'Jacks Set to Hit the Road
'JACKS TRACKS: Confronted with a rather daunting assignment the past weekend consisting of three games in three days, the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League equally divided the troika with a 3(1-1-1) mark. Under the direction of head coach Rich Kromm, the Lumberjacks will embark on the rigorous regimen of playing 8 of their next 9-games abroad in a share of the league's premiere pedestal with surging Port Huron. Through the first 23-games of the current campaign, the 'Jacks have compiled a sterling record of 23(15-5-3) totaling 33-points and .717 winning percentage while Port Huron, which has won 5-consecutively, has posted a mark of 23(16-6-1) for its 33-points. Muskegon is 6(4-1-1) against the Icehawks so far this season with the league's co-leaders gaining an 8-points' advantage over a trio of teams currently in third place; Fort Wayne 21(12-8-1)25; Bloomington 21(11-7-3)25; Dayton 24(11-10-3)25. Against those four teams combined, the Lumberjacks have assembled a superlative record of 17(11-4-2). This week, the Lumberjacks face 3-road games with the first two in Dayton and the latter bout at Bloomington against the Prairie Thunder. Muskegon will travel to Dayton to be hosted by the Gems both Wednesday and Friday nights before journeying to Bloomington for a clash with the Illinois entry on Saturday night. The Lumberjacks will not appear at home, again, until the night after the Christmas, Saturday, December 26th when they entertain the two-time reigning league champions, the Fort Wayne Komets. That contest will represent the 'Jacks last home appearance for the calendar year of 2009.
PRIZED PROMOTIONS: When the Lumberjacks return home to the friendly climes and environs of Walker Arena, Saturday, December against Fort Wayne, they will be featuring another Christmas special prize night. Bell's of Whitehall will be giving away a beautiful La-z-boy Recliner and Breakaway Bicycles will be sending a lucky Lumberjacks fan home with a brand new bicycle for Christmas.
FOR FIRST PLACE RECORD: With a 3(1-1-1) record for the past 3-games in 3-nights weekend, the Lumberjacks did garner 3-total points in the standings. They are presently tied for first place distinction with Port Huron with the 'Jacks mark set at 23(15-5-3) for 33-points and gaudy .717 win percentage. When Port Huron blanked them Sunday at Walker Arena, 1-0, it effectively ended the Lumberjacks latest unsullied skein at 5(3-0-2). It was Muskegon's first taste of defeat since in December since November 28th and only its second setback since way back on October 31st, spanning 17-games; 17(12-2-3); the last 20-games; 20(14-3-3). The longest win streak of the season has been an IHL league-wide best 9-in a row with their longest unblemished skein at 10(9-0-1), also a league season's best. The Lumberjacks are the lone team in the IHL thus far this season to not lose 2-games in a row. The December record so far; 5(3-1-1); home: 4(3-1-0); road: 1(0-0-1).
HOME STAY STELLAR: Through the first 23-games of the season, the Lumberjacks have played the most home games in the league at 15. Their record of 15(12-3-0) and sparkling .800 winning percentage ranks a close second in the league behind Port Huron's 11(9-2-0) mark and .818 win percentile. The 'Jacks shutout setback Sunday to the Icehawks, halted their latest home win streak at 3-in succession; 3(3-0-0). Their 12-home victories are 3-more than the rest of the loop. The longest home win streak of the season has been 8-straight; 8(8-0-0) which also is the best in the league thus far this campaign.
ON THE LONG RUNWAY: Having played the fewest road games in the IHL with only 8, Muskegon will see an over-abundance of the long runways at exceedingly low altitude for the rest of this current month and then some. In fact, 8 of its next 9- games will be played on foreign ice including the next 4-games in a row. For the road record thus far, the 'Jacks have earned 8-points in 8-games on a mark of 8(3-2-3). Currently, they own the league's longest unbeaten streak of the season at 6-consecutively; last 6(3-0-3) with the last undoing coming back on October 31st in Fort Wayne. Muskegon has also attained the league's best road win streak, also with Port Huron at 3-consecutively.
STOUT AND STINGY: Offensively, as they have all season long, the Lumberjacks are the #1 team in the league, having connected on 82-GF in 23-games for a GFA of 3.57. Meanwhile, on the back end, the co-league leaders have been vastly enriched, enhanced and advanced, permitting only 59-GA for a GAA of a thrifty and nifty 2.53. Through their first 23-games, the 'Jacks have allotted more than 3-GA only twice, both at home and both against nemesis Dayton.
