Despite holding a 2-0 advantage late in the second period, the Green Bay Gamblers were eventually defeated by the Muskegon Lumberjacks (30-18-4) by a 3-2 overtime shootout mark Friday evening at the Resch Center. With the loss, the Gamblers fell to 16-29-6 (39 PTS) with eight games remaining in their 2014-15 United States Hockey League regular-season schedule.
Nick Poehling opened up Green Bay’s strong first period with his first career USHL goal, a power-play strike past the left-handed glove of Lumberjacks goaltender Eric Schierhorn just two minutes into regulation. Nick’s brother, Jack, was credited with his first career assist on the play, while first-year forward Sam Saliba also tabbed a helper on the man-advantage score.
Saliba’s night wasn’t over. After a first period that saw the Gamblers out-shoot Muskegon 13-11, Green Bay tallied its second goal of the evening less than one minute into the second frame thanks to Saliba’s fourteenth goal of the season, which was assisted by Luke Bafia. Saliba, a Lake Forest, Ill., native, now has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his 10 most recent games.
At the 15:26 mark in the second period, Muskegon made its move. Matej Paulovic converted on the Lumberjacks’ first power-play of the evening, which narrowed Green Bay’s lead to 2-1 after two full frames. Despite a five-minute man advantage in the third, the Gamblers were unable to extend their lead. Then, with 1.4 seconds remaining, Muskegon knotted things up at 2-2.
Neither team managed to score in the game’s five minute 4-on-4 period, which sent the game to a three-man overtime shootout period. Juraj Mily converted Muskegon’s first attempt. Sam Miletic watched his shot sail wide right of the net. Griffen Molino pulled the Lumberjacks up 2-0 on his team’s third shot. Derek Barach’s miss sealed Muskegon’s late comeback effort.
Despite the outcome, Green Bay goaltender Jason Pawloski performed admirably in his twenty-ninth start of the season on Friday. Overall, he warded off 42 of 44 (.955%) shots on goal against him, an effort that raised his season save percentage to .904%. Muskegon, arguably the best man-advantage unit (.234 season PP%) in the league, went 1-for-3 in power plays against Pawloski.
With the loss behind them, the Gamblers will regroup and prepare for Saturday evening’s weekend finale against the Lumberjacks, which is scheduled for Saturday evening at 7:05 p.m. CT from the Resch Center. Saturday evening will be Bud Night at the arena and will feature the ‘Weiner Dog Races’ after the second period. Follow us on Twitter for updates during Saturday’s game.