Eagle goalie Steve Guenette was happier Wednesday after a night to sleep on the 4-3 loss in Game 1 of the Turner Cup championship Tuesday. Immediately after the game, he'd been upset about losing because he thought his old teammates were ready to be had in that game, and that's something that rarely happens to Muskegon at home.
The Lumberjacks have won 12 straight at home and are 28-0-2 in Walker Arena since Jan. 4. Their last regulation-time loss at home was 4-2 to Fort Wayne on Dec. 30.The Eagles' next chance at them is here on Friday night, 5:30 p.m. MDT.
Coach Blair MacDonald used veteran goalie Frank Pietrangelo in Game 1, but rookie Bruce Racine has a phenomenal home record of 24 straight wins. He hasn't lost in the Walker building since Nov. 18, 5-4 in a shootout to Milwaukee. His only regulation-time loss at home was 5-4 to Kalamazoo on Nov. 4.
Racine is the top playoff goalie in the league statistically with a 4-0 record and 2.50 goals-against average.
MacDonald acknowledged that Pietrangelo's seasoning with Pittsburgh this season and his experience were reasons to start him over Racine in Game 1.
Pietrangelo was the goalie who lost the final game of the 1987 Turner Cup championships at home to the Eagles.
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Add goalies: Jeff Cooper, Pietrangelo's partner in 1987, is still with Muskegon but is the No. 3 man and sits in the stands.
There's so little room on the benches in Walker Arena that the Eagles' backup goaltender - Wayne Cowley in Game 1 - can't sit with the team; he sits near the goal judge at the west end of the rink.
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The main editorial page of the Muskegon Chronicle used "heroic" to describe Scott Gruhl's game-winning goal of Tuesday night and called the Lumberjack team "mighty," "super" and "great" in a four-paragraph editorial Wednesday.
The editorial also called for fans to pack the Walker Arena Friday night. Only 2,032 were on hand for Game 1. "The way the 'Jacks have been playing," said the Chronicle editorial, "that Friday game could well be the last home game of the season . . ." That, of course, would mean Muskegon would have to dispose of the Eagles in five games or less in a best-of-seven series because, after Games 1 and 2 in Muskegon, Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) are in Salt Lake. If Games 6 and 7 are needed, they'll be in Muskegon.
Some reasons Muskegon's playoff attendance has been low: No home weekend dates until Friday, fans are getting blase after having winning teams four years in a row, ticket prices were raised $2 for playoffs and fans aren't used to coming on weekdays - the 'Jacks had 36 weekend dates out of a 41-game home regular-season schedule.
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Eagle trainer Brian Patafie says Game 1 referee Paul Devorski asked to borrow some T-shirts to wear under his striped shirt on Tuesday.
Patafie said it was a good thing Devorski didn't have to break up any fights or do anything where his outer shirt might have been pulled up or torn because then Muskegon fans would have seen him wearing a Golden Eagle T-shirt underneath.