BLOOMINGTON - Entering overtime on a power play was a gift the Bloomington PrairieThunder didn't open Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum. | Photo gallery
Granted a reprieve from its generosity, Muskegon handed Bloomington a package it did not want as a Chad Woollard goal at 4:08 of overtime presented the Lumberjacks with a 3-2 International Hockey League victory before a crowd of 2,929.
"You have a four on three (of 1:48) in overtime and to see us not even get in their zone and turn over pucks, that tells me guys just stopped competing, stopped working," Thunder coach Jarrod Skalde said. "You don't quit right at the end when you have your best opportunity."
Woollard beat Bloomington goalkeeper Ryan Ludzik on assists from Shaun Fisher and Adam Bartholomay as Muskegon (39-20-7, 85 points) moved within two points of second-place Port Huron.
The Thunder (27-32-6, 60 points) dropped its fifth straight game and saw a five-game winning streak over the Lumberjacks snapped.
"Six straight games they got a point against us. Every time we play them it seems like it's going to be close," said Muskegon coach Bruce Ramsay. "It's a huge two points for us."
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The Lumberjacks were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the third period. But Bloomington could not cash in the opportunity in overtime.
"I think we rushed things a little bit too much on the power play in overtime," Thunder defenseman Jason Lepine said. "Then they got a couple chances off that. They got the momentum in overtime and put one in on us."
Ludzik stopped 35 of 38 Muskegon shots.
"Ludzy played great. He kept us in it," said Skalde. "It's unfortunate he had guys in front of him who didn't want to compete late in the game."
Lepine opened the scoring at 15:51 of the first period with a slapshot from just inside the blue line on assists from Jan Jas and Jon Booras.
"I knew if I kept it low it would be hard for him to see the puck," Lepine said of Muskegon goaltender Clayton Pool. "It was one of those things where it got in the bottom corner."
The Lumberjacks scored twice in the final minute of the opening period. A Fisher goal at 19:03 was followed by a Robin Bouchard tally at 19:57. Bouchard pushed the puck past Ludzik while falling back and with Bloomington's Russell Smith draped over him.
"A minute to go in the period, that's when you've got to bear down. You can't be losing your guys in the defensive zone," said Skalde. "In those crucial moments it seems we have certain guys who don't think they're crucial moments."
Bloomington's Corey Rutt punched in a rebound for the tying goal at 2-2 on assists from Brent Clarke and Adam Tomkow at 12:18 of the second period.
Muskegon 2 0 0 1 - 3
Bloomington 1 1 0 0 - 2
First period - Bloomington, Lepine (Jas, Booras), 15:51, pp; Muskegon, Fisher (Robinson, DiPace), 19:03; Muskegon, Bouchard (Robinson), 19:57
Second period - Bloomington, Rutt (Clarke, Tomkow), 12:18.
Third period - No scoring.
Overtime - Muskegon, Woollard (Fisher, Bartholomay), 4:08
Penalties-minutes - Muskegon 7-14, Bloomington 9-18.
Goalies - Muskegon-Pool (26 shots, 24 saves, 64;08; Bloomington-Ludzik (38 shots, 35 saves, 64:08).
Power play opportunities - Muskegon 0 of 7; Bloomington 1 of 5.
Attendance - 2,929.
Referee - Greene; Linesmen - Cohen, Bethmann.