Neither team wanted to give up on Friday when the Muskegon Lumberjacks and Dubuque Fighting Saints locked horns in Iowa in the first of a two-game weekend series.
The game was tied 1-1 after one period and 2-2 after two periods, and the score stayed that way through the third period and overtime.
The outcome was finally decided in an overtime shootout, when Muskegon’s Matvei Gridin was the only one of six shooters to score, giving the Lumberjacks a dramatic 3-2 victory.
The Jacks improved to 8-6-0 on the season. They are alone in fourth place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference with 16 points, one point behind second-place Team USA and Green Bay and five points behind first-place Chicago.
Dubuque fell to 6-4-1. The Jacks and Fighting Saints will go at it again in Dubuque on Saturday night.
The Lumberjacks got a great performance from forward Jake Richard, who scored his team-leading eighth and ninth goals of the season, both on power plays.
Muskegon also benefited from strong goaltending by Conor Callaghan, who stopped 23 of 25 shots in regulation and the five-minute overtime period, plus all three one-on-one shots he faced in the shootout.
Callaghan kept the Jacks alive when he stopped a penalty shot taken by Dubuque’s Ryan St. Louis just 53 seconds into the five-minute overtime period. If the puck had gone in the net, the game would have been over.
The Lumberjacks got on the scoreboard first when Richard netted his first power play goal at 6:44 of the first period. Gavin McCarthy collected his 11th assist of the season on the tally.
Dubuque’s Jake Sondreal scored about 10 minutes later and the score was tied 1-1 after one period.
The Fighting Saints took a 2-1 lead at 8:12 of the second period on a goal by Max Montes, then Richard netted his second power play goal, unassisted, at the 13:18 mark.
The third period and five-minute overtime period were scoreless, leading to the shootout to decide the outcome.
Richard and David Hymovitch had the first two chances for Muskegon and failed to score.
Dubuque’s Nils Juntorp and Michael Burchill also missed the mark on their opportunities.