Lorito's Late Heroics Lift Griffins Over Rampage 4-3|
Rookie rearguard Hronek continues hot streak in overtime win...
By Jason Kasiorek
February 9th, 2018
Matt Lorito scored a highly contested overtime goal to give the Griffins a 4-3 win over the visiting San Antonio Rampage. The win pushed the Griffins to a 7-0-0-1 record in their last 8 contests and a 3-0 record against the Rampage this season. The Griffins got goals from Filip Hronek and Matt Ford in addition the pair tallied by Matt Lorito, while Ben Street, Dominic Turgeon and Colin Campell each added two assists. Thomas McCollum made 35 stops to pick up 8th win of the season, and pulling him to .500 with an 8-8-3 record.
Newly minted franchise career win leader Thomas McCollum got the start for the Griffins. Zach Nastasiuk nice play to bang his way through a couple of defenders and still retain possession at the end for a scoring chance. The Griffins got two straight powerplays but the San Antonio penalty killers did a very good job of clogging things up and limiting quality scoring chances. Dan Renouf with a shoulder into Grimaldi as he tried to carry the puck into the zone, ending the rush quickly. Renouf with a shot on net and Tangradi in front for the tip, but Husso made a save. Shots on goal: GR 16 - San 7.
The Rampage got on the board early in the second, Graham with a long point shot that McCollum stopped, but the rebound came right out to Ouellette-St. Amant in front and Russo was trying vain to move him but the Rampage forward managed to chip it in over McCollum. Matt Lorito thought he had ties things up when he reached in to stuff the puck right past the post but somehow it did not go in. The play was reviewed but was still no goal. Hronek flew in and won a race for the puck carrying it in for a shot, then got the rebound back, circled the net and centered for another scoring chance. The gifted blueliner drifted back to the point where he got the puck back and lasered a shot into the net to knot the score at one. Another great shift for Hronek who was flying around the ice making plays. Evgeny Svechnikov in front with a couple of pokes at the loose puck, but couldn't jam it through. Nastasiuk with a nice rush and a scoring chance on Husso. Late 4 on 4 with Hronek in the box. Shots on goal: GR 12 - San 12.
Lorito up the middle with speed, split the defense and went right in on Husso for a chance. McIlrath to the box and San Antonio scored a quick powerplay goal on a nice play by Blais all alone in front spinning around and pushing the puck past McCollum's pad for Graham to score. The Griffins got it right back, Campbell won a battle and got the puck in then hit Turgeon in scoring position in front. Turgeon lifted it over the net and Lorito was in the right place to bring it out front from the opposite side and bank it off a defenders stick into the empty side of the net. Vogelhuber with a hit from behind wiped out Puempel. Russo went right over and started throwing punches and Puempel tried to get involved as well, before being dumped from behind by Girardi. Vogelhuner definitely took the worst of it, and once everything was sorted out, the Griffins ended up with a powerplay. Lorito immediately took a penalty to prevent a scoring chance to even things up at 4 aside. Vili Saarijarvi was high-sticked in front of the boxes sending a fourth player to the San Antonio penalty box. Russo was hauled down on the powerplay, sending a fifth Rampage player to the box and giving Grand Rapids an opportunity to blow things open. The Griffins were unable to take advantage of the extra ice and long advantage. Midway through the third, on a broken play Ford in the slot with the puck and ripped a shot past Husso that was immediately contested. The Rampage players stopped skating, expecting the play to have been called offside, but the officials said no and the goal stood. Turgeon pressuring the puck carrier stole the puck and went deep, centering for Nastasiuk for a nice chance. Then McIlrath had a shot from the circle that seemed to handcuff Husso. Turner Elson with a diving block to take away a scoring chance on the empty side fo the net with McCollum way over on the other side. Agozzino tied things up again late in the period when his long shot through traffic found a hole past McCollum. Shots on goal: GR 11 - San 15.
Great chance by Hronek off the opening faceoff. Grand Rapids with a 3-1 but could not get the shot off. Play back the other way and Hronek went down and took away the pass and the shot, allowing the Griffins to clear. Puempel with a breakaway, but he hit the post and piled into the end boards, where he remained down for awhile. Ford came late and beat Husso but hit the post on a beauty of a chance. Russo great job to break up a Rampage 2-on-1 and steer the puck back up ice. Delayed penalty to San Antonio and Saarijarvi carried in and centered. Turgeon with a chance and then Campbell found Lorito at the side of the net. Lorito napped a shot into Husso glove, but the glove was behind the line and the official called it a goal. After a long review the goal stood and the Griffins ended with a 4-3 win over San Antonio. Shots on goal: GR 3 - San 4. For the game: GR 42 - Man 38.
#28 Lorito - #23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#26 Tangradi - #10 Street - #73 Puempel
#55 Ford- #47 Elkins - #77 Svechnikov
#15 Elson - #25 Holmstrom - #37 nastasiuk/#77 Svechnikov
#13 Hronek - #5 Russo
#20 Renouf - #52 McIlrath
#18 Lashoff - #9 Saarijarvi
Starter: #30 McCollum
Backup: #31 Coreau
#2 Hicketts - Knee
#20 Renouf - Injured
Tangradi - Street - Puempel
Lorito - Hronek
Ford - Homstrom - Svechnikov
Russo - Saarijarvi
Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - McIlrath
Ford - Elkins
Renouf - Russo
While Matt Lorito made the most of his opportunities (and he could have had 2-3 more goals), His linemates deserve an equal share of the credit as Turgeon and Campbell really set the table for him time and again during this game. Campbell in particular did a great job of winning battles and getting the puck out in front where Turgeon and Lorito both had great scoring chances. These three were dangerous all night and were difference makers.
I also have to say that for large parts of the game, the most impressive player on the ice for either team was Filip Hronek. The rookie rearguard was really up on his toes and playing with confidence. As evidenced by his team high 7 shots on goal, he seemed to be attacking the net all night. Even more impressive was his ability to carry the puck through traffic into the zone and make plays with very little time or space seemingly at will. That confidence carried over into his own end, where seemed to be in the right place at the right time to pick off a pass or break up a play and start the transition.
Zach Nastasiuk also gets a mention as he was noticeable several times, and did a good job of keeping his feet moving and using his size and wingspan. He had a couple of nice scoring chances because he had some speed and was in position to get the pass. Nastasiuk also through some hits and did a good job of grinding down low and along the boards.