Griffins Watch: February 18th

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The revolution will not be televised, as the saying goes. In this case, it might be for the best; the Grand Rapids Griffins started the past week with a less than stellar three-in-three stretch against teams who don’t like to broadcast their games after the fact. Thankfully, though, there’s lots of footage of the last game, which saw a notable Wings prospect light up the score sheet. Let’s dive in!

The Games

The Iowa Wild, unfortunately, don’t post highlights of home games.

Friday, February 12t @ Iowa (4-2 Loss)

Release from GriffinsHockey.com

DES MOINES, Iowa – Christoph Bertschy scored a pair of power play goals while Steve Michalek stopped 35 shots as the Iowa Wild held off the Grand Rapids Griffins 4-2 on Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.
 
Tomas Nosek started the scoring shorthanded for the Griffins (26-18-1-1) 8:47 into the opening period. After a successful clearing attempt from Louis-Marc Aubry, Michalek initially decided to play the puck behind his own net, but bizarrely changed his mind and left the puck behind as he returned to his goal. Nosek won the race to the loose puck, converting on a wraparound at the right post.
 
Bertschy responded on the power play for Iowa (15-28-3-3) 1:22 later. Five seconds into a Xavier Ouellet hooking minor, Gustav Olofsson set up Bertschy for a one-timer at the left point, scoring low to Tom McCollum’s glove side.
 
Tyler Graovac gave Iowa the lead with 7:17 left in the first. After Colton Beck had his attempt blocked by the stick of Ryan Sproul at the left post on a 2-on-1, the rebound ended up in the goal mouth, with Graovac chipping a rolling puck into an open net. 
 
Iowa carried the momentum into the second period, with Zack Mitchell adding to the Wild’s lead at the 1:21 mark. Olofsson’s pass from the right corner reached Maxime Fortunus in the high slot for a one-timer that was redirected by Mitchell at the left post for his 17th of the campaign.
 
Bertschy scored his second power play goal of the night to make it a three-goal cushion 2:04 later. After Grayson Downing’s sharp-angle shot from the left corner was stopped by McCollum, the rebound was picked up at the left circle by Bertschy, who sent a wrist shot low to the blocker side. Jordan Schroeder extended his point streak to a franchise-record seventh consecutive game with the secondary assist.
 
Grand Rapids controlled the play in the final frame, outshooting the Wild 17-3. However, the Griffins’ only breakthrough came from Sproul with 17:26 remaining. Mark Zengerle’s feed from the right point found Sproul for a one-timer that made its way through traffic and past a screened Michalek.
 
Iowa finished 2-for-4 on the power play, while the Griffins were unable to score on three opportunities. McCollum turned aside 24 of 28 shots in a losing effort.

The Iowa Wild still don’t post highlights of home games…

Saturday, February 13th vs. Iowa (4-3 Win)

Release from GriffinsHockey.com

DES MOINES, Iowa – Joel Chouinard’s goal with 2:59 remaining in regulation proved to be the game-winner as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Iowa Wild 4-3 on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.
 
Robbie Russo’s pass from the left circle found Chouinard at the point for a one-timer that made its way through traffic, beating Steve Michalek high to the glove side. Chouinard was signed by the Griffins on Thursday to a professional tryout from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye and did not participate in Friday’s game. 
 
Grayson Downing started the scoring on the power play for Iowa (15-29-3-3) with 9:06 left in the opening period. Jordan Schroder’s pass from center ice reached Downing, who gained the zone up the middle and sent a wrist shot from the left circle over Jared Coreau’s glove and in.
 
Tyler Bertuzzi responded for the Griffins (27-18-1-1) 2:07 later. Dan Cleary’s pass from the right half-wall found Bertuzzi, whose sharp-angle effort from the right corner went past Michalek’s glove side shoulder.
 
Louis-Marc Aubry gave the Griffins their first lead of the night with 3:11 remaining in the first. After Colin Campbell intercepted Michalek’s pass behind the Iowa net, Campbell’s sent a centering pass towards Aubry at the bottom of the right circle for a shot that snuck through the Wild netminder’s right arm and body.
 