TOP CLASS COLLECTION: The Lumberjacks continue to feature the top 3 purveyors of points in the IHL. 1- Robin Bouchard 23(19-21-40); 2- Todd Robinson 23(12-27-39); 3- John DiPace 20(10-22-32). In Goals: 1- Bouchard (19); 4- Robinson (12); 5- DiPace (10). In Assists: 1- Robinson (27); 2-DiPace (22); 3- Bouchard (21). In PPG: 1- Bouchard (6); In PP/Assists: 1- Robinson (10); 2- DiPace (9). In GWG: 1- Bouchard (5). In MG: 1- Bouchard (6). In SOG: 1-Bouchard (93); In Plus/Minus: 1- DiPace +26; 2- Robinson +22; 3- Bouchard +21; 4- Matt Krug +13; 5- Adam Welch +11; 6- Tom Galvin +10; J.T. Dahlinger +10; 8- Jason Lawmaster +8. In Rookie Scoring: 4- Krug 23(3-9-12); 8-Matt Robertson 23(4-5-9); 14- J.T. Dahlinger 22(2-5-7). In Defense Scoring: 4- Galvin 18(4-8-12); Krug 23(3-9-12); 6- Russ Smith 22(3-7-10); 11- Adam Welch 15(2-5-7); 14- Jason Lawmaster 29(2-4-6). In Goaltending: 1- Sebastien Centomo GAA: 2.22; 5- Matt Lundin GAA: 2.38; WINS: T-1st Centomo (9); SPCT: 2- Lundin .921; 4- Centomo .918.
ROHLFS ROLLS: Third year pro David Rohlfs has evolved into one of the Lumberjacks more valuable and versatile players in this 50th Anniversary Season. In 3-games the past week, the former U. of Michigan team captain and NHL Edmonton Oilers draft choice seemed to be playing different positions in every game and sometimes even every shift. In those 3-games, he was 3(2-2-4) with +4 rating and 6-SOG. In Friday night's 4-3 OTSO affair at Port Huron, he stoked the second period TBG before engineering an adept and adroit 3-points performance in his team's Saturday night 5-3 victory verdict over Dayton. In that one, the Northville, MI native delivered the key, touch-in-the-clutch TBG/GWG in the third period to sever the 3-3 deadlock in a 3-points night on the town in downtown Muskegon. He earned a brilliant +4 rating that night to equal the IHL's best individual single game plus performance of the season. Rohlfs is the Lumberjacks nomination for Meijer / IHL Player of the Week.
MATT'S MEAGER THEATER: First year goaltender Matt Lundin is truly enjoying is maiden voyage in the pro game with the Lumberjacks. In his lone start of the past weekend, he backstopped his team to an exciting 5-3 victory verdict Saturday night over upstart Dayton. In repulsing 30-saves on 33-shots, the erstwhile U. of Maine and Mercyhurst College star posted his 6th victory of the season and his 4th in 5-decisions on home ice. Still undefeated abroad at 3(2-0-1) and gaining the league's best record at 8(6-1-1) for an .813 win percentile, Lundin is the Lumberjacks nomination for Meijer / IHL Goaltender of the Week.
AND ALL THAT J.T. JAZZ: Rookie right wing J.T. Dahlinger seems to be finding his way around in his transitional year from college hockey to the professional ranks. The past week, the Ferris State product choreographed a pair of assists with a masterful +2 rating Friday night at Port Huron in the 4-3 OTSO outcome. For the week, he was 3(0-2-2) with 5-SOG. Dahlinger's extraordinary +10 rating is 6th best for the 'Jacks and, for that matter, 6th best in the IHL. Dahlinger is the Lumberjacks nomination for Meijer / IHL Rookie of the Week.
THE DAMIAN DEBUT: Nine-year veteran center Damian Surma had his coming-out party the past weekend for his new team. The former NHL Carolina Hurricanes draft pick did not disappoint, indeed. In his actual debut Friday night at Port Huron, he hatched and executed the primary assist on the Robin Bouchard GTG in the third stanza that secured the one precious point standings through the regulation tie. On the following night, in his home unveiling, he stashed the game's second goal on the power play as part of a 'Jacks 3-goal unanswered opening period barrage. For his initial week, Surma is 3(1-1-2).
"LAWMAN" METTLE: Veteran defenseman Jason Lawmaster may have found his star-studded stride the past weekend. The "Lawmaster Locomotive" earned the game's #3 Star in Saturday night's 5-3 triumph over Dayton. The 11-year pro authored 2-assists on the two unanswered third period strikes that shattered the 3-3 stalemate and ultimately catapulted the Lumberjacks and Lawmaster into the victory circle, 5-3. He also earned a strong +2 rating. For his swashbuckling style and prominent profile, he was honored as the game's #3 Star.
