McCollum Tames Wild in 2-1 Win|
Griffins move into second spot in the Central with victory...
By Jason Kasiorek
February 24th, 2018
The Griffins got stellar goaltending and an assist from their special teams to hand the visiting Iowa Stars a 2-1 loss and move into second place in the Central Division. McCollum rebounding from a subpar start on Wednesday against Chicago, stopped 22 of 23 shots including several of the highlight reel variety. The powerplay provided all of the offense going 2 for 3 on the night, and the penalty killers killed off all 3 Iowa man advantage situations. The Griffins got tallies from Matt Ford (20) and Matt Lorito (18) within a four and a half minute span in the second.
Captain Matt Ford took exception to a hit along the boards and was very feisty in letting the Wild know it. Ben Street in the slot in prime scoring position fired a riser just over the net. The Griffins with more jump early than they had the entire game against Chicago on Wednesday. The puck was stolen by Corey Elkins and he went end to end before feeding Elson in front. Several Griffins had chances off the rebound from all angles, but somehow the puck stayed out of the net. Dominic Shine led a rush up ice and wired a shot from the circle just wide. Svechnikov crashed the net trying to knock a loose puck in and was roughed up a bit. This touched off a scrum with Svechnikov throwing a couple of punches and the usual pushing and shoving. Shots on goal: GR 16 - Iowa 6.
Hronek carried the puck in deep and then was taken down (no penalty!) allowing a 2-on-1 back the other way. Hicketts dove to take away the pass and McCollum big in the net to take away the angle for the shot. Griffins second straight powerplay, Hicketts with the puck at the line and Saarijarvi drifted up into the circle, tapping his stick and calling for the puck. Hicketts sent him the pass and he put a big shot on net that was deftly tipped in by Ford in front for a 1-0 lead. Street sprung up the middle with speed for a chance, but was interfered with. Griffins back to the powerplay and Tangradi took a feed from Svechnikov in front. Tangradi made a sick behind the back pass into the slot and Lorito pounced on it, chipping it past Svedberg for another powerplay goal. Diving save by McCollum to take away a back door goal that looked like a sure goal, then a second shot hit him the mask. Shots on goal: GR 7 - Iowa 8.
Ford with a great chance on the rush, but Svedberg just took it away. Dylan McIlrath smoked Palmquist along the boards, stripping the puck away and sending it back up ice. Nice play at the line by Robbie Russo, who then carried it deep and found Lorito sneaking in to the slot for a chance. Tangradi solid work on the forecheck, stealing the puck behind the net for a chance. Svedberg to the bench with three and a half minutes left for the extra attacker. Campbell fighting his way through a crowd for a couple of chances at the empty net. McCollum with a huge stop, point blank with Iowa pressuring. The Griffins were trying to get the puck up ice for another chance at the empty net and got spread out just a little too far. And Gabriel's shot dribbled through McCollum to spoil the shutout bid with 3 seconds left in the game. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Iowa 9. For the game: GR 33 - Iowa 23.
#28 Lorito - #23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#26 Tangradi - #10 Street - #77 Svechnikov
#15 Elson- #47 Elkins - #55 Ford
Various - #25 Holmstrom - #65 Shine
#5 Russo - #13 Hronek
#20 Renouf/#9 Saarijarvi - #52 McIlrath
#18 Lashoff - #2 Hicketts/#9 Saarijarvi
Starter: #30 McCollum
Backup: #34 Matej Machovsky
#673 Puempel - Injured
Tangradi - Street - Svechnikov
Lorito - Hronek
Elson - Homstrom - Ford
Hicketts - Saarijarvi
Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - Hicketts
Elson/Ford - Elkins
Renouf - McIlrath
Nice bounce back game by the Griffins after Wednesday's awful outing. Everyone looked to be playing hard, very difficult to single anybody out either way. Well maybe Tom McCollum. McCollum was sharp and confident from the first shot on him. You can tell when he is in a good place mentally with his game because his movements become so economical, no wasted movement, square to the shooter, make the first stop and in position for the next. He made a pair of back to back saves in the second that were as good as any I have seen.
Iowa played a solid game and did a great job of clogging up the middle and taking the lanes away. The change under coach Lalonde has been most noticeable as this was a tough team to beat, not because they trapped, but because they played hard every shift.
The Griffins played a more physical game than normal with a lot of big hits thrown and everyone finishing their checks. I know several of the Wild players were sporting bruises from hard hits along the boards by Lashoff and McIlrath in particular. The rematch on sunday should be an entertaining game.