Griffins Rally Dumps Aeros 3-1|
McCollum sharp in teams 5th straight win...
By Jason Kasiorek
Rookie Netminder Thomas McCollum kept up his hot hand in leading the Griffins to their fifth consecutive win. For the first two periods, McCollum kept his team in the game when they had no place being there, stopping 32 of 33 shots for the game including 16 of 17 in the second period when his team was outshot and outplayed badly. Grand Rapids got off to a slow start, eventually falling behind 1-0 in what started out as a sleeper of a game. After a second intermission pep talk, the Griffins offense and intensity came on line and Nylander, McGrath and Rissmiller scored three unanswered goals to rally for the win.
The first period was almost all Houston. The Griffins had trouble getting the puck out of their own end for large periods of time. The period was punctuated by a lack of intensity, seemingly on both sides as the two teams went through the motions. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Hou 7.
The Aeros almost completely dominated play in the second, scoring the games first goal early in the period. Earl's shot dribbled in behind McCollum to give the road team the lead. The Griffins seemed content to play in the neutral zone, and did not attack Houston's net. Tempers flared just past the five minute mark when a scrum along the Aeros blueline precipitated by a hit on Mursak sparked a brawl. Several players squared off and began to grapple, with Janik and Kalus becoming the main event at center ice. Janik landed a couple of haymakers, but took a couple of lesser hits as well. The Griffins ended up shorthanded due to Newbury disputing a call, the first of two such calls on the evening. Shots on Goal: GR 5 - Hou 17.
The Griffins started the third shorthanded for the first four minutes thanks to a boneheaded play by Kindl followed by him arguing with the official. The team took the ice with considerably more jump than they had the first two periods, and the penalty killers were up to the task.Just past the halfway point of the final stanza, Nylander took a bad angle shot that appeared to bank in off Dubielewicz. Five minutes later, McGrath gave the Griffins the lead on nice passing play with Emmerton. McGrath feathered a great pass to a wide open Emmerton to gain the zone, and then got it back in front where he cranked in a sharp-angle shot. Ritola almost made it 3-1 on the next shift, just missing on a beautiful wrap-around chance. The Griffins are attacking the Aeros net in waves, winning most of the battles for the loose puck. Dubie to the bench for the extra skater with 1:35 left on the clock. A huge collision at the Griffins blueline left a stunned Houston player unable to join the play or return to the bench. Rissmiller took advantage to cap the scoring with his second of the season into the empty net. Dubie to bench again with 44 seconds left, but time ran out on a 3-1 GR win. Shots on goal: GR 16 - Hou 9. For the Game: GR 29 - Hou 33.
Axelsson/Ritola - Nylander - Tardif
Ritola - Newbury - Mursak
Tatar - Rismiller - Williams
Emmerton - McGrath - Pare
Kolosov - Kindl/Pyett
Ehrhardt - Pyett
Janik - Piche
Crosty - Flu
Delmore - Knee
Newbury/Axelsson - Nylander - Tardif
Williams - Kindl
Axelsson - Rismiller - Tatar
Williams - Pyett
Ritola - Nylander - Newbury
Janik - Pyett
Nylander - Tardif/Axelsson
Kolosov - Janik/Kindl
Rissmiller - Axelsson/Williams
Ehrhardt - Pyett
Ritola - Newbury/McGrath
The official stats may show Kindl as a team high +2 on the night, but in reality he looked awful. His whole night was plagued by bad decisions and giveaways. He seemed to have more problems tonight in making or receiving passes cleanly. It is hard to believe he is expected to be ready for Detroit next season.
Conversely Logan Pyett, a frequent whipping boy on this site had a pretty good game. Sure he had a couple of defensive miscues, but was was much improved, and moved the puck well.
Cory Emmerton and Jeremy Williams were invisible for large portions of the game, and must step it up to be the impact players they are supposed to be.
Evan McGrath is really growing into his role on the this team. Besides the game-winning goal, he made several good plays, using his skill and skating to get the puck into the attacking zone.
Dick Axelsson was very noticeable tonight, showcasing his great wheels with a scrappy, aggressive game. He got his nose dirty around the net several times.
Mursak had a lot of energy, zipping around stirring things up and hitting everything in the opposing sweater. He really seems to have found a good spot with Ritola and Newbury on a feisty forechecking unit.
Ritola working his magic again tonight, especially in the latter stages of the game.
Jamie Tardif lead by example, and was one of the few forwards that gave a full effort all night long. He had several good scoring chances, and kept the Aeros looking over their shoulders because of his big hits.
Thomas McCollum was solid in the net. He had a lot of confidence ad was calm in traffic. One of things that stood out the most was his excellent rebound control, steering the puck out of harms way.
Travis Ehrhardt has rapidly moved up the depth chart to become one of the steadiest defenders on the squad. He was solid in his own end yet again tonight.