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Monarchs Crown Griffins 3-2 in Shootout
Bernier wins goaltender duel with Howard...
By Jason Kasiorek

Grand Rapids led twice but was unable to shut the door on the visiting Manchester Monarchs. A goal by Justin Azevedo, his second of the game, late in the second tied things up and despite a dominant third period, the Griffins could not solve Jonathan Bernier leading to overtime and a shootout. The Griffins got goals from Darren Haydar (9) and Aaron Gagnon's first of the season. Former Griffin Scott Parse set up Manchester's first goal, and scored in the shootout.

The first was a pretty even period as the first time opponents sized each other up. Grand Rapids killed off an early Monarchs powerplay and seemed to draw a little energy from it. Just past the four minute mark Haydar got GR on the board, showing some great second effort to jam at the rebound of a Leino shot, eventually forcing it behind Bernier for a 1-0 lead. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - Manchester 7.

The Griffins couldn't get anything going on their lone powerplay of the game early in the period, with Manchester really stepping up the play. Justin Azevedo tied things up at 6:39 of the period on a nice feed from former Griffin Scott Parse, beating Howard in close. The story of the period though was a 5-on-3 penalty kill for a full 1:19 on the clock. The Griffins penalty killers including netminder Jimmy Howard were incredible. It looked like a Monarchs shooting gallery at times, but Griffins were blocking shots and forcing play, and anything that got through Howard was ready with an acrobatic save. Grand Rapids was rewarded for their stellar effort when Gagnon came out of the box, gloved down a pass at center ice and went in alone on Bernier for a highlight reel goal. The defensive forward made a couple of nice moves, deking out the Monarchs netminder and tucking the puck between his skate and the post to restore the GR lead. Five minutes later Azevedo scored his second of the period on a goal that Howard would probably like back, an easy shot from the slot with no screen. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Manchester 16.

The Griffins were firing on all cylinders in the third, laying siege to Bernier and the Monarchs net but were unable to get anything by him, sending the game to OT. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Manchester 3.

Neither team had much in the way of scoring chances in the extra session. Shots on Goal: GR 2 - Manchester 2 For the Game: GR 33 - Manchester 29.

The Shootout:
Parse went first for Manchester blowing a shot through Howard, five-hole. He was followed by Leino who went straight in and ripped a shot off Bernier's pads. Round two featured Azevedo being stopped by Howard, and Evan McGrath shooting the puck wide. Purcell had a nice chance but Howard did the splits and stopped him, followed by Oulahen who had the puck poke checked off his stick by Bernier. Leveille upped the lead to two when he went top shelf, picking the left corner over Jimmy's shoulder, but McCarty cut it to one when he cut in from the side and put the puck between Bernier's legs. Gabe Gauthier had the puck poke-checked away by Howard, and Ericsson sent the shootout into extra sessions when he blasted a big shot five-hole through Bernier. Parse had a second chance for Manchester but missed wide and then Ericsson was stopped by Bernier. Azevedo scored the eventual winner for Manchester, rolling the puck over Jimmy's pad. Ritola went last for GR but fired a shot that Bernier snagged with a glove.

#25 McCarty - Abdelkader - McGrath
Leino - Emmerton - Haydar
Ritola - Pare - Tardif
Oulahen - Gagnon - Downey

Ericsson - Jozsa
Galvin - Kindl
Stafford - Kolosov

Starter: Howard
Backup: Larsson


McCarty - Abdelkader - McGrath
Stafford - Kindl

Leino - Emmerton - Tardif
Ericsson - Haydar

Ritola - Abdelkader
Galvin - Ericsson

Leino - Emmerton
Stafford - Kindl

Oulahen - Gagnon


Not many observations from the game, as not a lot stood out good or bad.

Oulahen had a good game, especially on the penalty kill, too bad he is back on the fourth line.

Nice to see that even in the midst of his scoring slump that Abdelkader is being rewarded for his hard work with more defensive responsibility, out as the lone forward on the 5 on 3 kill.

On the way home after the game I listened to Bob Kazer rave about the game that Howard played tonight. I don't always agree with Bob (In fact not very often), but other than the 5 on 3 kill, I didn't think that Jimmy looked that sharp. The second goal looked like he was sleeping, and he was abysmal in the shootout. Maybe I just expect too much from him, but I have seen Howard play better.

McGrath was rewarded for his strong play as of late with time on the number one line and didn't look out of place. Unfortunately the line really didn't do much during the game

Official Game Sheet