Plymouth MI- Danil Gushchin’s record-breaking 65th goal tonight made all the difference, as Muskegon went on to win Saturday against Team USA U18 by a score of 4-3.
Gushchin’s 65th career goal as a Lumberjack puts him atop the Jacks all-time goal-scoring list, passing Matheson Iacopelli’s record of 64 tallies.
An early power play for Muskegon was unsuccessful as the U18s’ aggressive penalty kill kept the Lumberjacks in their own zone. Four on four ensued after offsetting minors. This was short-lived- following a high hit delivered to Jacks defenseman Jacob Guevin, the Jacks were granted a four-on-three power play. Cam Berg converted, tipping in Danil Gushchin’s shot at 10:58, giving the Lumberjacks the early lead.
Not to be deterred, the Americans responded quickly at 12:42, rifling one over the shoulder of Nate Reid and evening the game 1-1. Muskegon’s penalty kill came up large around the midway mark of the frame to kill off a John Larking minor penalty. A late burst from the U18s in the final minutes resulted in more Reid saves to close out the frame.
Muskegon roared out of the gates in the second period, but the U-18s clamped down and put sustained pressure on Reid. However, the Yale-committed netminder continued to turn away shots.
On a Cristophe Tellier spin-o-rama pass, Jack Williams scored on a golden opportunity right in front of U18 goaltender Gibson Homer, breaking the tie at 9:20.
Gushchin doubled up the lead on his backhand at 12:41, scoring the record-breaking goal and making the score 3-1 Lumberjacks.
A late tripping minor to David Hymovitch at 14:51, gave Team USA some life, but more saves by Reid kept Muskegon ahead.
As time wound down, USAtook a hooking minor with only 13 seconds left in the second.
The carry-over power play time got off to a hot start when Dylan Wendt scored on a backdoor feed from Tanner Kelly at 1:01, upping the ante to 4-1 Jacks.
USA won a puck battle behind the Lumberjack net and made Muskegon pay at 4:00, showing some resurgence. This goal seemed to energize the U-18s, as they continued to control possession throughout the third trailing just 4-2. This culminated in a redirected puck flying into the net at 9:30, sinking the Muskegon lead to just one.
The Americans shifted their strategy, as they turned to a dump and chase style of play down one goal late. Muskegon got a golden opportunity on a late man advantage that was defended strongly by the U18s.
The red-hot final minute for USA was sparked by the extra attacker when Homer was pulled, but Muskegon held on for the win.
Muskegon starts off a three-in-three at home against Dubuque on Thursday April 8, at 7pm EST.
Muskegon Goals: Berg (25), Williams (17), Gushchin (27), Wendt (16)
Muskegon Assists: Gushchin (29), Guevin (29, 30), Tellier (27), Quinn Hutson (21), Pennington (25), Hank Kempf (6)