Unsung Heroes Power Griffins Past IceHogs 4-2
Callahan, Nestrasil and Evans contribute to win...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 8th, 2014
While the powerplay was the primary weapon (3 for 7), it was the night of the unsung hero for the Griffins in their 4-2 win over the visiting Rockford IceHogs. Mitch Callahan led the way with a goal and an assist including a rare powerplay marker, while low scoring Brennan Evans notched the game-winner. Andrej Nestrasil added a pair of assists with the man advantage as did blueliner Nathan Paetsch. Thomas McCollum picked up his 14th win of the season, making 31 saves.
The Griffins came out of the gate a little slow and looked lethargic for most of the first period. Rockford opened the scoring early, on the powerplay, with LeBlanc converting a shot from Morin through traffic in front past McCollum. Sproul answered back late in the period when he teed up a shot from the point that beat LaBarbera stick side for a powerplay goal. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - Rock 17.
The second period was a different story, as the Griffins answered the bell and started to take over the pace of play. Callahan, McIntyre and Tootoo had some great shifts early, really pressuring the puck and LaBarbera. Sproul wound up another of his rocket shots from the point that was blocked by tough veteran Theo Peckham. The shot hobbled Peckham who limped to the bench. The IceHogs started a steady stream of players to the penalty box, giving the Griffins several consecutive powerplays. LaBarbera came up huge, stopping some great chances to keep the game tied. Callahan scored the go-ahead goal, sneaking out on the last shift of a powerplay. The gritty winger went to the net with Nestrasil, picked up his own rebound, and banged home his 14th of the season. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Rock 10.
Veteran Brennan Evans extended the lead early in the third, keeping up his scoring surge by ripping a shot from the circle that snuck in under LaBarbera's pads for a 3-1 lead. Midway through the third, Clendening dumped a weak shorthanded attempt at McCollum and it ht him in the chest and then trickled in five-hole. Grant and Peckham had a funny exchange along the boards as the Griffins enforcer gave him a light cross-check, and Peckham exaggerated the fall. They both went to the box, one for the offense and the other for diving. On the way to the box Grant reenacted Peckham's dive which got everyone laughing. With just over a minute left, LaBarbera was summoned to the bench for an extra skater. Winchester got tossed from the faceoff circle, Sheahan won the draw against his replacement, and the Griffins tried a long bomb down the ice that just missed the empty net. Winchester was sent to the box for slashing and LaBarbera came back to the net. Sheahan walked in on net, made a move and snapped a shot past the IceHogs netminder stick side with 29.4 seconds left to ice a 4-2 win. Shots on Goal: GR 17 - Rock 6. For the Game: GR 40 - Rock 33.
Jurco - Sheahan - Pulkkinen
Emmerton - Jarnkrok - Ferraro
Callahan - McIntyre - Tootoo
Grant - Nestrasil - Frk
Paetsch - Almquist
Jensen - Ouellet
Evans - Sproul
Emmerton - Nestrasil - Ferraro
Sproul - Paetsch
Jurco - Jarnkrok - Sheahan
Pulkkinen - Almquist
Callahan - Sheahan
Evans - Ouellet
Emmerton - Ferraro
Paetsch - Almquist
Martin Frk had a much more effective game (at least the little of it he played). He had a couple of early scoring chances and looked much more engaged and effective.
After a slow start, Jurco really picked up his play in the latter stages of the game, while he was not as flashy as he can be, he was relentless in the offensive zone.
It was fun to see Evans score the game-winner, and see his teammates reaction to it. His offensive contributions remain a bonus, but it is great to see his hard work rewarded.
Pulkkinen was snakebit as he said several brilliant chances, including finding himself all alone in the slot with the puck and he didn't get off a clean shot.