MUSKEGON, MI – Three games in three days is daunting enough.
Six games in the span of nine days as a result of two back-to-back three-game weekends is a different animal entirely.
That’s what’s facing the Muskegon Lumberjacks this week.
After going 1-2 this past weekend, including a short trip to Chicago last Friday before returning home, the Lumberjacks have just three non-game days before starting another back-to-back-to-back three-game stretch beginning Thursday in Bloomington, Illinois against the Central Illinois Flying Aces.
“The schedule’s not too kind right now,” Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton said. “The guys are being tested a little bit right now.
“We circled this month. We knew what we were getting into and that it would take a lot of work to stay on track.”
Unlike last weekend, where the Lumberjacks faced off against just two opponents, this weekend will be against three different opponents with almost no time to prepare in between.
Hamilton gave the players Monday off to recuperate from three consecutive games, then had them take Tuesday morning off before gathering them back together for practice Tuesday night.
Muskegon will head out Wednesday on its close to five-hour, 292-mile journey to Bloomington for a rare matinee, 12:07 p.m. EST game on Thursday afternoon.
After that game against the 7th-place team in the Eastern Conference, the Lumberjacks will be off to Plymouth Michigan to take on Team USA’s U17s Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
The Lumberjacks will travel back home following the battle with Team USA, which occupies sixth place in the East with 43 points, to host last-place Madison at 7:15 p.m. to conclude their three games at three different sites journey.
“I like what I’m seeing from them, especially since we have a lot of firepower out right now,” Hamilton said. “Our compete level has been very good.”
Hamilton is hopeful some of his players will return from injury soon, but is confident whoever takes the ice can get the job done.
The Lumberjacks are looking to increase their lead in the East over Chicago, which sits 10 points behind with less than two months to play in the regular season. They’re also looking to stay within reach of Tri-City, which is tops in the West and leads all USHL teams with 70 points, five more than the Lumberjacks have through 45 games.
Central Illinois is on a four-game losing streak, while both of the Team USA squad have been playing good hockey of late. The Capitols are hoping to turn things around and build on the momentum they’ve gained their last two games, which includes a win and an overtime loss.
Muskegon is a perfect 4-0 against the Flying Aces so far, with two more road games coming up against them in March.
For the complete USHL standings, click here.