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Griffins Lose Fifth Straight as Condors Rally 3-2
Sproul scores a pair of powerplay markers in loss...
By Jason Kasiorek
April 16th, 2016

The Griffins paid the price for not putting away the Bakersfield Condors when they had the chance. Despite dominating them for large chunks of the game they could not pull away setting up the late game heroics for Condors' blueliner Brad Hunt to score the backbreaking winner with just over two minutes remaining. The loss spoiled a great effort and a stellar night for special teams featuring two powerplay goals by Ryan Sproul in three opportunities. Thomas McCollum absorbed the loss, his 13th of the season, stopping 18 shots.

Grand Rapids with an early powerplay. Ryan Sproul fired a cannon from the point that found its way past Brossoit for a 1-0 lead and tied his career high with his 11th goal. Grand Rapids really carrying play with Bakersfield not recording their first shot on goal until 9 minutes in. Sproul drifted into the circle and put a low shot on Brossoit that just bounced wide off the Condors' netminder. Two-on-one Bakersfield, Dan Renouf went down and Platzer sniped a shot in over McCollum top corner, glove side to even the score at one. Khaira drilled Louis-Marc Aubry to the ice in front of the net. Aubry got up and the two dropped the gloves behind the play. They both got a couple of punches in but Aubry was at the end of a shift and was gassed. Shots on goal: GR 15 - Bak 4.

Colin Campbell, shorthanded, crashed the net and got taken down. As he slid into Brossoit the puck went with him and ended up over the line. The play was reviewed and called no goal. Tyler Bertuzzi with speed tried to split the defense and got crunched, but was able to get the puck to Martin Frk for a dangerous shot. Bertuzzi throwing hits left and right, really bringing the physical game. Bakersfield picking up the intensity and bringing the play to GR, shots starting to get lopsided. Boychuk dragged a puck into the slot around Mark Zengerle and wristed a screened shot in over McCollum for their first lead of the game. Aubry late man up the middle for a nice scoring chance. Andy Miele in front deked Brossoit and fired a shot that bounced up and was on its way into the net when Oesterle skated behind the netminder and made the save. Physical play picking up again in the latter stages of the period. Anthony Mantha and Hunt going back and forth slashing, hacking and whacking each other. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Bak 12.

Sproul jumped way up into the play and cranked a shot from the circle in over Brossoit glove side for his second powerplay goal of the game. Bertuzzi circled through the slot and picked up an errant pass for a brilliant chance in front. Miele with a rip from the circle that hit the post and the crossbar, but stayed out. Another shot and the puck lay loose in the crease as GR whacked at it, leading to a big scrum in front. Mitch Callahan wide open in the middle and couldn't get the shot off. Aubry taken hard into the condors bench and is not happy. Turnover in front of the Griffins cage with two minutes and change on the clock, Hunt on the doorstep chipped the puck in over McCollum for a 3-2 lead. McCollum to the bench for an extra attacker as Grand Rapids tried to get the equalizer. Tomas Nosek high-sticked Ford and was sent to the box for 4 minutes, effectively ending the Griffins chance at redemption. McCollum to the bench again, but it was too little too late as time ran out on a season ending 3-2 loss. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Bak 5. For the game: GR 28 - Chi 24.

Hoggan - Aubry - Campbell
Tangradi - Miele - Callahan/Mantha
Bertuzzi - Nosek - Frk
Callahan - Zengerle - Mantha/Campbell

Paetsch - Sproul
Lashoff - Jensen
Ouellet - Russo

Starter: McCollum
Backup: Coreau

#11 Cleary - Injury
#23 Grant - Injury
#32 Hirschfeld - Seizure/Brain Surgery
#37 Nastasiuk
#44 Rechlicz
#46 Criscuolo
#48 Saarijarvi

Callahan - Miele - Mantha
Frk - Sproul

Tangradi - Zengerle - Bertuzzi
Ouellet - Russo

Campbell - Nosek/Aubry
Lashoff - Jensen

Miele - Callahan
Paetsch - Ouellet/Russo


Grand Rapids probably deserved a better fate, dominating for most of the game, but was not able to put the game away, and every mistake ended up in the back of the net. The positive take away, was despite notching their fifth straight loss, the team looked much better than they have recently, playing with more intensity and urgency. This was also probably the most physical contest of the season, at times the hitting game was ferocious. The powerplay also got untracked for two goals in three chances.

Ryan Sproul had a great game jumping up into the play, and firing several shots on goal with his huge booming shot. He was credited with three, but had several more blocked or miss the net, and was probably closer to ten. While some will point out that he finished the night -3, at least two of three were not on him and the third was a break down of all five players around the net. He plays (and has played) much better in his own ice than most people will give him credit for. Statistically he has scored 9 goals the second half of the season and has 6 goals and 8 points in his last 17 games. It might also be noted that he is +1 in that span as compared to -5 for Russo and -2 for Ouellet as the Griffins have had a tough time 5 on 5.

The team elected to dress 7 defenseman and 11 forwards, due to the glut of injured forwards on the roster. It is curious that the recently recalled Vili Saarijarvi was not dressed for his first AHL start instead of Dan Renouf. If Saarijarvi isn't going to play he should be sent back to Toledo where he can continue his development playing a role on their playoff team. I am not a fan of this alignment as I think everyone is out of their rotation trying to fill in or fit in the odd player.

Official Game Sheet