November Record: 6-3-1 (4-0-0 home, 2-3-1 away)
After an October campaign that saw Green Bay post a 3-2-1 record over six competitive contests, the Gamblers returned home to the Resch Center Nov. 1 for a weekend homestand against the Des Moines Buccaneers hoping to start the month of November with quality hockey — despite head coach Derek Lalonde away coaching the World Junior A team in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
And that’s exactly what they accomplished.
Behind a 29-save performance from goaltender Jared Rutledge and two goals from forward Kevin Irwin, the Gamblers took their first game of the new month with a 3-0 Nov. 1 victory over Des Moines. They followed suit with another win over the Buccaneers the next day, this time by a 3-1 mark, due in large part to Rutlege’s 21 saves on 22 attempts.
“He’s an experienced goalie playing very well right now,” then interim head coach Pat Mikesch said after the victory. “Especially with Cam Hackett hurt, he knows we need him to be good and he did a great job. He’s as mature kid.”
Hitting the road for the first time in nearly three weeks, Green Bay’s three-game win streak came to a halt with a 6-3 loss in Chicago Nov. 8. Goals from Drew Best, Gavin Stoick and Christian Wolanin weren’t enough to overcome the Steel on the road, who saw John Ernsting notch three goals of his own in the contest.
Green Bay rebounded with a victory back on its home ice against Waterloo on throwback night at the Brown County Arena, overcoming a 2-1 deficit midway through the second period en route a 4-3 victory. Ryan Lough tallied two scores in the game, marking the first time the first-year Gambler accomplished such a feat in his USHL career.
“It feels pretty good, and it feels even better to get the win,” Lough said after the win. “It’s always nice when you can contribute.”
With Matt Weis, Nick Schmaltz, Jordan Gross and Lalonde back with the team, the Gamblers’ lone rough patch of the month ensued the following roadtrip. Outscored 12-5 by Team USA in Ann Arbor, Michigan Nov. 15-16, Green Bay went 0-for-2 against the conference’s premier squad.
But just as they’ve done all year, the Gamblers returned home to play quality hockey.
Pitted against their conference rival Muskegon Nov. 27, Green Bay kept its undefeated home record in regulation tact with a 4-1 victory over the Lumberjacks, thanks to late goals from Evan Tironese, Ryan Siroky and Sebastian Weberg.
“It’s a little early to start talking about playoff positioning, but you can see how the league is stacking up,” Lalonde said following the victory. “There’s going to be seven really good teams battling for four spots, so you have to win your division games, especially at home, and this was a huge win for us.”
Lalonde’s crew concluded the month with two road victories over Muskegon Nov. 29-30, outscoring the Lumberjacks 13-5 over both meetings. Four of those goals came off the stick of Lough, whose current 17 points through 20 games is the second-highest on the roster behind Schmaltz (20).
The Gamblers will begin the month of December with a road matchup against Indiana tonight at the Pan Am Arena, and will return home Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7:05 p.m. CT against Chicago.