MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks ceded a two-goal lead last Saturday and lost the second in a two-game series to Dubuque, 4-3.
The Jacks led 3-1 midway through the second period, but allowed two unanswered goals the rest of regulation time, leading to an overtime period and then a shootout. The Fighting Saints beat Muskegon 1-0 in a shootout and handed the Jacks a tough 4-3 loss at Mercy Health Arena.
The Jacks are now 0-4-1 in their last five games and 1-7-2 this season. Dubuque improved his record to 6-0-4.
Despite the latest loss, Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton remained optimistic.
“When you go through funks like this you have to work a little harder and you have to take a little break,” Hamilton said. “When you’re down and keep getting kicked, you have to find a way to keep getting out of it. We do good things, we have a lot of talent and we believe in the group that we have.
Hamilton noted the significantly improved defensive effort.
“We just kept the game in front of us,” said Mike Hamilton. “The guys stuck with a game plan where we were determined to put pucks behind their defense and keep the puck in front of us. I was proud of the way the guys reacted and played today. They probably deserved a better fate, but in the end we didn’t. But I loved the effort and I loved the heart.
One bright spot for the Jacks was goalie Cameron Korpi’s play. He stopped 17 of 20 shots in regulation and made some big saves late in the third period and in overtime.
Korpi started the season as the only replacement for former starter Jan Skorpik, who was released last week, and now shares backup duties with Carson Limesand, behind new starter Platon Dadorozhny.
“Korpi is a youngster who continues to improve,” said Hamilton. “He’s an integral part of our young squad and he kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win. But we have to find a way to get a few more pucks in the net. “
Tyler Hotson gave the Jacks a 1-0 lead when he rebounded at 5:07 of the first period.
Dubuque collected a power-play goal from Connor Kurth early in the second period, but Muskegon then appeared to take control of the game.
Jake Braccini intervened on Dubuque’s goal and scored at 5:28 of the second period, giving the Jacks a 2-1 lead. Then Hotson scored his second goal of the game at 9:07 with a tack to the right of the Fighting Saints’ goal, giving Muskegon a 3-1 lead.
Dubuque got a power-play opportunity when the Jacks were caught with too many men on the ice midway through the second, and Stephen Halliday took advantage with a power-play goal at 9:42.
The Jacks were leading 3-2 after two periods. They were extremely strong defensively in the first two periods, allowing just three shots on goal in the first period and six in the second.
Dubuque tied the game with another Halliday goal just 28 seconds into the third period, and the settlement ended in a tie.
Karki was very strong late in the game, making two big saves in the final 30 seconds of extra time, and two more in the five-minute overtime period, including one against Halliday as he started off on a breakaway, trying to score his third goal. .
Kenny Connors scored for Dubuque in the first round of the shootout, and it ended up making all the difference. Muskegon’s Phil Tresca hit the crossbar on goal with his shot, but it was as close as the Jacks could score.
The Jacks outscored the Fighting Saints 30-20 in the game. Dubuque goalkeeper Paxton Geusel took the win stopping 27 shots.
The Lumberjacks were dominated by special teams. They were 0-for-6 with a power play, while allowing Dubuque to score two power play goals on three occasions.