Aeros Push Series to the Wall With 4-1 Win|
Glendening's Shorthanded Tally only Griffins goal...
By Jason Kasiorek
May 3rd, 2013
When rookie Luke Glendening scored a shorthanded goal early in the first, it looked like the Griffins would have smooth sailing to wrapping up their first round series with the Houston Aeros. But offensive officiating, spotty special teams play and a resilient Aeros team contributed to a different outcome. The Griffins dominated play for large parts of the game, but Houston potted a pair of powerplay tallies and phenom Petr Mrazek gave up an uncharacteristic bad goal to give the Aeros all the offense they would need. The two teams meet again on Saturday for the series deciding game.
Glendening chipped the puck past the point on the powerplay and then stepped around him for a shorthanded breakaway. The rookie forward cut through the crease, sucked out Condon and then buried the puck into the wide open net. After several blatant non-calls to the Aeros, the officials found their whistles to send a Griffin to the box. The Aeros promptly capitalized with Granlund putting a shot in under Mrazek. An Aeros played tried to stand Jurco up at the blueline, but the 6'2, 195 pound forward used his size to knock him flying while still controlling the puck on his way to the net. A few seconds later captain Hoggan knocked an Aeros forward down at the line. The Aeros look Frustrated with the Griffins Physical play. Late in the period, Mrazek got caught leaning and could not get back over to stop Rau's wraparound attempt, giving Houston a 2-1 lead. That bad goal was a momentum shifter as you could see the Griffins sag a bit. Shots on Goal: GR 15 Hou 7.
After controlling play for the first period, Grand Rapids was back on its heels a bit more in the second. Mursak had a great chance when he stole the puck in front of the net, but broke his stick on a point blank shot all alone in front. Houston made it 3-1 midway through the period on the powerplay when Kampfer's high shot went in over Mrazek. Ferraro and Jurco both had ridiculous scoring chances on the powerplay but just couldn't score. A big scrum broke out after the whistle at the end of the period showing the level of frustration. Shots on Goal: GR 9 Hou 8.
The Griffins absolutely controlled the third period laying siege to the Aeros net, but could not get any luck to get another goal. Blashill called Mrazek to the bench for the extra skater with 3 minutes left in the game, but McIntyre put the dagger in when he scored an empty netter to make it 4-1. Shots on Goal: GR 18 Hou 4. For the Game: GR 42 Hou 19.
Tatar/Hoggan - Sheahan - Pare
Hoggan/Tatar - Glendening - Mursak
Jurco - Ferraro - Callahan/Pulkkinen/Mursak
Grant - Aubry - Pulkkinen/Callahan
Tatar - Glendening - Jurco
Paetsch - Almquist
Evans - Billins
Skinner - Fournier
Pare - Sheahan - Billins/Tatar
Skinner - Tatar/Billins
Jurco - Ferraro - Hoggan
Paetsch - Almquist
Mursak - Glendening
Evans - Billins
Ferraro - Sheahan
Almquist - Paetsch
Jurco was a beast! He was almost unstoppable tonight carrying the puck into the zone and made so many jaw-dropping moves I lost count. I don't know how he was credited with only 2 shots on goal, because it seemed like he was driving the offense. He was involved physically as well, throwing big hits and muscling his way into scoring position. What a game
Ferraro was also dangerous many times including a couple of shorthanded chances. He used his speed well and paid the price to get the puck to the net.
Brennan Evans stepped up with 4 shots on goal and really showed the value of having a veteran performer on the backend. His tandem with Billins was very effective.
Glendening had another strong performance both in the circle and grinding it out with Hoggan.
Pulkkinen was dangerous with the puck and took his lumps in the slot to get some great chances. Especially in the latter stages of the game, he wanted the puck every time up the ice, tapping his stick to call for the pass, and generating a quality scoring chance. He looks like a veteran out there and was one of the Griffins top performers.
Petr Mrazek has been the teams savior this season, so it is tough to get down on him, but that wraparound goal should have never happened, and you could tell by his body language that he was mad at himself.
Special Teams did not get it done for the most part. Houston scored two powerplay goals on three attempts, and the GR powerplay was 0-4, not acceptable with the level of talent on this club. The shorty by Glendening keeps this from being ugly.
Where to start, I have been a huge booster of skinner, but he had an off night and did not look sharp with the puck.
There is no question Tomas Tatar is an NHL'er who is playing in the AHL. Last night he tried to be a magician, trying all these cute little plays and spin, etc. and just was the human turnover machine for most of the contest. He needs to stop trying to be Nyquist and go back to the game that got him to the NHL.
To be honest that whole line has been in tough shape for awhile, with Riley Sheahan mired in a half season offensive slump and streaky Frankie Pare as cold as ice. Coach Blashill broke them up for awhile in the third in an attempt to get one of them started.