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Barons Blast Griffins in 4-1 Loss
Pulkkinen nets 10th in losing effort...
By Jason Kasiorek
December 5th, 2014

Richard Bachman had the Griffins number on Friday night at Van Andel arena, stopping 28 shots for a 4-1 win. Former Griffin Jason Williams also had a big part to play in his return to Grand Rapids, notching three assists to pace the Barons attack. Teemu Pulkkinen scored the lone goal for the home team, late in the game, while Thomas McCollum made 17 saves in the loss.

Bruton and Moroz came to blows in front of the penalty boxes in a major league tussle. Bruton narrowly got the decision. Midway through the first, OKC got on the board when Andrew Miller from the circle picked the top corner of the net and lasered a shot over McCollum's glove for a 1-0 lead. Mantha missed a wide open net on a beautiful back door pass. Pulkkinen got dumped along the boards and Evans came right over for a chat. Shots on goal: GR 8 - OKC 5.

Athanasiou with his head down at center ice got smoked by Moroz and went down in a heap. McCollum made the first stop on a powerplay point blast by Hunt, but Miller corralled the rebound right in front and buried it to increase the lead to two. The Griffins had a great chance when Athanasiou turned on the jets, took a lead pass and went in alone on Bachman but was stoned. Ouellet had a partial break and a nice scoring chance late in the period. Callahan dug the puck off the boards and centered for Miele who hit a streaking Pulkkinen in the circle. Pulkkinen misfired and it went wide. Shots on goal: GR 12 - OKC 12.

Zengerle got beat and then could not stop Hamilton from getting a breakaway and then a subsequent goal on McCollum. Aubry looking good in the third, showing some energy and speed. Two-on-one Ferraro and Bonis, Ferraro took the shot for an easy save. Ouellet with a great chance, walked right out in front. Mantha and Athanasiou had a 2-on-1, Mantha threaded the needle for a nice pass, but Athanasiou ran out of room to get a good shot off. The Griffins finally broke the goose egg late in third when Pulkkinen fired a floater from the line that got by Bachman with Callahan screening in front. Coach Blashill shortened the bench and got some sustained pressure on the Barons net. Goalmouth scramble but the Griffins could not get the puck over the line. McCollum to the bench for the extra attacker with two minutes and change left on the clock. Jensen coughed up the puck at the line as the last man back allowing Lander an easy empty-netter. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - OKC 4. For the Game: GR 29 - LE 21.

Zengerle - Athanasiou - Mantha
Callahan - Miele - Pulkkinen
Porter - Ferraro - Bonis
Hoggan - Aubry - Bruton

Patesch - Jensen
Ouellet - Marchenko
Evans - Sproul

Starter: McCollum
Backup: Coreau

Nosek - Injured Hand

Callahan - Miele - Pulkkinen
Paetsch - Jensen

Porter - Ferraro - Mantha
Ouellet - Sproul

Porter - Ferraro
Ouellet - Marchenko


Despite the difference in the shot totals, the Griffins were outplayed for long stretches of the game. The third and fourth lines especially did not match up well against the Barons, leading to some pretty brutal scoring chances against McCollum. The bench got shortened in the third and that seemed to help. It seems one of the biggest problems with the lineup is that with Nosek out and Nestrasil never making it back to GR, that the team is short down the middle with everyone playing up a line or two and not able to hold their own against that level of competition. This also exposes weaknesses in the depth of the bottom 6 forwards. This game especially made me wonder how much better the team would have fared if Zengerle, Bruton and Bonis were replaced with legitimate AHL level forwards. Martin Frk must really be in the doghouse to be playing Toledo over some of these guys. Blashill and Martin will have their hands full trying to find a top line center (unless the return of Nosek fixes it), and figure out which combination of bodies should be in play on the third and fourth lines. Luckily the team has several to choose from.

Official Game Sheet