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Muskegon downs Green Bay 4-2 in rubber match

By Scott Brandenburg, 11/30/18, 11:30PM EST

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The Lumberjacks beat the Gamblers twice out of three straight games against the Eastern Conference foe

GREEN BAY, WISC - The Muskegon Lumberjacks accomplished many things with their 4-2 win Friday night in Green Bay.

First, the Lumberjacks made sure they still don't have a losing streak through 19 games this season. The win helps them improve to 16-3 and stay in the top spot in the United States Hockey League with 32 points.

Muskegon also made sure it took the series lead against Green Bay at 2-1 after the two teams split last weekend in Muskegon. Muskegon won going away 8-3 last Friday before Green Bay rebounded for a 6-3 win Saturday.

"Obviously it was a big one for us after we lost to them Saturday," Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton said. "One of the keys to a successful season is never to lose two in a row. This was an opportunity for us to get up on them, so it was a huge win for us."

The other thing the win does is begin a tough, long road trip on the right foot.

Muskegon moves on to take on Madison Saturday and then travels to Dubuque Sunday.

But first the Lumberjacks wanted to take care of business Friday against the latest team to hand them an 'L'.

The Lumberjacks absolutely stymied the Gamblers through two periods Friday and led 3-0 through 40 minutes.

Green Bay, which stays stuck on 19 points, tried to perform a little third period magic with a pair of goals to get to within one goal, but Alex Yakovenko's empty net goal with 59 seconds to play sealed the win for the visiting Lumberjacks.

Nolan Sullivan had himself a day for Muskegon. He recorded a point on Muskegon's first three goals, including his ninth and 10th goals of the season, to help deliver the win.

Sullivan scored the only goal of the first period at 4:00 on an assist from Kienan Draper in Draper's first game with the team. Sullivan then helped Andrei Golikov score his first goal of the season 2:29 into the second period in his Lumberjacks debut.

Sullivan struck again with 3:52 to play in the middle frame for what proved to be the game-winning goal. Oliver MacDonald assisted on the play.

"Sulli was special,' Hamilton said. "He was great defensively and found a way to chip in and bring some offense as well. He was a leader for us like he always is."

Nick Leitner gave the Gamblers some life 3:44 into the third period, and Noah Ganske gave them and the 2,277 fans in attendance hope at 16:35, but Brandon Bussi again made big saves when he needed to before Yakovenko shut the door.

Bussi improved to 16-1 on the year as he stopped 22 of 24 Green Bay shots. The Lumberjacks, who chased starting Green Bay goalie Evan Fear on Sullivan's second goal, outshot the hosts 36-24.

Jake Begley stopped all 15 shots he faced in relief of Fear.

Neither team scored on the power play. Muskegon was 0-for-2 and Green Bay was 0-for-4.

For more stats and info, visit ushl.com