ADAM ADROIT: Former Ferris State defenseman Adam Welch has been a pleasant discovery for the Lumberjacks. Since his arrival some 15-games ago. The Ferris State product has been steady and stable on the blue line. In his first 15-games with the 'Jacks, he has authored 7-points on 2-goals, 5-assists with 9-PIM and excellent +11 rating which ranks a robust 5th best in the circuit.
SPECIAL TEAMS TRENDING: The Lumberjacks power play is rated at #5 in the IHL at 20-114 for a proficiency rating of 17.5%. The Lumberjacks 114-advantages rank a close second for most in the league behind Dayton's 115-advantages. Muskegon is 2 for the last 14; 14.3% and 3 for the last 18; 16.7%. As for the penalty-killing cast of characters, Muskegon is ranked 4th in the league showing some steady improvement. The opponents are 22-115 for an 80.9 efficiency rating. The opposition is 1 for the last 13 for an efficiency rating of a scintillating 92.3%.
OWNS MILESTONES: Robin Bouchard (698) is only 2-assists from 700 for his magnificent pro career. "The Gun-Sling's" countdown to becoming the all-time greatest goal-scoring colossus continues. It is presently at 646-goals and counting with the magic number 37-goals to pro hockey immortality and 683-career pro hockey goals. Robin Big Snake (195) is 5-games away from pro career 200. With his third minor penalty in the game on Sunday, Billy Collins surpassed the 600-PIM plateau of his 7-year pro career, ranking him 6th all-time in team annals. Jason Lawmaster's next assist will be the 200th of his career.
FEW FUN FAST FACTS FROM "FIC": The Lumberjacks are the best first period team in the IHL, outscoring the opposition, 29-13 overall and 19-6 on home ice. Muskegon is also the best third period team on home ice, out-goaling the opposition, 20-10. While the 'Jacks are undefeated in OT this year at 3(3-0), it's a reversal of form in the OTSO where they are winless at 3(0-3). Until Port Huron blanked them Sunday, 1-0, the Lumberjacks had a combined perfect record at home on Saturday 4(4-0-0) and Sunday 3(3-0) of 7(7-0-0). David Rohlfs 7-goals thus far this season already equal his entire total of last season with ECHL Stockton at 7.
THE LUMBERJACKS GAME CALENDAR FOR THIS WEEK:
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16TH THE LUMBERJACKS AT DAYTON 7:00 PM
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18TH THE LUMBERJACKS AT DAYTON 7:30 PM
The 'Jacks and the Gems will lock horns for the sixth and seventh times this season with the series balanced on the Muskegon side of the ledger; 5(2-2-1). The 'Jacks are 4(2-2-0) at home and 1(0-0-1) in their lone appearance at the venerable Hara Arena. The past Saturday night, Muskegon doused the Daytonites, 5-3. On November 6th in Ohio, the Muskegon club earned 1-point in the standings in a 3-2 OTSO affair.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19TH THE LUMBERJACKS AT BLOOMINGTON 8:00 PM
Only the third time the two teams have tussled with each other and the first time in Bloomington. Muskegon tops the series, 2-0 on the impetus of 2-consecutive triumphs at Walker Arena; on the home opening night October 17th and a 9-3 emphatic conquest followed by a 5-2 verdict back on November 8th.
LEGENDS, YOUNG GUNS AND LUMBERJACKS: All the Lumberjacks game broadcasts in the 50th Anniversary Season as well as the Monday Night "Jacks Jam" can be heard on exclusive flagship radio station WLAW 92.5 FM, "THE OUTLAW." The Monday night "Jacks Jam" is every Monday night from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, live from FRICANO'S MUSKEGON LAKE. The "Voice" of the Lumberjacks, Terry Ficorelli has all of the Jacks on radio action. The 'Jacks game broadcasts can also be found on the world wide web at www.muskegonlumberjacks.com.
THE LUMBERJACKS DAILY UPDATE REPORTS: Tune in every day even when there is not a game, as Terry Ficorelli brings you up to date with the Lumberjacks Hockey Update, Monday through Friday at 5:57 pm on WEFG-FM 97.5, "THE CHAMP." There are also Lumberjacks daily reports throughout the day in Grand Haven on WGHN Radio, "Sports Radio 1370 ESPN."
LUMBERJACKS TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets for all Lumberjacks home games for the 2009-10 season are on sale at the Walker Arena Box Office, all Ticketmaster Centers or by phone at (231)726-2400; VISA / MASTERCARD accepted. For great group rates and birthday parties with the Lumberjacks, phone the Lumberjacks office at (231) 726-3879 or visit our website at www.muskegonlumberjacks.com. Once again, all this season at every home game, all youth tickets (17-under) are only $5 as presented by Muskegon Community College.
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