MUSKEGON – When your goalie only gives up one goal, you can usually count on winning.
When your offense unleashes 43 shots on goal, you can usually count on winning.
All of that happened for the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Saturday- but somehow they emerged without a victory.
The Jacks outshot visiting Youngstown 43-34. Muskegon goalie Raythan Robbins stopped 33 of 34 shots and made some amazing saves along the way.
But only one shot went in the net – the 76th shot of the game, in fact – and the Jacks lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to the visiting Phantoms in front of a huge crowd at Trinity health Arena.
The game winner came from Youngstown’s Andon Cerbone, who managed to trickle the puck past Robbins as he was falling down in a scrum in front of the net with 5:02 remaining in the game.
That goal culminated an intense goalie dual between Robbins and Youngstown’s Jacob Fowler, who combined to stop 76 of 77 shots on the night.
“Both goalies played tremendous,” said Lumberjacks Coach Parker Burgess, whose team fell to 15-14-2 on the season. “I thought we outchanced them and outplayed them for the most part, but they executed one time and we didn’t.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t get rewarded for the work that we did for the weekend, but we have to be really proud of the players’ effort and our defensive game.”
Both teams had great scoring chances all night long, but Robbins and Fowler took turns making great stops in countless situations where a goal seemed imminentIf ever a goalie was denied a win that he deserved, it was Robbins on Saturday – but he didn’t seem too upset by the outcome after the game.
He admitted he’s never been in a game quite like that one, but credited Fowler with a great performance, took the loss in stride, and said the pressure of the tight contest never got to him.
“Fowler is a great goalie, obviously, and it was a fun game to be a part of,” Robbins said. “I wish we were on the other side of it, but there are a lot of games left so we will be all right.”
“You could not ask for a better game to be a part of. It was down to the wire, and we had our chances in the end but we couldn’t get that one in.”
Robbins was great all weekend, allowing one goal on Friday when the Jacks beat Youngstown 3-1, then following up with the near shutout on Saturday.
He finished the weened with 59 saves on 61 shots, and you can’t ask for much more than that.
His performance was not lost on Burgess.
“I don’t think we can rely on him to only give up one goal every game -, we need to score some goals here – but he was tremendous, and I am really proud of him,” the coach said.
Burgess was also pleased with another great performance from the Lumberjacks’ defense, which had been allowing a lot of shots and goals in recent weeks, but only saw two scored on them this weekend.
“They are a capable group and I credit their leadership at the back end,” he said. “They have done a good job being committed to playing well without the puck.”
The Jacks clearly had the offensive advantage in the game.
After being outshot 18-17 in the first period, they had a 10-6 shot advantage in a quieter second period, then really poured it on with a 16-10 edge in the third.
But nothing got past Fowler, even when the Jacks pulled Robbins for an extra attacker with 2:15 left in the game.
“We had chances,” Burgess said. Fowler is a world-class goalie, but when you get chances pucks need to go in.”