MUSKEGON, MI- It came down to the regular-season’s final weekend, but the Muskegon Lumberjacks clinched the number two seed in the 2021 Clark Cup Playoffs. Because of that, the Jacks will host the Green Bay Gamblers for all three games in a best-of-three Eastern Conference Semifinal.
Game one will be hosted at Mercy Health Arena on Friday at 7:00pm with game two on Saturday at 7:00pm. If necessary, game three will take place Sunday at 5:00pm. Tickets for the series can be purchased now at https://www.muskegonlumberjacks.com/tickets.
Muskegon and Green Bay are very well acquainted with one another- the two foes battled ten times throughout the regular season. Both teams won five games each, making this arguably the most intriguing matchup in the first round of the playoffs.
Both Muskegon and Green Bay boast plenty of star power. The Jacks are led by San Jose Sharks prospect Danil Gushchin, who is now Muskegon’s all-time leader in goals, points, and assists. Gushchin recorded the third-most goals (32) and fifth-most points (64) in the USHL this season.
The Gamblers are led by their star defenseman, Mason Lohrei. The Boston Bruins draft pick and obvious USHL defenseman of the year leads all USHL blueliners in nearly every offensive category including goals, assists, points, game-winning goals, and power-play points.
While each team rosters a clearcut star, Muskegon’s depth is what makes them special. The Lumberjacks have six players with 45 or more points this season, while Green Bay has only two: Lohrei and Jake Schmaltz.
Muskegon’s biggest strength may be their ability to roll four lines and still get production, while Green Bay’s advantage is with their power play. The Gamblers have the third-best unit in the USHL (23.5%) and with weapons like Lohrei, Schmaltz, and Cam Thiesing, the unit can strike at any given time.
Goaltending always plays a role when the playoffs roll around and the team with the hotter goalie may very well win the series. Both teams have two netminders that can do just that. Green Bay’s tandem of Aaron Randazzo and Matt Davis has been the best in the Eastern Conference for most of the regular season, while Muskegon’s Jan Skorpik and Nate Reid have come on strong during the second half of the season.
All four of the above rank in the top five in the East in goals against average, and all four are in the top six in terms of save percentage (among qualified goalies). Muskegon has had a true timeshare: Skorpik has played in 30 games to Reid’s 27. Green Bay will likely go with Davis for game one, who they have leaned on more heavily (35 games played, 20 wins).
The goaltending situation for the Jacks somewhat embodies the ability of this team. They have talent all over the ice- we just don’t know which players will shine on any given night. Many nights, it’s been Gushchin or Cameron Berg, but fourth-liner Philip Tresca has also stepped up in a big way lately. Any Jack could step into the spotlight on any given night.
The road to the Clark Cup begins Friday night in Muskegon.
Playoff tickets are on sale now for Friday, April 30th (7pm) Saturday, March 1st (7pm) and Sunday, March 2nd (5pm if necessary). Adult tickets purchased before April 25th are just $15! Tickets are limited and can be purchased at www.muskegonlumberjacks.com/tickets. For more information, please call the Muskegon Lumberjacks Business Office at (231) 799-7000