Peoria Pummels Grand Rapids 5-1|
Sloppy defense leads to three game losing streak...
By Jason Kasiorek
The suddenly struggling Grand Rapids Griffins turned in their second consecutive defensive nightmare coupled with an offensive outage and handed the surging Peoria Rivermen a late holiday gift. The game was highlighted by turnovers, giveaways and generally uninspired defensive play and it cost the Griffins a 5-1 loss. Jakub Kindl had the Griffins only goal, on the powerplay, making up a little for his horrendous play on the night. Daniel Larsson made 28 saves on 33 shots, but was hung out to dry several times. The Griffins have lost five of their last six games, including their last three, outscored 17-8 in that span. The lone bright spot was the penalty killing unit that killed off 7 of 8 Rivermen chances.
Peoria, winners of five of their last six, came into Van Andel arena and were ready to play from the drop of the puck. Unfortunately the home Griffins were not as the Rivermen dominated play in the first. Grand Rapids treaded water for the first 11 minutes thanks to strong play from Larsson, and then things went down hill. Pelletier ripped a shot from the top of the circle that just found its way in between Larsson's shoulder and the crossbar to give Peoria a 1-0 lead. Mursak went down hard behind the Rivermen net and took a long time to get back back up finally being helped off by the trainer. At this point Grand Rapids seemed to forget how to play in their own end and could not play the puck. As the play got sloppy, the game turned into a shooting gallery on Larsson as the puck was turned over and given away many times, leading to a free pass to the Grand Rapids net. Eller scored a minute and twenty seconds after the first goal taking advantage of a Griffins blueliner and then three minutes later Crosty was victimized leading to Talbots' goal. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - Peo 14.
The second period was more of the same as Grand Rapids only mustered 3 shots on goal and were completely dominated for large portions of the period. The sloppy play continued for most of the period, and the team looked to be doing too much individually and not playing together. The Griffins got into big penalty trouble early in the period. With Crosty already in the box, Kindl was whistled for a four minute high sticking penalty, and Williams joined him in the box for a tripping call, leaving GR on the wrong side of a long 5-on-3. The Griffins penalty killers, especially John Vigilante, worked hard and managed to kill off all of the penalties in convincing fashion. This seemed to breathe some life into the Griffins as they had a couple of chances. Pare chipped a shot under the crossbar from his knees and the light and horn went off, but play continued and it was ruled no goal. Peoria's netminder, Ben Bishop, played the puck past the Griffins defense, sending Tallackson in alone for a shorthanded goal that sailed just over Larsson's glove. Shots on Goal: GR 3 - Peo 11.
Grand Rapids got some scoring chances in the third, mostly one player breaks with a non-dangerous shot and no followup or teamwork. Kindl scored the team's lone goal, a powerplay marker midway through the third but it was too little too late. Late in the period Kolosov got hit from behind and Kindl took exception touching off a big scrum. Newbury got the better of Stastny, dropping him with a flurry of blows, while the rest of the grappling matches were broken up. Kindl ended up with the extra two minutes setting up another Peoria powerplay. Two and a half minutes later Crosty smoked Reaves in the circle, he really stung him, drawing the ire of Wagner and inciting a line brawl. Everyone dropped their gloves and piled on, even Larsson came out of the net to help out Tardif who had two guys on top of him. In the end Kindl took the extra two minutes again, and this time the Rivermen scored on the powerplay. Talbot stroked a shot from the circle that got by Larsson and put the exclamation point on a 5-1 beat down. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Peo 8. For the Game: GR 21 - Mil 33.
Rissmiller - Vigilante - Mursak
Pare - Nylander - Tardif
McGrath - Newbury - Williams
Walsh - Emmerton - #12 Rohlfs
Kolosov - Kindl
Ehrhardt - Delmore
Crosty - Pyett
McGrath - Newbury - Tardif/Mursak
Williams - Kindl
Rissmiller - Nylander - Mursak/Pare
Pyett - Delmore
Rissmiller - Williams
Kolosov - Kindl
Rissmiller - Pare
Pyett - Delmore/Ehrhardt
Tardif - Nylander
Vigilante - Tardif
3 Bishop - Peo
2 Pelletier - Peo
1 Talbot - Peo
It would be real easy to single people out for poor play, but this team as a whole did not play well. The defense in particular was awful. Kindl was very bad, making poor decisions with the puck, and taking bad penalties, but he had a lot of help. Kolosov had an ugly giveaway to the side of the net that larsson kicked aside, and Crosty was brutal. The forwards (most of them) did very little to help, and all seemed to be waiting for a breakaway pass instead of grinding it out in their own zone. Pare was one of the few standouts in the second half of the game, with maybe Tardif getting a mention for hard work. The line with Vigilante, Rissmiller and Mursak was easily the most effective, but that isn't saying much.