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Griffins Grab a Share of 1st Place With 7-1 Stomp of Barons
Pulkkinen's returns to league lead with hat trick...
By Jason Kasiorek
March 4th, 2015

It did n't take long for Teemu Pulkkinen to announce his return from the NHL and regain his lead in the AHL scoring race. The surging sniper recorded his second hat trick of the season and now has 22 goals in his last 20 AHL games. The Griffins also got tallies from Zengerle (8), Athanasiou (12), Hoggan (9) and Nosek (7) in a dominant performance over the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Barons. With the win, The Griffins ninth in a row, Grand Rapids is now tied for 1st place. Petr Mrazek continued his stellar performance, only allowing one goal on 35 shots for his fifth straight win.

Miller chased by Ouellet, went behind the net and centered for Gernat in front for an easy goal and an early 1-0 lead. Pulkkinen teed up a rocket from the circle on a nice feed by Sproul. The crafty forward used a charging OKC defenseman as a screen and clanked a shot in off the crossbar to knot the score at one. A couple of minutes later, Jensen sent a long point shot on net that was tipped in front by Zengerle to give the home team it's first lead of the night. Sproul, carrying the mail, went end-to end, made a great move at the line to enter the zone, and then dished to set up a nice scoring chance. Davidson stepped in front of a Pulkkinen slap shot that stung him. He eventually hobbled to the bench, but needed to be helped over the board and down to the room. Shots on goal: GR 15 - OKC 10.

Stretch got a stick into Miele's face and was rewarded with four minutes in the box. Grand Rapids didn't get much going with the man-advantage. Great play by Tvrdon to hold it in and then Sproul rifled a heavy shot from the point. Pulkkinen added another goal midway through the 2nd to push the score to 3-1. Khaira went into the goal post hard and appeared to be hurt. Ferraro turned on the burners to shoot in on Brossoit and crashed into the post face first and then the end boards and was clearly in pain. He was helped t the bench and it looked like he injured his shoulder. He went right to the room and did not return. Mantha with a sick move to get open, but he couldn't lift the puck over Brossoit's pad. Pulkkinen hit Athanasiou in the slot for a point blank chance. Oklahoma City getting chippy. Ewanyk went after Hoggan after the whistle, and Bruton and Moroz were trying to get at each other. Nosek took a brutal hit by Ludwig in front . Porter went right over, dropped the gloves, and took Ludwig down. Athanasiou took a nice pass from Mantha in the slot and lasered a shot in under Brossoit for a 4-1 lead. A minute later Pulkkinen coming late fired his third of the night into the net, but it was immediately waived off Because Miele made incidental contact with the goalie. Shots on goal: GR 12 - OKC 11.

Tyler Bunz in to start the third for OKC in relief of Brossoit. Pulkkinen finished his hat trick just over a minute into the period when he blocked a clearing attempt at the line, chased it down, and sniped a shot from the circle past Bunz for his 33rd of the season. Hoggan made it 6-1 twenty-one seconds later when he converted a long shot from Czarnowczan from the doorstep with Mantha in front. Nosek finished off the scoring midway through the third with a nifty spin-o-rama in front, then he tucked the puck past Bunz as he was being knocked down. Mrazek with a big glove save on the powerplay to deny a dangerous OKC chance . Mantha got loose again, but his shot deflected into the netting. The Griffins got caught in a bad line change, but Mrazek bailed them out with a flurry of saves. Big scrum broke out, Moroz trying to get at Aubry. Bruton also in the middle of it with Ewanyk. Late Barons powerplay, Mrazek made a big stop, then got crashed into by Ford. Mrazek started throwing punches and then Czarnowczan got involved. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - OKC 14. For the Game: GR 37 - OKC 35.

Nosek - Porter - Ferraro
Pulkkinen - Miele - Zengerle
Tvrdon - Athanasiou - Mantha
Hoggan - Aubry - Bruton

Lashoff - Jensen
Paetsch - Ouellet
Czarnowczan - Sproul

Starter: Mrazek
Backup: McCollum

Callahan - ACL - Out for season
Evans - Lower Body Injury

Hoggan - Miele - Zengerle
Paetsch - Pulkkinen

Mantha - Nosek - Porter
Tvrdon - Sproul

Porter - Ferraro/Nosek
Paetsch - Jensen

Zengerle - Miele
Lashoff - Czarnowczan


Pulkkinen looks like a men among boys, scoring at will. Enjoy him now Grand Rapids, because he won't be back in the AHL next season...

Jeff Hoggan had a lot of jump tonight and really played a strong game. He had 6 shots on goal, and several rushes where he surprised the Barons with a burst of speed to get behind the defense. After a very slow first half with little ice time, he is heating up at just the right time.
BR>Petr Mrazek looked unbeatable, and made several highlight reel stops on the Barons. His positioning is near perfect and he looks to be in the right place to stop the first shot and anticipate the second. He also looks as confident as ever.

Official Game Sheet