MUSKEGON, Mich. — After ringing in the new year, the Muskegon Lumberjacks navigate to the Badger State as they open up a two-game weekend series against the Madison Capitols on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 7 and 8, respectively. Both contests will start at 8:05 pm EST from Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, Wisc. in the outskirts of Wisconsin’s capital city. This will mark the third voyage to America’s Dairyland for Muskegon and the second tour of duty in Madison. The last time each member club faced off against each other, both teams split the weekend series back on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, with the Capitols taking Friday’s contest by a score of 7-to-3 and the Lumberjacks splitting the series with a 5-to-4 victory. Furthermore, Muskegon’s win on Nov. 27 over Madison kickstarted an active seven-game home winning streak for the Lumberjacks.
The Madison Capitols enter this weekend three points behind Muskegon in the Eastern Conference standings with 30, and an overall record of 14-13-2-0. The last time the Caps took the ice, they upset the first-placed Chicago Steel to ring in the new year with a 4-to-2 win on Sunday, Jan. 2. The Capitols exhibit one NHL drafted player on their roster, that being Kyle Kukkonen, who was selected by the Anaheim Ducks #162 overall in the sixth round of the 2021 NHL Draft. The Michigan Tech commit is currently fourth on the team in points, having scored nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points. Leading the way for Madison is Nick DeSantis, who currently leads the team in points with a stat line of 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points. DeSantis recently announced his commitment to Cornell University. Another player to look out for is Jake Dunlap, who shares the team lead in goals with DeSantis with 11 lamplighters. On defense, the two-headed monster of Luke Mittelstadt and Ben Dexheimer patrol the Madison blueline with offensive firepower. Mittlestadt, the younger brother of NHL’er Casey, leads team defensemen in goals and points with eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points. Meanwhile, Dexheimer is number one in the assist category with three goals and 18 assists for 21 points. In goal, Simon Latkoczy has remained Madison ace in the crease this season with an overall record of 12-6-1-0, a 3.24 GAA and a .894 save percentage. Latkoczy recently represented his native country of Slovakia in the 2022 World Junior Championships, but the tournament was brought to a screeching halt before eventually being canceled due to COVID-19.
About Last Weekend
The Lumberjacks bid adieu to 2021 and flipped the calendar to 2022 on a high note as they remain locked into third place in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 15-10-1-2 and 33 points. On Friday’s matchup with Youngstown on New Year’s Eve, the Lumberjacks went stride-for-stride with the Phantoms, ultimately winning the contest in overtime with a Quinn Hutson power play goal. Jake Braccini and Phil Tresca also scored for Muskegon in the 3-to-2 win. The following night on Saturday, the Jacks rang in 2022 with another tight victory, this time against Team USA U17 by a final score of 5-to-4. Ben Strinden, Quinn Hutson, Jake Richard, Jake Braccini, and Phil Tresca all scored for the Lumberjacks. After the weekend sweep, Muskegon collected four more points in the Eastern Conference standings, are the fourth-best team in the USHL, and are currently riding a three-game winning streak dating back to Dec. 18.
Lumberjacks forward and Jacksonville, Fla. native Jake Richard has started to open up his game offensively this season after scoring goals in four consecutive contests in December. His first career goal came on Dec. 11 in Chicago, where fellow teammate Nathan McBrayer started the night of ‘firsts’ with his career goal as well. Two more lamp lighters came off of Richard’s stick in a 3-to-2 upset over Team USA U18 and a 6-to-3 loss in Green Bay, but Richard’s highlight of the season came the following night on Dec. 18. With the score tied at two and with just under two minutes in regulation before the holiday break, Richard popped in the game-winning goal with 90 seconds left in the third period to win the game for Muskegon. A draft choice for the Lumberjacks, the 17-year old spent last season with the Florida Alliance 16U team, where he amassed 45 goals and 29 assists for 74 points and is poised to be a leading scorer for Muskegon in the years to come.
We’re Going Streaking!
Three Lumberjacks players are currently on active point-scoring streaks, those being Quinn Hutson, Jake Braccini, and Jack Williams. Hutson, committed to Boston University, is on an active four-game scoring streak dating back to Dec. 18 where he has accumulated three goals and four assists for seven points. Braccini, a recent St. Thomas commit has scored four goals in four consecutive games. Williams, the Northeastern recruit, has been one of the team’s best playmakers by scoring four assists in the last three games. Additionally, the Lumberjacks have won three-in-a-row and are on an active seven-game home winning streak, dating back to Nov. 27.
Upcoming Theme Nights - 13 Loves Pets/Star Wars Night/Youth Hockey Night
On Friday, Jan. 14, it’s WZZM 13 on Your Side Loves Pets Night! Pound Buddies will be on the concourse with rescue animals available for adoption. The following night on Saturday, Jan. 15, it’s Star Wars Night! In a galaxy not far, far away...the Jacks take on the Green Bay Gamblers! Whether you’re on the light side or the dark side, you’re invited to watch the action with all your favorite Star Wars characters! Finally, it’s Youth Hockey Night on Sunday, Jan. 16! A night to honor local youth hockey organizations. For more information, call the Muskegon Lumberjacks Business office at (231)-799-7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the Airwaves
NHL Central Scouting Watch List
On Tuesday, Oct. 19, National Hockey League (NHL) Central Scouting released their preliminary watch list for the upcoming 2022 NHL Entry Draft. In all, six current and three future Jacks made the list. Current Lumberjacks include defensemen Tyler Dunbar, Jacob Guevin, and Jeremiah Slavin; forwards Owen Mehlenbacher and Ethan Whitcomb; and goaltender Cameron Korpi. In addition to the original six, three affiliates were named to the watch list, those being Michael Callow, Matthew Morden, and George Fegaras. The Lumberjacks also boast 12 players eligible to be selected in this year's NHL Entry Draft which will take place from July 7 through July 9 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.
Upcoming Home Games
Fri. Jan. 14 | 7:10 pm EST | vs. Team USA U17 | 13 Loves Pets | BUY TICKETS
Sat. Jan. 15 | 7:10 pm EST | vs. Green Bay Gamblers | Star Wars Night | BUY TICKETS
Sun. Jan. 16 | 4:00 pm EST | vs. Green Bay Gamblers | Youth Hockey Night | BUY TICKETS
Fri. Jan. 21 | 7:10 pm EST | vs. Youngstown Phantoms | 90’s Night | BUY TICKETS
Sat. Jan. 22 | 7:10 pm EST | vs. Youngstown Phantoms | Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame | BUY TICKETS
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About the Muskegon Lumberjacks
The Muskegon Lumberjacks are proud and dedicated members of the United States Hockey League (USHL), the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league and leading producer of NCAA players and National Hockey League draft picks in the United States. The club’s goal is to create an environment where student-athletes develop into successful young men both on and off the ice, which includes playing the game the right way while keeping up with their studies in the classroom and staying actively involved in the West Michigan community. The organization is committed to providing quality, affordable, and top-notch family entertainment while providing positive role models for the youth and the local community.