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Thunderbirds Rally Past Griffins in Overtime 3-2
Griffins squander early 2-0 lead...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 21st, 2023

Grand Rapids got off to a hot start goals from Albert Johansson (2) and Jakub Vrana (2), his second in two games. But they were not able to match the play of the visiting Thunderbirds, who outskated, outhit and outscored them for most of the game. Springfield scored three unanswered goals including the winner in overtime, taking advantage of a slow line change by Vrana. Alex Nedeljkovic absorbed the loss, making 29 saves to bring his record to 4-2-2.

First Period
Cross Hanas had a nice scoring chance in the first minute and looks to be firing on all cylinders. Grand Rapids got on the board when Albert Johansson fired a rocket form the blue line with Alex Chiasson in front screening. The puck eluded Hofer for a 1-0 lead. Jakub Vrana with speed flew into the Springfield zone, cut into the circle and wired a shot in over Hofer's shoulder to push the score to 2-0. Newcomer Jasper Weatherby picked up his first point as a Griffin with an assist on the goal. Johansson took a hard hit from behind along the board from Martin Frk and was down on the ice for a while before heading to the room. Frk to the box for boarding, setting up GR's first powerplay of the game. Vrana picked up an interference call 8 seconds later to negate the man advantage. Shots on goal: GR 12 - Spr 12.

Second Period
Grand Rapids on the powerplay early in the second and Springfield has the first scoring chance, a shorthanded try from Highmore. A shot hit Hofer and lay in the crease behind him, several Griffins jammed at it, but it was eventually covered up before it could be pushed over the line. The Griffins had another good chance when a long point shot found its way through with Weatherby in front, but he couldn't connect. Stellar defensive play by Eemil Viro to take away the side of the net with a loose puck and two Thunderbirds bearing down. Hayhurst beat the defense and drove the net, then sent a cross ice feed to Callin who banged home a bad angle shot between Ned and the post. Great chance by Vrana with speed as he went right up the gut and fired it just wide. Vrana really flying tonight, very engaged and dangerous. The Thunderbirds have really stepped up their play the second half of the period and are taking it to the Griffins. Jared McIsaac with a big hit, then he took a big hit and is down on the ice. He needed help up and left the game. Shots on goal: GR 9 - Spr 11.

Third Period
Thunderbirds Hayhurst in the box for high-sticking, and the Griffins look very disorganized on their powerplay. Matt Kessel scored a shorthanded goal on a train wreck of a play that you could watch coming all the way down the ice to knot the game at 2. Joel L'Esperance went cross crease to Czarnik with a wide-open net, back door, and he fanned on it. Vrana with a. couple of great chances as the Griffins put a flurry of shots on Hofer, who lost his stick behind the net. L'Esperance with a steal and he danced in on net ripping a shot off Hofer. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Spr 6.

The overtime was all Springfield and they ended it just shy of a minute and a half in. Vrana was slow getting to the bench on a change and the Thunderbirds took advantage. They had a two-on-one and Alexandrov beat Nedeljkovic low, stick side for the win. Shots on goal: GR 0 - Spr 2. For the Game: GR 31 - Spr 32.

Starting Lines:
#15 Vrana - #26 Jasper Weatherby - #39 Chiasson
#71 Hanas - #56 O'Regan - #96 Andreasson
#17 Hirose - #27 Czarnik - #11 L'Esperance
#32 Spezia - #13 Worrad - #65 Shine

#33 Johansson - #20 Kampfer
#5 Viro - #40 Newpower
#49 barton - #3 McIsaac

Starter: #34 Nedeljkovic
Backup: #1 Brattstrom

#18 Lashoff - Veteran
#22 Pearson
#25 Soderblom - Injured
#77 Edvinsson - Injured
#82 Craggs - Injured (out for season)
#85 Patrick McGrath


#15 Vrana - #26 Weatherby - #39 Chiasson
#71 Hanas - #77 Edvinsson

#71 Hanas - #27 Czarnik - #11 L'Esperance
#56 O'Regan - #20 Kampfer

#17 Hirose - #27 Czarnik
#33 Johansson - #20 Kampfer

#13 - #65 Shine
#49 Barton - #40 Newpower


Tough game to watch, the home team got out to a 2-0 lead and then tried to hang on long enough to win. Springfield was bigger, fast, and stronger and had the Griffins back on their heels a lot of the night. Lots of excuses tonight, but some of the issues that continue crop up on a regular basis are hockey fundamentals. How many times do all the players turn away from the puck, or stand around waiting so they don't have any speed, or shoot directly into the goalie on a 2-on-1 where the netminder is lined up on the shooter all the way into the zone. The cast of characters has been changing, but something else needs to change as well.

Official Game Sheet