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Matheson Iacopelli Nets 55th USHL Goal

MUSKEGON, Michigan (December 27th) – The Muskegon Lumberjacks returned from Christmas break looking to end their season-long six-game homestand with two more points in the standings.  In an up-and-down contest that saw the goaltending from both sides dominate the majority of the game, the visiting Youngstown Phantoms held on to a slim one goal lead for almost two periods until the Lumberjacks found the equalizer halfway through the third.  Ultimately, a shootout decided the fate of the night with the Phantoms finding a way in extra rounds to earn the extra point and come away with a 2-1 victory tonight at the L.C. Walker Arena.

A clean first period saw only one penalty assessed to Matheson Iacopelli of the Lumberjacks with 2:07 to go for slashing, and the Phantoms (14-7-5, 33 points) took advantage of their power play opportunity just 13 seconds later as Kiefer Sherwood rifled a shot from the left faceoff circle off the crossbar and into the back of the net for his 12th of the season to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.  Max Letunov and Josh Melnick assisted on the man advantage tally.

Youngstown slightly outshot Muskegon during the first 20 minutes of regulation by a 13-11 margin.

The Phantoms continued to hold on to their one goal lead through the entire second period with both teams getting a power play opportunity during the middle frame but unable to capitalize on their respective chance.  Muskegon outshot Youngstown in the second by a 13-11 spread that led to the shots evening up at 24-24 going into the third.

Just past the midway point of the final stanza, the Lumberjacks (18-7-2, 38 points) found the tying goal in a big way at the 10:34 mark as Robbie DeMontis won an offensive zone faceoff to the right of Colin DeAugustine (8-5-0) in which the puck slid back to Iacopelli just outside the rim of the circle, and the Chicago Blackhawks prospect ripped his 14th goal top shelf over DeAugustine’s glove to tie the game at 1-1.

Muskegon used that goal to their advantage outshooting Youngstown 17-10 during the third and overtime sessions combined and controlling the pace of play but could not bury the game-winner leading to a shootout frame.  The Lumberjacks ended up outshooting the Phantoms for the night, 41-34.

Following a scoreless first round, Youngstown received a goal from former Lumberjack Ryan Lomberg that was immediately countered by Jack Rowe to send the skills competition into the third round tied at 1-1.  The final round of the shootout saw no scoring leading to sudden death rounds.  After an empty fourth round, the Phantoms found the go-ahead marker from Taylor Best beating Eric Schierhorn (13-3-2) on the blocker side.  The next shooter for Muskegon was Iacopelli, but his attempt was stopped by DeAugustine with the glove hand giving the Phantoms a 2-1 shootout win in five rounds.

Colin DeAugustine snatches the road victory with 40 saves plus stopping four of five shooters in the shootout.  On the flip side, Eric Schierhorn takes the overtime loss following a 33-save performance and making three saves during the skills competition.  With his goal, Matheson Iacopelli is now tied with Tommy Marchin for the team lead in goals scored at 14.  Muskegon falls to 2-1-1 against Youngstown this season with two regular season meetings left between the two Eastern Conference rivals.  All-time, the Lumberjacks are 18-12-6 versus the Phantoms including an 11-6-2 mark at home.

The Lumberjacks hit the road for the first time in exactly a month to Madison, Wisconsin for an 8:00 pm tilt against the expansion Madison Capitols on Monday, December 29th.

To conclude the 2014 calendar year, Muskegon returns home for “New Year’s Eve Bash with the Jacks” on Wednesday, December 31st against the Chicago Steel at 5:15 pm.  Fans can take advantage of special Happy Hour concessions specials all game long and enjoy a postgame skate with the entire Lumberjacks team.  Doors for the game open at 4:15 pm.

To purchase tickets to next Wednesday’s game and take advantage of our discounted advance game day prices, fans can stop by the L.C. Walker Arena Box Office during the normal business hours of 10:00 am – 6:00 pm on Monday or Tuesday or call (231) 724-5225.

The Lumberjacks are on the radio waves as Nash Icon 92.5 FM is the team’s flagship provider for the 2014-15 season.  Tune in as the “Voice of the Lumberjacks” Bryan Fongers delivers the call beginning 15 minutes prior to the opening puck drop.  All games can also be listened and watched live online at www.fasthockey.com.

The Muskegon Lumberjacks are celebrating their Fifth Anniversary Season as proud members of the United States Hockey League, the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league and the leading producer of NCAA players and National Hockey League draft picks in the United States.  The Lumberjacks’ organization prides itself on developing not just premier hockey talent, but also exceptional young men outside the arena of sports.  For more information, visit www.muskegonlumberjacks.com.  Muskegon Lumberjacks Hockey – A Cut Above!

By Bryan Fongers

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