Griffins Rally For Game One OT Win Over Admirals|
Nosek the overtime hero in 4-3 series opening win...
By Jason Kasiorek
April 21, 2017
Tomas Nosek was the game one hero for the Grand Rapids Griffins, netting the game winner midway through the 1st overtime period to give the home team a 1-0 series lead in the best of five AHL Central Division Semi-finals over the Milwaukee Admirals. The Griffins battled back from 1-0 and 3-2 deficits to force the extra session, getting goals from Matt Ford (1), Evgeny Svechnikov (1) and Matt Lorito (1). Jared Coreau didn't have his best stuff, but made 32 stops, including three in overtime to secure the win. The Griffins had 5 players making their AHL playoff debuts, Joe Hicketts, Dan Renouf, Axel Holmstrom, Dominic Turgeon and Kyle Criscuolo.
Things got off to a rough start for the Griffins, starting with the anthem Singer forgetting the Star Spangled Banner midway through. Then less than a minute in, Brian Lashoff's clearing attempt just got over the glass, leading to a delay of game penalty. The penalty killers were up to the task however and no damage was done. Nice play in front from Tyler Bertuzzi to Tomas Nosek for a pair of chances on the doorstep and then a scramble in front as a couple of Griffins tried to bang it home. Evgeny Svechnikov wired a quick shot through traffic from the boards that Mazanec got a piece of. It took awhile for Grand Rapids to get the powerplay on line as evidenced by two straight chances with very little show for them. Coreau behind the net to play the puck and clog the lane got bumped to the ice, and the Griffins were not happy. Dylan McIlrath with a late hit along the boards that drew a crowd. Brian Lashoff stuck out his hip and put a big hit on Richard that of course drew a crowd. Mitch Callahan went over to help and ended up with several Admirals trying to get a piece of him. Lashoff to the box leaving GR shorthanded and right off the faceoff, Gaudreau snuck a weak shot past Coreau for a 1-0 lead. The Griffins finally solved Mazanec late in the first with a great second effort, Matt Ford reached around from behind the net to bank in the rebound of Nosek's shot for a powerplay goal. Thirteen seconds later Svechnikov ripped a shot that Mazanec got a glove on but the puck fell out and rolled right into the net for a 2-1 lead. The lead was short lived however as Coreau gave up another questionable goal five hole from Granberg to let Milwaukee back in. Shots on goal: GR 14 - Mil 10.
Kyle Criscuolo with a steal at the line and then hit Bertuzzi in the slot for a chance. Criscuolo then took three consecutive penalties leaving GR shorthanded for 6 minutes. Unbelievable defensive play by Dan Renouf to take away a sure powerplay goal at the side of the net. Grand Rapids was up to the task again, killing off the penalties and stifling the Admirals powerplay. Street with a big blast from the slot that hit Mazanec. Gaudreau shorthanded breakaway, burned in on Coreau and fired it in over his shoulder for a 3-2 lead. Bertuzzi went after Liambas touching off a series of scrums and leaving GR in penalty trouble once again. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Mil 12.
Matt Lorito up the middle on the powerplay to Nosek who fired a shot over the net. Svechnikov with a wrister from the circle that Mazanec knocked down. Big hit in the corner and the puck came out for a Griffins scoring chance. Nosek right in front put it over the net again, then got it back and fanned on the second shot. McIlrath staring down Liambas after the whistle. Grand Rapids with traffic around the net, Lorito back door, banged home a pass from Bertuzzi to knot the score at three, midway though the third. Coreau with a glove save and dropped it causing a scramble to get it covered back up. Callahan with a steal and then raced up the side and around the official then hit Street for a good chance. Griffins four on two rush, but Bertuzzi fanned on the shot. Steal at the line and a hard shot by Criscuolo that Mazanec had to do the spits to stop. Hicketts on the goal line helping to keep the puck out during a scramble with 3:24 left on the clock. Lashoff with the defensive play of the game to tie up an Admirals shooter and drag him past the front of the wide open net. Shots on goal: GR 15 - Mil 10.
Bertuzzi took the puck to the net and set up Nosek for a point blank shot. McIlrath smoked Richard in the corner, causing the puck to pop loose. Steal by Lorito and a good chance. Lorito with a cross-ice pass, Nosek dangled through the defense, went deep into the corner and threaded a bad angle shot between Mazanec and the post for the game winner! Griffins 4-3 overtime win. Shots on goal: GR 5 - Mil 3. For the Game: GR 42 - Mil 35.
12 forwards - 6 defense
Bertuzzi - Nosek - Lorito
Tangradi - Street - Callahan
Svechnikov - Criscuolo - Holmstrom
Ford - Turgeon - Campbell
Paetsch - Hicketts
Lashoff - Russo
Renouf - McIlrath
#11 Cleary - Veteran
#27 Frk - Injury
Ford - Nosek - Lorito
Russo - Street
Tangradi - Callahan - Bertuzzi
Hicketts - Svechnikov
Turgeon - Campbell
Paetsch - Lashoff
Ford - Nosek
Hicketts - Russo
Tangradi - Street
Things did not look good for the home team through most of the game until the third period. It seemed as if the Griffins were not able to use their speed or get the puck through to Mazanec. Credit Milwaukee for doing a great job of clogging things up and taking away the shooting lanes. The Griffins shots were all hitting Admirals players and coming back out. Combine that with Coreau not being especially sharp and what looked to be a back breaking shorthanded goal, and it looked like game one was going to be a disappointment. The latter stages of the game, the team really started skating and used their speed to unclog the nuetral zone and suddenly they were getting the puck to the net and creating good chances. Mazanec had to be really sharp to keep them in it until overtime.
The Grand Rapids defense was very impressive on the night. They did a tremendous job of blocking shots and transitioning the puck back up ice and out of trouble. There were several notable times where a defenseman would appear in front of Coreau just in time to take away a scoring chances or knock a player off the puck. I was especially impressed with the job that the pairing of Renouf and McIlrath did, playing very physical shutdown D.
McIlrath just brings another dimension to the lineup, something that has been missing since Brennan Evans left. He is so big and strong that his presence is just a deterrent to opposing players. He was most impressive in his own end standing up forwards at the line and playing the body at every occasion. He was also as involved with moving the puck up ice as he has been during at any time since joining the Griffins.
Svechnikov was another player that really stood out, creating chances and scoring a very pretty goal. He is playing with a lot of jump and confidence and should be a key to the series. The fourth line of Turgeon, Ford and Campbell also was noticeable for all the right reasons. Turgeon did tremendous work on the PK with Campbell, perhaps the teams best shorthanded threat. Ford scored the first goal on the PP, and in the early going really looked like he was one of the few forwards firing on all cylinders.
Lastly I have to give a shout out to Axel Holmstrom. I gave him less than favorable reviews in the latter stages of the regular season, but last nigth he was a different player. He seemed to excel in the tighter checking game of the playoffs. I noticed him several times, battling his way into scoring position and trying to make plays with the puck. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.