybe two games during that losing streak were unacceptable, but I didn't feel any negativity from our staff or players."

In a world of recent bias, what matters most is what you’ve done for me lately, and the Jacks have won three consecutive going into a two-game series in Youngstown. This Phantoms team has fallen to last place in the Eastern Conference, but played like a contender in last weekend’s games against the top dogs in the East, Muskegon and Youngstown.

The Jacks had to grind out come-from-behind wins against the Phantoms on Thursday and Friday of last week, and will now attempt to again defeat a very familiar opponent that is playing some of their best hockey.

There is good news for Muskegon- forward Cam Berg heated up this past weekend, breaking out of a goal-scoring slump with two tallies, including a game-winning, shorthanded goal.

"The most exciting part for Berg was the smile," said Hamilton. "You know when he's having fun he's going to have success, and we saw that this past weekend."

Berg's partner-in-crime Danil Gushchin has missed the last two weeks with an injury, but Hamilton is hoping Gushchin will return to the lineup this weekend.

"Gushchin is skating without contact in practice, and he'll be a game-time decision," said Hamilton. "I am hoping to get him back but we will see."

In other injury news, Jan Skorpik and David Hymovitch are out this weekend, joining Ben Strinden, John Druskinis and Luke Krys on the Jacks' injury report.

In the wake of Skorpik's injury, Nate Reid will take the reigns in net for Muskegon. The Yale commit was named USHL Goaltender of the Week last week, going 3-0-0 with a miniscule 1.19 GAA. Is Reid taking over the #1 spot in net for the Jacks?

"I wouldn't say that," said Hamilton. "He has earned himself the right to play this weekend. We've been handling it on a game-to-game basis this year and he'll get another shot to prove himself this weekend."

Muskegon's games against Youngstown are scheduled for 7:05pm both Friday and Saturday at the Covelli Centre. Both games will be aired on HockeyTV.