Zack Mitchell evened the score for Iowa at the 8:11 mark of the middle frame. Gustav Olofsson’s slap pass from the left point was redirected in by Mitchell at the far post for his team-leading 18th of the season.
 
Ryan Sproul gave the Griffins a 3-2 advantage with 2:43 left in the second. Brian Lashoff sent a cross-ice pass from near the top of the left circle to Sproul at the right circle, who lifted the puck over the glove side shoulder. 
 
The Wild answered back quickly, coming from behind a second time when Kurtis Gabriel scored with 57.9 seconds on the clock. After Tyson Strachan’s one-timer from the point was stopped by Coreau, the rebound ended up behind a spinning Coreau in front of the crease with Strachan shooting into the open net. The Griffins controlled the play throughout the final frame – outshooting Iowa 13-4 – but were unable to retake the lead for a third time until Chouinard’s late heroics.
 
Iowa finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Grand Rapids could not convert on two opportunities. Coreau turned aside 28 of 31 shots for the win, while Michalek stopped 34 of 38 shots in a losing effort.

The Rockford IceHogs, amazingly, also don’t post highlights of home games. Rough week..

Sunday February 14th @ Rockford (4-2 Loss)

Release from GriffinsHockey.com

ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Grand Rapids Griffins surrendered four unanswered goals – including two in a 4:11 third-period span – as they finished a three-in-three road trip with a 4-2 defeat to the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday at BMO Harris Bank Center.
 
Martin Frk started the scoring on the power play for the Griffins (27-19-1-1) 6:21 into the opening period. Nathan Paetsch sent a pass from the point to Frk, who blasted a slapshot from the top of the right circle off the left pad of Michael Leighton and in for his team-leading 19th of the campaign.
 
Tomas Nosek added to the Griffins’ lead when he made the most of a broken play at the 11:11 mark. Mark Zengerle’s pass from the right circle was supposed to reach Dan Cleary in front, only to deflect off the stick of Cameron Schilling and straight to Nosek for a tap-in at the right post. 
 
Bickell got Rockford (28-11-5-4) on the scoresheet on a 5-on-3 power play with 3:13 left in the first. Nick Mattson’s feed from the left point found Bickell for a one-timer at the top of the right circle, beating Jared Coreau just inside the left post.
 
The IceHogs thought they evened the score with 8:13 remaining in the middle frame. Chris DeSousa’s slapshot from the right point went wide off the end boards, but Bickell followed up by attempting to squeeze the rebound in at the right post. Both the goal light and horn went on, but the referee behind the net immediately waved off the alleged goal. 
 
Ryan Hartman would tie the game for the IceHogs 17 seconds later. After Mark McNeill crashed the net at the left post, Hartman retrieved the rebound in front of the crease and flipped the puck to the glove side and in.
 
Bickell gave Rockford their first lead of the night at the 5:04 mark of the final frame. Ville Pokka’s wrist shot from the point was deflected in front by Bickell, whose touch caused the puck to dip sharply to the glove side.
 
McNeill made it a two-goal cushion on the power play with 10:45 remaining. Pokka’s slapshot from the right circle forced a glove save from Coreau, but multiple IceHogs continued to jam away at the rebound with McNeill pushing the puck underneath the Grand Rapids netminder. In addition to keeping the IceHogs atop the Central Division and the Western Conference, Sunday’s result snapped a four-game winless streak.
 
Grand Rapids finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Rockford scored twice on five opportunities. Leighton turned aside 25 of 27 shots for his 24th win of the season, while Coreau stopped 32 of 36 shots in a losing effort.

