MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks are a longshot to make the Clark Cup playoffs at this point, but they are still giving it everything they have on the ice.
That was obvious this weekend, when the Jacks battled the Dubuque Fighting Saints in a pair of overtime games and came away with a split.
On Friday the Jacks rallied from a two-goal deficit, only to lose 4-3 in overtime.
On Saturday the roles were reversed. The Jacks led 3-1 midway through the second period, the Fighting Saints battled back to tie the score and the game went to OT again.
This time Muskegon didn’t let the opportunity get away. Rookie Sacha Boisvert took a pass from behind the net from Niko Rexine and scored just 29 seconds into the extra period, giving the Jacks an exciting 4-3 victory at Trinity Health Arena.
“The kids always play hard, and it was just nice to see them get rewarded with some positive results,” said Lumberjacks coach Parker Burgess. “The effort is always there, it’s just nice to get over the hump and get the results. These guys deserve it.
“Both games were kind of penalty filled and back-and-forth during the second period. We had the lead tonight and they had it last night, so it was like a flip-flop.”
Unfortunately the victory did not help the Lumberjacks make any progress in the race for sixth place, the final playoff spot in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.
That’s because Cedar Rapids, the team currently in sixth place, beat Waterloo and remained 10 points (five victories) ahead of the Jacks with 14 games remaining in the regular season.
Muskegon will host the Team USA 18-Under squad next Friday.
The Jacks were outshot in the game 41-25, but made the most of their offensive opportunities.
Jacob Terpstra led things off with a goal at 7:41 of the first period, then Michael Callow followed with his 14th of the season less than a minute later, giving Muskegon a 2-0 lead.
Gavin Cornforth found the net for Dubuque at 19:27 of the first period and the Jacks led 2-1 heading into the second.
Muskegon’s Cody Croal scored at 8:48 of the second period, then Dubuque’s James Reeder answered at 11:23 and the Jacks led 3-2 headed into the third.
Muskegon’s effort to win in regulation ended when Jake Sondreal scored and tied the game at 17:17 of the third period.
The Jacks were not swayed, however, and settled the issue quickly when Rexine dug out the puck from behind the net and fed it to Boisvert in front, and he popped in the winning goal just 29 seconds into OT.
Muskegon goalie Raythan Robbins had another strong performance, stopping 38 of 41 shots on a busy night to allow the Jacks to hold on and win.
“It was a big game,” said Boisvert, who now has 16 goals on the season. “We battled hard, and they came back and we found a way to get it. It’s the best feeling to score a goal, especially in overtime, it’s always fun. We are poised to make the playoffs and we will make it happen.”
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