Griffins Pickard Blanks Moose 1-0|
Returns of Veleno, Seider and Rasmussen bolster lineup...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 10th, 2020
The Grand Rapids Griffins welcomed the visiting Manitoba Moose by handing them a 1-0 defeat in a game that featured many subplots. The first of which was the return of Detroit 1st round draft picks Moritz Seider, Joe Veleno and Michael Rasmussen which was expected to boost a depleted lineup. The second and perhaps larger story involved the goaltending matchup as former Red Wing Eric Comrie made the start for Manitoba, his first visit since being claimed on waivers last month. He was facing Calvin Pickard who was also in Detroit before losing his spot in the ongoing goalie shuffle and being reassigned to the AHL. The stakes were high, and Pickard took advantage of Chris Terry's first goal since mid-December to hold on for 1-0 win.
Right from the opening faceoff, the Griffins took control of the game, carrying the play and time of puck possession. Joe Veleno found a seam and walked in on Comrie for a great chance that almost handcuffed him. Grand Rapids with a 3-on-1 but Shine couldn't thread the pass across. Dylan McIlrath with a great play to break up a 2-on-1 with his stick and then recovering to push the puck up ice for a rush. Griffins are really pressuring the net, shot differential is 10-2 just past the hallway mark of the period. The Griffins got on the board midway through the period on a scrambly play in front and Terry whacked at the puck until it went in. Veleno broke the puck out on a 2-on-1 with Pearson and almost made it 2-0 but somehow Comrie made the stop. Shots on Goal: GR 17 - Man 5.
The second period was more of the same with the Griffins outplaying Manitoba by a large margin for most of the period, with the only exception being a brief period with the Moose on the man-advantage. Moritz Seider with a big hit that knocked a Moose player flying, then he had to get his stick up to protect himself from a couple of Manitoba players who were unhappy with the hit. Gustav Lindstrom to the box late in the period for interference and the Griffins having some troubles getting the puck out to make a line change. Turner Elson with a great shorthanded chance, spun his way into the circle and put a shot on Comrie, then reached in and pulled the puck off his pad for another shot that was just stopped. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Man 8.
The Griffins again carrying play early as they kept pressure in the Moose zone for two whole shifts, as the Griffins rotated players in and kept cycling the puck. Michael Rasmussen roughed up a bit in front of the Manitoba bench. Veleno took away a sure goal by reaching behind him as he skated by the net and poking a shot away that was sliding past Pickard. GR with their first powerplay of the game with just over five minutes left, but a couple of poor decisions by Dennis Cholowski ate time off the clock and they were unable to muster any good chances with the time they had left. Comrie to the bench for an extra attacker with two minutes and change left on the clock. Matt Puempel snagged the puck for a shot at the empty net, but a Moose defender picked it off. Couple of huge saves by Pickard 6-on-5 with traffic in front. Puempel with another chance at the empty net but missed and icing was called. Manitoba time out to try and regroup for another attack. Battle behind Pickard and the net was lifted allowing the puck to slide in from the back, it was called no goal. Big faceoff in the Grand Rapids end to the right of Pickard with 2.3 seconds left. The puck squirted loose and right to a Moose shooter in the left circle. Pickard slid across in the butterfly and took away a blistering shot for the win. His triumphant stick pump showed how much this one meant to him as he was mobbed by his teammates to celebrate a 1-0 win at home. Shots on Goal: GR 3 - Man 10. For the game: GR 28 - Man 23.
#73 Puempel - #90 Veleno - #37 Svechnikov
#15 Elson - #27 Rasmussen - #25 Terry
#14 Lukosevicius - #22 Pearson - #65 Shine
#55 Matt Ford - #23 Turgeon - #32 Spezia
#2 Hicketts - #53 Seider
#36 Wood - #5 Lindstrom
#44 Cholowski - #52 McIlrath
Starter: #31 Pickard
Backup: #34 Poulin
#17 Hirose - Injured
#26 Tangradi - Injured
#73 Puempel - #90 Veleno - #27 Rasmussen
#44 Cholowski - #25 Terry
#15 Elson - #23 Turgeon - #37 Svechnikov
#2 Hicketts - #53 Seider
#23 Turgeon - #15 Elson
#2 Hicketts - #53 Seider
#90 Veleno - #27 Rasmussen
#36 Wood - #52 McIlrath
It is amazing the difference adding a player - or a couple of players can make as it pushes players down the lineup and changes the players they are matching up against. While this team is still missing some firepower, the defensive effort and level of play was night and day different form the last few weeks. Moritz Seider was playing with a lot of confidence and was a difference maker on the backend, transporting the puck and making plays because of his mobility. The energetic legs of Joe Veleno also carried play at times and brought energy and pace that had been missing. Even the physical play of Rasmussen was a key as Manitoba seemed to have a real problem getting around his big body.
Dominik Shine showed again what an underrated player he is, in the first period he had several quality chances that were generated by his work ethic and speed on the forecheck. He may have been the most noticeable play in the first 20 minutes and ended up with five shots on goal, though he probably had twice that many good chances.
Calvin Pickard didn't have to make a lot of stop but several that he did were point blank chances or redirections, and he battled hard all night for his shutout. There were a few times he scared us by traveling outside the crease to play the puck, but his will to win is apparent.