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PLAYOFF PREVIEW — #3 Muskegon moves to Eastern Conference Final, meets #5 Madison for best-of-five series

By Ryan Vallon, 05/04/22, 4:30PM EDT

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MUSKEGON, Mich. — The #3 Muskegon Lumberjacks have punched their ticket to the 2022 Eastern Conference Final, where they will face off with the #5 Madison Capitols in a best-of-five, third-round playoff series. Games 1 and 2 are scheduled at Mercy Health Arena in Muskegon on Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, respectively, with puck drop at 7:00 pm EDT. The Lumberjacks will go on the road for at least one game in the Conference Final, with Game 3 slated for Monday, May 9 at 7:00 pm in Madison. Game 4 (if necessary) will also take place in Madison on Tuesday, May 10 with a decisive Game 5 (if necessary) on Thursday, May 12 in Muskegon. The Eastern Conference Finals will be a best-of-five format, meaning a team needs to win three games in the series to advance to the Clark Cup Final. With Madison qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 2014, this will become the first-ever time these two teams meet in the Clark Cup Playoffs. Head-to-head this year in the regular season, the Jacks split the season series going 4-4-0-0 against the Capitols.

On, Wisconsin!

The Madison Capitols are red-hot in the 2022 Clark Cup Playoffs, most recently eliminating the defending Clark Cup Champion Chicago Steel in a three-game thriller. The Caps came into the postseason as the #5 seed and have been branded underdogs throughout their entire run, starting with a stunner against the Youngstown Phantoms in a First Round series sweep. Heavily favored to lose in the Conference Semifinals, the Capitols shocked everyone after claiming Games 1 and 3 to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. Leading the forward group in the postseason is Jake Dunlap, who leads the team in goals and points with five lamplighters and one assist for six points. Jack Musa, Jack Horbach, Tyler Haskins, Reid Pabich, and Nick DeSantis are all tied for second in points with four each. On defense, Luke Mittelstadt leads the defensive group with three points, with Chabrier, Dangos, and Dexheimer behind him. The real story with the Capitols is goaltender Simon Latkoczy, who is 4-1 with a 2.21 GAA and a .921 save percentage. The Latvian netminder, who won a Clark Cup last season with Chicago, has been the steady presence, leading Madison to their first Conference Final.

Saints Swept

The Lumberjacks knocked out the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, sweeping them in the best-of-three series in two games. Game 1 saw the high-flying Muskegon offense come to life in a 4-to-3 win after Jack Williams’ game-winning goal in the third on the power play. Sunday night in Dubuque for Game 2 was very different with Muskegon holding a 5-to-1 lead in the second, but Dubuque fighting back to tie it 5-to-5 in the third. However, the Lumberjacks were not phased, as Muskegon rattled off three more goals to upend the Saints by a final score of 8-to-5, which included a pair of goals from Tyler Hotson, Ben Strinden, and a hat trick by Quinn Hutson. With the series sweep, the Lumberjacks punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Final for the third consecutive postseason.

Hotty the Hero

Despite only getting limited time-on-ice, Lumberjacks forward Tyler Hotson came up clutch after scoring two critical goals in Sunday’s Game 2 over Dubuque to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. The Stratford, Ontario native collected his first career playoff goal at 14:01 of the second period, putting Muskegon up 5-to-1 at the time of the goal. After the Lumberjacks squandered the four-goal lead, it would be Hotson who potted the game-winner at 12:34 of the third period, giving the Jacks the 6-to-5 lead. The RPI commit recently completed his first regular season in the USHL, scoring seven goals and 20 assists for 27 points in 60 games.

Hat Trick for Hutson

Lumberjacks sniper Quinn Hutson picked up his first career hat trick after pushing home three pucks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Dubuque. Known for his surgically accurate wrist shot, the Barrington, Ill. native clocked in three separate times, one in each period, which included one-of-two empty netters to seal the victory. The Boston University commit became the seventh Lumberjack in franchise history to hit 100 career points during the regular season and will leave Muskegon as the fifth all-time leading goal scorer in franchise history.

Defenseman of the Week

Jacks rearguard Jacob Guevin has been named USHL Defenseman of the Week for the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2022 Clark Cup Playoffs. This becomes Guevin’s second weekly USHL accolade after he won USHL Defenseman of the Week in week 6 of the regular season. Guevin became a two-time Defenseman of the Week winner after collecting three points (1-2-3) in a pair of Semifinals wins over the Dubuque Fighting Saints. The Drummondville, Quebec native had a two-point night (1-1-2) in Game One, opening the score with a powerplay goal before picking up an assist with the man advantage midway through the third frame of a 4-3 win. On Sunday, Guevin registered a second assist on the weekend midway through the opening period of a Game 2, 8-5 win on Sunday night. The University of Nebraska-Omaha commit now has five points (2-3-5) in four Playoff games this season with a point in all four of Muskegon’s contests this postseason. Guevin is NHL Draft eligible this summer after having been ranked 173rd among North American skaters on the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings and finished the 2021-22 regular season with 57 points (6-51-57) in 59 games. Guevin is in his second full season with the Lumberjacks and was named to the USHL All-Rookie First Team after picking up 45 points (7-38-45) in 53 games his rookie season.

Upcoming Games

Fri. May 6 | 7:00 pm EDT | vs. Madison | Eastern Conference Final, Game 1 | BUY TICKETS

Sat. May 7 | 7:00 pm EDT | vs. Madison | Eastern Conference Final, Game 2 | BUY TICKETS

Mon. May 9 | 8:00 pm EDT | at Madison | Eastern Conference Final, Game 3

Tue. May 10 | 8:00 pm EDT | at Madison | Eastern Conference Final, Game 4 | (if necessary)

Thurs. May 12 | 7:00 pm EDT | vs. Madison | Eastern Conference Final, Game 5 (if necessary) | BUY TICKETS

Camp Dates Announced

The Muskegon Lumberjacks have announced their 2022 Camp Dates for the upcoming season. Registration is now open for the Prospect 07-08 Camp, which runs from May 27-29, 2022 at Mercy Health Arena in downtown Muskegon. Goalie camp is scheduled for June 4-5, 2022, at the Lakeshore Sports Centre. Main Camp, which includes free agents and prospects, will run June 9-11, with Final Main Camp on June 12-15, both at Mercy Health Arena. For more information, visit muskegonlumberjacks.com/camps2022.

Over the Airwaves

All Muskegon Lumberjacks Clark Cup Playoff games, both home and away, will be broadcast live on HockeyTV (Video, paid subscription) on Mixlr (Audio, free of charge) with Lumberjacks play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Vallon.

NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings

On Thursday, May 5, National Hockey League (NHL) Central Scouting released their final rankings for the upcoming 2022 NHL Entry Draft. In all, three current Lumberjacks, three affiliates, and one draft pick made the list. Current Lumberjacks include defensemen Jacob Guevin (No. 173), Tyler Dunbar (No. 175), and Jeremiah Slavin (No. 219). In addition, three affiliates were named to the watch list, those being George Fegaras (No. 82), Michael Callow (No. 131), and Matthew Morden (No. 190) plus one draft pick, Jackson Krykostas (No. 203). The 2022 NHL Draft is scheduled from July 7-8, 2022, and will be hosted by the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.

Follow the Jacks

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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.