The Muskegon Lumberjacks started off their regular season play with crucial victories over two well respected Western Conference opponents at the 2018 USHL Fall Classic.
Egor Afanasyev guided the Jacks to victory on Friday afternoon against the defending Clark Cup Champion, Fargo Force. Afanasyev recorded the USHL's first "hat-trick" of the season, while goaltender Brandon Bussi turned aside 24 of the 27 shots faced to earn his first career USHL victory by a score of 4-3.
On Saturday the Lumberjacks did not lose a stride, as they stormed out to a 4-0 lead after the 1st period against the Sioux City Musketeers. Jagger Joshua opened the scoring on a tic-tac-toe passing play, set up beautifully by Bobby Lynch, and Daniil Gushchin. The Jacks would later score three goals in just over three minutes to end the 1st period. After weathering the storm of three unanswered goals from the Musketeers in the 2nd period, the Jacks found their rhythm in the 3rd period as Bobby Lynch recorded his first goal of the season, while James McIsaac capped it off with an empty netter to make it a 6-3 final. Brandon Bussi earned his second career USHL victory in the process as he turned away 22 of the 25 Musketeer shots.
Head Coach Mike Hamilton said: "It's great to get off to the right start and see to contributions from everyone. It's vital to pick up as many points as possible early on in the season to help establish ourselves in the standings." The Jacks sit in a four way tie for first in the USHL standings with four points. Afanasyev finds himself as the leagues top goal scorer after the weekend with four goals, and sits in four way tie for second in league points with five.
The Lumberjacks travel to Youngstown this weekend to take on the Phantoms both Friday and Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:05 PM, and can be viewed on HockeyTV.com or follow our Twitter @MuskegonJacks for live game updates and behind the scenes coverage.
The Lumberjacks will return to L.C. Walker Arena on Saturday October 13th for their home opener against the Chicago Steel, and team poster giveaway! The Jacks also play home to the Youngstown Phantoms on October 14th for Faith and Family Night. Tickets are on sale now at https://startickets.com/venues/item/lc-walker-arena or call (231) 724-5225.