Griffins Potent Powerplay Blasts Belleville 5-2|
Saarijarvi records first AHL multipoint game...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 12th, 2019
The lowly Griffins powerplay, ranked last in the AHL, connected for four goals including three in a 2:35 to lift the Griffins over the visiting Bellville Senators, leapfrogging the Chicago Wolves into first place in the Division. Vili Saarijarvi had his first career multiple point night in the AHL notching a goal (the game-winner) and two assists, while Carter Camper rang up four assists on the powerplay. Turner Elson (12), Wade Megan (5), Matt Puempel (16) and Axel Holmstrom (10) also scored in the victory. Netminder Harri Sateri stopped 41 shots including 25 in the third period to record his 12th win of the season.
Belleville doing a good job of clogging up the middle, no real offensive flow to the game. Shots on goal were only 3-0 GR midway through the period. Libor Sulak carried the puck in and took it to the net, putting a shot on Gustavsson that he bobbled, but kept out. A Griffins player was boarded and stayed down, then a scrum touched off in the corner with Givani Smith in the middle of it. Filip Zadina and Chris Terry were taking turns firing the puck on net from opposite circles during the ensuing Griffins powerplay. Turner Elson won a footrace to a loose puck in the Senators zone and wired a knuckleball wrister into the top corner that surprised Gustavsson to give the Griffins the lead. In the last minute of the period, Griffins enjoying another powerplay, Carter Camper wound up a shot from the circle that Megan redirected in front to push the lead to 2-0. Klimchuk knocked Smith down and then a scrum broke out. They both ended up in the box, but Smith was jobbed on the call. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Bel 5.
The Senators started their comeback just shy of the six-minute mark, when Brown walked into the circle and snapped a shot past Sateri, low glove-side. They tied the score two and a half minutes later, Puempel very laissez-faire watched a pass go by him and waived his stick at it as Klimchuk walked by him for a quality scoring chance form the circle, cleanly beating Sateri. With Brown in the box for high-sticking, the Griffins got their first of three consecutive powerplays in the middle period. Vili Saarijarvi with a big wrister from the point beat Gustavsson high, just 22-seconds into the penalty to restore the GR lead to one. A minute later, McCormick took a hooking call and the Griffins man-advantage unit set up again. Axel Holmstrom with a steal and a nice play in the corner and Carter Camper hit Saarijarvi for another big shot. The flashy Finn instead found Puempel at the top of the circle for a quick slapshot that bulged the twine behind Gustavsson. McCormick back to the box again, and 20 seconds later Camper got loose and put a shot on net that was tipped in front by Holmstrom for three powerplay goals in a 2:35 span and a 5-2 lead. Smith with a nice chance in front almost extended the lead, but Gustavsson made the stop. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Bel 14.
The penalty tide turned in Belleville's favor as the Griffins were down three straight times. Hamilton pinched and got caught leading to a 2-on-1. Sateri stopped the first shot, then another as the rebound was batted right back at him. Hamilton got back but collided with Sateri and carried him out of the net. He dove back to make a save and covered until Sateri could get back. Sateri was unable to recover his stick leading to some nail-biting as his team was blocking shots in front of him trying to keep the puck away. The Griffins were assessed a bench minor penalty because a spectator threw a chuck-a-puck on the ice during play. Gustavsson to the bench with just under five minutes remaining. Great clear by Smith as the Griffins got penned into their own end 6-on-4. Hicketts got roughed up twice in a row with no call and finally a couple of skirmishes broke out. Terry came to Hicketts' aid and hit Sieloff with a major league elbow. Shots on goal: GR 5 - Bel 24. For the game: GR 26 - Bel 43.
#15 Elson - #19 Camper - #25 Terry
#73 Puempel - #23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#55 Ford - #22 Megan - #11 Zadina
#54 Smith - #10 Holmstrom - #65 Shine
#18 Lashoff - #2 Hicketts
#4 Sulak - #14 Hamilton
#27 Chelios - #9 Saarijarvi
Starter: #29 Sateri
Backup: #42 Rybar
#52 McIlrath - veteran
#55 Ford - #15 Elson - #11 Zadina
#25 Terry- #2 Hicketts
#10 Holmstrom - #19 Camper - #22 Megan
#73 Puempel - #9 Saarijarvi
#23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#18 Lashoff - #2 Hicketts
#15 Elson - #22 Megan/#55 Ford
#4 Sulak - #27 Chelios
The second powerplay unit was money tonight, as they racked up 4 goals and 12 points in pretty short order. While several other members enjoyed multi-point nights, Holmstrom was the unsung hero, making some great plays away from the puck to allow other things to happen.
After a big game yesterday, Zadina was pretty quiet tonight. Part of it may have been a change of linemates with Megan swapping for Holmstrom, and Belleville was definitely covering him much more, but he was not very noticeable with no shots on goal, and really I don't recall him even having the puck in the offensive zone.
More hard work from Givani Smith in the corners and on the forecheck, he remains snakebit with some awful puck luck, can't believe he is still sitting on one goal.