Larson’s hat trick and Hutson’s overtime goal sees Lumberjacks win home opener


By Ron Rop
LocalSportsJournal.com

The celebration started on the ice, continued down the hall and ended in the Muskegon Lumberjacks dressing room on Friday night.

And for good reason.

The Lumberjacks burst into the victory column with a relentless 6-5 overtime win over league nemesis Chicago Steel. The game was played at Mercy Health Arena and served as the Lumberjacks’ home opener.

Lumberjacks forward Phil Tresca aims for a loose puck. Photo / Léo Valdez

Muskegon entered the game without a win in his first four games. Two of those losses were in regulation, one in overtime and one in shootout. This put a weight on the shoulders of the players and the technical staff.

Friday’s overtime win came just 44 seconds into the 5-minute extra period that features both teams skating 3 on 3. Quinn Hutson’s wrist shot went high over the shoulder. left of the Steel goalie and the celebration began.

“We lost the face-off but we got the puck and I think (Noah) Ellis passed the puck to me and it came slowly and I hit the top corner,” Hutson said.

During the settlement, the teams fought and quite evenly throughout.

Joey Larson scored a hat trick of three while Quinn Hutson scored two, including the game winner early in overtime.

“Larson was pretty special tonight, he and Hutson were able to put some pucks in the net,” Jacks coach Mike Hamilton said. “From a fan’s perspective it was an entertaining game to watch, but probably not so much fun to train, but it was great to see in the third period our will to win.

However, giving up five goals did not suit Hamilton very well.

Muskegon’s number 10 Jacob Guevin heads for Chicago’s goal for Muskegon. Photo / Léo Valdez

“We need to clean up our details in our area,” Hamilton said. “There’s no excuse for us leaving the best guy in the league (Adam Fantilli) wide open in goal. This guy is a heckuva hockey player and you have to recognize when he’s on the ice. Defensively, we certainly have some mistakes to correct.

The first period didn’t start so well as the Steel only scored 48 seconds into the game on their first shot on goal. Right winger Jackson Blake scored his fifth goal of the season.

Muskegon reacted quickly, however, when Larson redirected a pass through captain Jack Williams’ cross just 45 seconds after Chicago opened the scoring.

The Lumberjacks took a 2-1 lead after a brief scramble in goal from Steel and their great goaltender Gibson Homer. The puck went to Jacks defenseman Jacob Napier and his cross pass saw Jacob Guevin score his first goal of the season.

Before the end of the period, the Steel tied the score on a goal from Jack Harvey.

Chicago got a power play early in the second period, but Lumberjack’s penalty killers were up to the task. However, 44 seconds after the penalty expired, Zam Plante gave the visitors a 3-2 lead.

That slim margin didn’t last long – exactly 45 seconds – because Hutson’s high wrist shot from the left face-off circle found the net behind Homer. That goal came on the power play.

Chicago scored its own power-play goal 4 minutes later to take another one-goal margin, this time at 4-3. This is how the second period ended.

The Steel came back quickly in the third period and grabbed the only two-goal margin of the game. Harvey scored his second of the evening. The goal came 27 seconds into the start of the third period and also marked the end of the night for Lumberjack starting goalie Jan Skorpik.

In passed Carson Limesand, a 19-year-old rookie goaltender, who finished the game and claimed his first USHL victory.

Larson brought the Jacks down to 5-4 with a left side wrist shot. The goal, Larson’s second of the night, meant the Steel’s two-goal lead lasted just 30 seconds.

Larson completed the hat trick with a sharp angle shot from the right corner that glanced at Homer and entered.

“I saw the goalie was out of his angle and I just threw him on goal,” said Larson, who now has four goals this season. “It’s good to have finally won. The hard work paid off, we worked hard, so it’s good to finally have a win.

When Chicago received a 4-minute high stick penalty, the Lumberjacks had ample opportunity to score a goal in regulation, but the Steel killed him and the dying seconds of the third period were cut short.

Then comes the overtime and the heroism of Hutson who decides a winner.

Muskegon had a 52-27 advantage in shots in the contest.

The teams will face off again at 7:10 p.m. Saturday night at the Mercy Health Arena.

Check out the photos taken by Leo Valdez.


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