Grand Rapids welcomed Andreas Lilja to the line-up on a conditioning stint but were downed by a 5 goal performance from Rockford. The Griffins dropped their 27th game of the year and are only one point above the two last place teams in the AHL. Grand Rapids has only won 1 of the last 10 (1-9-0) and have dropped their 7th straight.
Justin Abdelkader registered his first goal since returning to Grand Rapids during the second period but it wasn't nearly enough against a Rockford team tied for first in the West Division. Rockford got goals from 5 different players while Jeremy Williams and Francis Pare added to Grand Rapids goal total.
Lilja's time and involvement were apparently pretty limited and he registered a -1 and 0 shots on goal (well, he posted one). Lilja was on the ice for 3 of the 5 Rockford goals (1 PP) and the Abdelkader goal, putting him at a -1 for the night.
Thomas McCollum gave up 5 goals on 34 shots against, including two goals within 57 seconds.
What this means going forward: Lilja got the first game past him and that's huge. After missing almost a full calendar year from post concussion symptoms, Lilja's first game at full speed and with full contact had to have been both a bit unnerving and a huge weight off his back. He can now move forward knowing what he needs to work on based on how much rust he has to shake off and how his body (and mainly, head) will be able to handle playing night after night.
A fan in attendance at the game offered up this insight via e-mail on Lilja's and GR's play:
- First off I do not know why Fraser keeps having McCollum play in net versus the IceHogs, after tonight's game he is 0-5 this season against Rockford.
- At first you could tell Andreas has not played in about a year, the rust was evident and his decision making a little slow. As the game progressed, his instincts and skills as an NHL player became evident.
- During the 2nd period while on the PP he sent a rocket of a shot that beat the goalie Crawford but caught the post.
- Same period defensively played a 2 on 1 perfectly allowing his goalie to come out and challenge a low percentage shot.
- His 1 minus came when a poor breakout pass from the other defensemen hit him in the back of the skates, bounced to an IceHogs player who passed it to a teammate for an easy one timer.
- Overall was very solid, especially considering being out with post-concussion syndrome for a year. His play got stronger as the night went on, was defensively responsible, and I cannot wait to see him up next week, he will definitely be ready to play by then.
Grand Rapids game summary.