MUSKEGON, MI – In case you missed it, there’s kind of a Star Wars theme going on right now.
Muskegon’s turn to celebrate the Galaxy Far, Far Away will be this Saturday, January 12 when the Lumberjacks host the Youngstown Phantoms at L.C. Walker Arena. Game time is 7:15 p.m.
To celebrate we’ll drop some Star Wars quotes/references throughout this preview for the upcoming Lumberjacks weekend, which also includes a home Sunday matinee (3:15 p.m. puck drop) against Central Illinois.
Muskegon returned home from the 415-mile trek to Cedar Rapids, Iowa after splitting the 2-game series with the RoughRiders. I’m sure at least one of the Lumberjacks shouted “Weesa Hooooome!” upon stepping off the bus in Muskegon.
The Lumberjacks are gearing up to play Youngstown, which is 398 light years away. The Phantoms are a presence the Lumberjacks have not felt since…November 9th and 10th, when the Lumberjacks hosted the Phantoms for a pair of games.
Muskegon is 4-1 against Youngstown this season, but the Phantoms are on a 1-game winning streak since they escaped L.C. Walker Arena with a 4-3 win on Nov. 10. Perhaps the Lumberjacks underestimated the power of the dark side that night?
Three of the five games between the teams have been decided by just one goal. These aren’t the same droids the Lumberjacks have been looking for, as the Phantoms are on a three-game winning streak and have improved to 14-12-0-3, good for 31 points. They’re just a point out of third place with at least one game in hand over all three teams tied for third in the East.
Brett Murray has wielded a very hot lightsaber lately. The 6-foot, 235-pound lefty is on an 11-game point streak in which he’s totaled 10 goals and 12 assists to vault into the scoring lead in the UHSL.
The force has been strong with this one, as Murray’s 39 points is tied with Waterloo’s Matej Blumel for the USHL lead. The Buffalo Sabre 4th-round draft pick (2016) has caused Senator Palpatine to murmur, “We shall look forward to watching your career with great interest.”
Connor MacEachern has been a good padawan with Murray, as he has 28 points this season, good for 18th in the league.
Two forces will collide Saturday as Youngstown’s Jack Malone, the reigning USHL Player of the Week, will try to stay hot against Muskegon goalie Brandon Bussi.
Master Bussi has channeled patience well to lead the galaxy in wins (23) and shutouts (six).
Malone tallied a hat trick and totaled six points, including three goals and three assists, in Youngstown’s pair of wins last week. He’s third on the team in scoring.
The Lumberjacks seem to be facing all kinds of hot teams lately, as their second opponent of the weekend, Central Illinois, is also on a three-game winning streak.
The Lumberjacks hope to remind the Flying Aces that flying into Muskegon “Isn’t like dusting crops at home”. So far the Lumberjacks own a 1-0 record over the Flying Aces thanks to a 5-1 win on Nov. 11.
Muskegon will also try to remind Central Illinois there are “Always bigger fish”.
Central Illinois though will tell us to “Never tell them the odds”. The Flying Aces are led by Trevor Janicke and Jeremy Davidson, each of whom has collected 25 points this season.
Muskegon will “Do, or do not. There is no try” as they go for another sweep this weekend.
The Lumberjacks are still tops in the whole USHL by just one point over Tri-City, which happens to be next weekend’s oppontent, and tops in the East by 14 points over Chicago.
The Lumberjacks are looking for big-time support at the L.C. Walker Arena Saturday and Sunday as they do battle with two of the hottest teams in the league.
I hope, for all your sakes, they don’t “Find your lack of faith disturbing”.