MUSKEGON, MI- The main story this week has been the splash made by GM John Vanbiesbrouck, bringing in forward Austin Alger from Omaha one day before the draft-pick trade deadline. But there are certainly other stories to be told.
This weekend’s games against the Des Moines Buccaneers are important for more reasons than just one; yes, Alger will take the ice for the first time in a Jacks uniform, but don’t overlook the fact that we could be previewing a Clark Cup Finals matchup.
Muskegon and Des Moines are both owners of a playoff spot, with the Jacks currently hanging onto third place in the East and Des Moines sitting fourth in the West.
The standings are as tight as they have been all season, with eight USHL teams between 50 and 56 points. Both the Buccaneers and Lumberjacks find themselves in that window, and the Bucs’ 23-13-4 record is nearly identical to Muskegon’s mark of 24-13-3.
The standings are always a story this time of year, but maybe more intriguing are the stories of several former Lumberjacks who will return to LC Walker Arena this weekend.
Head coach Dave Allison, defenseman Scooter Brickey and forwards David Keefer and Chase Ellingson all face their former team this weekend. Brickey will be making his first appearance at LC Walker Arena since he was traded to Des Moines on January 26th. Since the trade, Brickey has scored one goal, but has not registered an assist in four games.
Keefer played one season in Muskegon in 2014-15, and Ellingson was on the team during the preseason, but was dealt to Des Moines for Keenan Suthers before appearing in a regular-season game.
Allison played a 10-year professional career, making it as far as the NHL for a three-game stint with Montreal in 1983-’84. He played for the Lumberjacks from 1985-’87, and put together the highest-scoring season of his career in ‘86-’87, tallying 11 goals, 35 assists, and 337 penalty minutes.
Since retiring in 1989, Allison has coached at every level, including the NHL.
In his third season as Des Moines’ bench boss, Allison’s aiming to get the Buccaneers back into the postseason for the first time since 2006. The Bucs’ 10-year postseason drought is the league’s longest.
Muskegon has protected home ice very well this season, boasting a 12-4-2 record at LC Walker Arena, and Des Moines has been strong on the road, coming into play 11-7-2.
Both Friday and Saturday’s games will begin at 7:15pm. Friday night is Superhero night! Many of your favorite Superheroes will be in attendance, and fans can dress up too! Saturday is Sweetheart night and comes with an awesome ticket special: two tickets and a $25 Texas Roadhouse gift card for just $40. This must be purchased at the sales office by Friday at 5:00pm.