The Muskegon Lumberjacks picked a good time to start firing on all cylinders.
After a tough 0-4 start, the Lumberjacks roared back with back-to-back wins this past weekend to gain momentum heading into a big weekend against a couple of their toughest Eastern Conference foes.
Muskegon (2-4) travels to defending Eastern Conference champ Chicago Friday before returning home Saturday to take on Green Bay.
The Steel, who ousted the Lumberjacks from the Clark Cup playoffs last year, have played strong so far this year on their way to a 5-1 record.
The Gamblers are 3-3, but gave Chicago its only loss of the season.
This will be the second straight rare weekend where Muskegon will play on the road Friday night and return home for a Saturday night home tilt.
“We know we have a tough weekend ahead of us,” Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton said. “Chicago is a very tough team and Green Bay has beaten them, so it’s going to be a tough couple of games for sure.
“It’s kind of a goofy schedule. After playing at Chicago we’ll get back home at three in the morning. But it is what it is, and we’ll just have to deal with it.”
Hamilton added his team will also have to fight through a little bout with the injury bug, but that the blue line is getting stronger with the debut of Iivari Rasanen last weekend and the pending return of defenseman David Gucciardi from suspension.
The Steel and Gamblers play two different styles, so it will challenge Muskegon’s ability to adapt.
The Gamblers will play a more disciplined, defensive brand of hockey but will also play a very physical game.
“We’ll have to play a good puck possession game,” Hamilton said. “We’ll need to have clean entries and break through their system to get shots on goal. The amount of shots we’ve gotten has been key to our wins and our losses so far this season.”
Hamilton is encouraged that Muskegon’s received really good goaltending two weekends in a row.
Friday’s game at Chicago will be at 8:05 p.m. at the Fox Valley Ice Arena.
“Things are progressing well, we’re getting better every week and we’ll try to keep that going this weekend,” Hamilton said.
The Lumberjacks will help Muskegon celebrate 150 years Saturday with their 7:05 p.m. puck drop at L.C. Walker Arena. They will wear special jerseys which will be auctioned off after the game.