Muskegon, MI—The Muskegon Lumberjacks scored early in the first, second and third periods and showed why they lead the Eastern Conference as they downed the Sioux Falls Stampede 5-3 Saturday night at L.C. Walker Arena. Max Crozier, Brian Chambers and Blake Bride all scored for the Herd while Jaxson Stauber stopped 28 of 33 shots in goal. The loss is the Herd’s second straight and marks the first time since the end of November that Sioux Falls has dropped back-to-back games. The Stampede stand at 26-12-4 on the year and remain in third place in the Western Conference. The Herd get a chance for revenge Sunday afternoon in a rematch against the Lumberjacks in Muskegon.
It was a long and somewhat crazy first period between two teams that had not seen each other all season. Nolan Sullivan got the Lumberjacks on the board just 3:41 into the game when he wristed a shot from the right circle past Jaxson Stauber for a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later Artem Ivanyuzhenkov was given a five-minute penalty and game misconduct for elbowing, putting Muskegon on the advantage. Max Ellis would convert on the power play at 7:37 when he wristed a shot past the stick side of Stauber.
Just as it appeared the ice was completely tilting, the Stampede settled things down and got a goal at 11:51 on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play. Andre Lee brought the puck into the offensive zone down the right-wing walls and sent the pass across ice to Jami Krannila who quickly sent a pass in front of the net to Max Crozier who tallied his eighth goal of the season. It appeared the Herd had tied the game a few minutes later when Brian Chambers deflected a shot into the net, but after review the goal was disallowed due to it going off Chambers skate and the Herd trailed 2-1 after one period.
Things did not get off to a good start for Sioux Falls in the second when Nash Nienhuis found the back of the net when his shot from the far-right corner snuck past Stauber. Sioux Falls spent most of the ten minutes of the period controlling play in the Muskegon zone, but the Lumberjacks defense was too tough and limited the Stampede’s scoring chances. As the period went on Muskegon started to turn the momentum in their favor and they were rewarded at 18:23. Alex Yakovenko stole a pass just outside the left circle and sent a quick pass through the slot to Egor Afanasyev who one-timed it past the glove of Stauber for a 4-1 advantage. Muskegon outshot the Herd 13-6 in the period.
The Herd’s hopes of a comeback took a hit early in the third when the Lumberjacks scored just 1:44 into the frame to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Sioux Falls didn’t fold, however and put pressure on the Lumberjacks for the remainder of the period. The Herd made it 5-2 at 6:28 when Ryan Sullivan shot went off the back wall and in front of the net where Brian Chambers hammered it home for his 14th of the season. Sioux Falls pulled within two goals at 18:19 when Tony Follmer’s shot was deflected into the net by Blake Bride, but that was a close as the Herd would get as the game finished 5-3.
Sioux Falls outshot Muskegon 17-8 in the period, but were outshot 33-32 on the night. Muskegon finished 1-for-4 on the power play while the Herd went 0-for-4.
The Stampede will go for the weekend split when they face Muskegon again on Sunday at 2:15 PM. Fans can catch all the action on KELO News Talk 1320-AM, 105.1-FM, 107.9-FM and KELO.com starting at 1:50 PM.