Wednesday, February 17th vs. Milwaukee (4-1 Win)

Release from GriffinsHockey.com

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Anthony Mantha’s first career hat trick powered the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
 Mantha scored in each period and added an assist to also mark his first four-point game, as the Griffins toppled a first-place team for the second straight home game. Milwaukee began the night tied atop the Central Division with Rockford, which Grand Rapids beat 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 6.
Jared Coreau turned aside 29 of 30 shots for the Griffins, who kicked off a stretch of three straight and 7-of-8 at Van Andel Arena. The Charlotte Checkers will pay a Friday-Saturday visit to the Van, with each game starting at 7 p.m.
 The Griffins (28-19-1-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Milwaukee before the game was six minutes old. Mantha stole the puck off an Admiral’s stick at center ice and sped around defenseman Trevor Murphy before being hooked to the ice at the 2:24 mark, drawing the Griffins’ first penalty shot attempt of the season. He skated wide left of Marek Mazanec then faked a forehand shot before roofing a backhand into the right corner, breaking Grand Rapids’ 0-for-11 streak in penalty shots that dated to Doug Janik’s successful try on April 10, 2012.
Nathan Paetsch tallied the second goal off an Eric Tangradi feed at 5:24, launching a wrist shot from the point that sailed through Louis-Marc Aubry’s screen. Mantha earned the second assist on the play.
 The Griffins finished off killing a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Mark Zengerle to begin the second period then extended their cushion on Mantha’s second of the night at 17:21, when Zengerle set up Mantha for a one-timer from the top of the right circle that blew by Mazanec’s stick for a 3-0 lead.
 Thirty seconds later it appeared that Zengerle scored from the right side off a rebound to make it a four-goal game, but the referees ruled that a kicking motion propelled the puck into the net and upheld that decision after video review.
 Milwaukee (31-15-3-0) took advantage of its reprieve to get on the board with 11:35 remaining, when Taylor Aronson beat Coreau on a wraparound after collecting a rebound off the end boards. But Mantha completed his hat trick during a power play with 7:41 showing on the clock, as he plucked a puck out of the air at the top of the circles, quickly dropped it to the ice and blasted home a rising shot that Mazanec had little chance on.
 Mazanec made 26 saves for the Admirals, who have lost five of seven meetings with the Griffins this season. Milwaukee entered the game with three straight wins and an 8-1-1-0 record in its previous 10 outings.

The Stats

No Name GP G A P +/- Sh PIM
D 4 N. Paetsch 4 1 1 2 -1 7 0
D 5 R. Russo 4 0 1 1 2 3 4
D 7 R. Sproul 4 2 0 2 2 14 2
LW 8 A. Mantha 4 3 2 5 4 12 2
RW 9 M. Zengerle 4 0 4 4 3 7 6
LW 10 J. Hoggan 3 0 0 0 0 1 0
RW 11 D. Cleary 2 0 2 2 3 4 0
C 13 J. Andersson 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
D 14 N. Jensen 4 0 1 1 -3 8 0
RW 15 M. Callahan 4 0 0 0 -5 6 2
D 16 X. Ouellet 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
D 18 B. Lashoff 4 0 1 1 2 7 2
C 19 T. Nosek 4 2 1 3 4 11 2
C 20 J. Andersson 2 0 0 0 -1 2 0
C 21 A. Miele 4 0 0 0 -4 8 4
C 22 L. Aubry 4 1 1 2 2 7 9
LW 26 E. Tangradi 4 0 1 1 2 8 8
RW 27 M. Frk 4 1 0 1 -5 10 2
LW 39 T. Bertuzzi 3 1 0 1 2 8 30
RW 44 J. Rechlicz 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
RW 45 C. Campbell 4 0 2 2 1 5 5
D 49 J. Chouinard 3 1 0 1 2 3 0

At the 49 game mark, the Griffins are just barely holding on to a 50.33% estimated Fenwick Close, ranking them 13th in the league. Their goals-for percentage is a bit better at 53.76, thanks to the third-ranked save percentage of 0.923 that Jared Coreau and Tom McCollum have given the team. The Griffins still take the third-most shots per game in the league at 33.22, while giving up the seventh-most at 32.29.

Player of The Week

If this had been posted before yesterday’s game, my answer would be different, but you have to go with Anthony Mantha after his dominant performance against the Admirals. Even besides that, though, he had nine shots in and an assist in the three games prior, so he was far from a slouch during the team’s struggles.

Looking Ahead

Griffins Watch will return to its Tuesday time slot next week, but in the meantime, there are three more games to play! Grand Rapids takes on the Charlotte Checkers in back to back 7 PM home games on Friday and Saturday, before a Tuesday afternoon school day in Chicago against the Wolves. Check back to see what happens!