MUSKEGON MI – The Muskegon Lumberjacks edged out the Green Bay Gamblers in a close game Friday night, taking a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Brad Marek scored the game-winning goal at 19:22 in the third period, lifting the Jacks to the 3-2 win.
Cristophe Tellier got the game started with a bang at 1:54. Off a Green Bay turnover, Tellier banked the puck off of Green Bay defenseman Xan Gurney and into the net, drawing first blood and making it 1-0.
Muskegon continued to clamp down on the Gamblers and it paid off at 8:29 as a juicy rebound from Green Bay goaltender Matt Davis got put home by Cam Berg, doubling the Muskegon lead 2-0.
19 seconds later, however, Green Bay raised the stakes. Jackson Hallum got behind the Muskegon defense and rifled a shot past Jan Skorpik, cutting into the Muskegon lead 2-1. After a brief scrum, coinciding minor penalties resulted in a four on four. That only elevated the physicality, but yielded no goals, rounding out the first period.
In the middle period, an early power play for Muskegon kept the momentum in favor of the Lumberjacks, but no goals resulted from the man advantage. The same luck could not be said for the penalty kill, as Jesse Tucker tied the game for Green Bay at 12:50, 2-2. This tying power-play tally seemed to energize the Gamblers, who applied pressure in their offensive zone. Muskegon seemed to adapt, as on a later penalty, the Lumberjacks swiftly killed it off to end the frame.
After a significant delay due to ice conditions, the third period began and we played on. Muskegon had a couple solid chances including a cheeky move by Marek, but Davis walled it off and kept the score tied.
A questionable call against Alex Gagne resulted in power play for Green Bay, but Muskegon’s penalty kill came up big and stymied the Gamblers. The continued duration of the third was full of rushes up and down the ice. Ultimately, Marek tipped in a Hank Kempf point shot at 19:22, giving Muskegon the late lead 3-2.
There was some late game penalties dished in the waning seconds, but it did little to change the outcome of a Muskegon victory.
Muskegon has the chance to close it out versus the Gamblers tomorrow night, May 1 at 7:00pm EST and advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
Muskegon Goals: Tellier (1), Berg (1) Marek (1)
Muskegon Assists: Tanner Kelly (1), Marek (1), Kempf (1)