Griffins Frustrate IceHogs Again with 3-1 Win|
Tatar's two too much for Rockford...
By Jason Kasiorek
December 31st, 2012
The Griffins turned in another spirited win over the Rockford IceHogs in front of a near capacity crowd to start Grand Rapids' New Years Eve celebration early. The game was expected to a be a physical contest after Grand Rapids won a fight filled 4-2 contest earlier in the month, and the crowd was not disappointed. The home team got goals from Ferraro (10) and Tatar (12,13) while at the other end of the ice Mrazek stopped 28 of 29 shots for his 11th win of the season. The Griffins, already forced to call in reinforcements before the game, lost Frankie Pare and Landon Ferraro to injury in the second period.
Grand Rapids continued its trend of getting on the board early, scoring just two minutes into the game. Captain Jeff Hoggan fired a rocket from the circle that was stopped, Glendening had a pop at it in front, and then Ferraro banged it home for his 10th. It was evident that the bad blood between these two teams had carried over from their last game, and things boiled over a few minutes after the goal. Beach was at the center of it again, but after several small scrums, Grant and Bollig dropped the gloves for the featured bout. The Griffins had another good chance in front when a shot hit Hutton and the rebound lay in the crease. Three different Griffins had a whack at it before it was cleared. Smith had a great dinging defensive play to take away a dangerous scoring chance in the slot. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - Rock 13.
Olsen took advantage of a Griffins penalty to put Rockford on the board when he rifled a shot from near the line that bulged the twine behind Mrazek. A bit later Mrazek was bowled over by Beach, with no penalty assessed. Pare got his bell rung by St Pierre behind the play and was shaky getting back to the bench. Tatar restored the lead when he took a pass from Nyquist, curled in towards the slot and stroked a rising shot in over Hutton, stick-side. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - Rock 9.
Midway through the third, Tatar put the game away with his 13th of the season. Nyquist sprung him on a breakaway and he let a quick, rising shot go as he he hit the circle that beat Hutton low stick-side. The Griffins played the third period with a short bench as Pare and Ferraro were missing with injuries. Beach and Smith tried to get at each other, touching off a series of skirmishes. Hutton spent the last minute on the bench for an extra attacker, but it was for naught as the Griffins closed out an impressive 3-1 win. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - Rock 7. For the Game: GR 28 - Rock 29.
Pare - Aubry - Jurco
Tatar - Sheahan/Raedeke - Nyquist
Hoggan - Glendening/Sheahan - Ferraro/Callahan
Grant - Raedeke - Callahan
Aubry - Raedeke - Jurco
Evans - Billins
Paetsch - Smith
Almquist - Lashoff
Tatar - Glendening/Sheahan - Nyquist
Almquist - Billins
Hoggan - Ferraro - Pare
Paetsch - Smith
Callahan - Glendening - Jurco
Aubry - Sheahan
Lashoff/Almquist - Evans
Callahan - Ferraro
Paetsch - Smith
Glendening - Sheahan
Prior to the game, the team recalled Brent Raedeke from Toledo to fill in, as Joakim Andersson did not dress. Riley Sheahan stepped in to the role of first line center and did not miss a beat. He added a different dimension, and it is no coincidence that Tatar broke out of a slump with two goals on the night.
The resulting shift also put Aubry back on a scoring line, and he looked as effective as he has at any point this season. He showed some chemistry with Jurco and Pare and used his size to get the puck deep before dishing to the two snipers.
That left Glendening to move up and get more ice time. He played on all three of the top lines and the powerplay, and did not look out of place. His hard work, hustle and nose for the net seem to compliment his skating and skill well in a variety of roles.
Grant answered the call several times and it seemed like he was in the box a lot of the night. Add that to Raedeke sitting in the sin bin for most of the first period and the in-game injuries to Pare and Ferraro, the team essentially played with three lines all night.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Callahan again. He has slowly rebuilt his game to be a defensive monster. He is a tremendous forechecker, using his speed, above average puck sense and absolutely dogged determination. He kills penalties with flair and even got some powerplay time tonight. He has lost a little of the edge he had earlier in his career and subsequently his offensive game is not on the track it looked to be, but he is a valued member of the team, and plays his new role well. Hopefully playing with Ferraro will help him figure out how to turn the offense back on while still being a top-flight defensive forward.