MUSKEGON, MI - Muskegon got out-Lumberjacked Saturday.
So many times this season the Muskegon Lumberjacks have put it all together down the stretch of a USHL game to overwhelm their opponent.
It happened as recently as Friday, when Muskegon outscored Green Bay 3-0 in the third in an 8-3 win.
But the Gamblers turned the tables on the Lumberjacks in a big way in front of 2,277 fans at L.C. Walker Arena Saturday. They scored four straight goals in a 2:34 span early in a nightmarish third period to beat the Lumberjacks 6-3.
"We weren't ourselves," Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton said. "We got away from our game plan. We didn't possess the puck and we got a lot of shots but no traffic in front of the net, so the goalie saw all of them coming."
Muskegon suffered just its third loss of the season against 15 wins. Green Bay evened its record at 8-8-2-1 and improved its standing in the jam-packed middle of the Eastern Conference.
The Lumberjacks have put together win streaks of eight, three and four so far this season while as yet avoiding a losing streak.
Muskegon trailed just 2-1 entering the third period looking to win its fifth straight. In the blink of an eye, though, it trailed by five goals, and it came via power play goals and odd-man rushes for the Gamblers.
Jesse Tucker started the onslaught at 2:42 of the third period on the power play. Nicholas Zabaneh converted on a breakaway at 4:04, and 15 seconds later he assisted on Noah Ganske's first goal of the season on a 2-on-1.
Paul Maust added a power play goal a minute later to further stun the Lumberjacks and the home crowd.
"I don't think we necessarily played great as a team," Hamilton said. "We've got a lot to learn from this one."
After a scoreless first period, the guests got on the scoreboard first via Chris Giroday's fourth of the season. Muskegon answered four minutes later as Nolan Sullivan found the back of the net with assists to Cam McDonald and Brock Bremer.
Muskegon wouldn't score again until the final six minutes of the third period. Alex Gaffney scored his seventh and Egor Afanasyev tallied his 11th, but it was too little too late.
Evan Fear recorded the win for Green Bay. Fear made 37 saves on 40 Muskegon shots.
Youngster Cullen DeYoung got the start for Muskegon to give Brandon Bussi a rest. DeYoung stopped 28 of the first 30 shots he saw through two periods, but Green Bay scored four times on 12 shots in the third period to hand him the loss.
"I thought Cullen played well, we just didn't help him out," Hamilton said.
Green Bay went 2-for-5 on the power play, while Muskegon netted no goals on three man advantages.
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