Riley Sheahan appears to have found his offensive game, notching a pair of goals to help Grand Rapids to it's fourth straight victory. Blueliner Brendan Smith also added a pair and sniper Frankie Pare had a goal and two assists to power the attack. The victory was costly for Grand Rapids, losing Gustav Nyquist to a dangerous hit in a rough contest that bordered on dirty. Petr Mrazek made 27 saves to improve to 4-0.
Sheahan opened the scoring early when he took a feed from Pare on the doorstep and converted it for his 2nd of the season. Rockford answered back a few minutes later when Lalonde redirected a shot from Hayes past Mrazek. Hayes then setup Saad who went in alone on Mrazek, made a nice move and slid the puck between him and the post for a 2-1 lead. Nyquist hit Almquist in the slot for a great scoring chance. Beach thumped Aubry along the boards after a whistle, drawing a crowd. Sheahan tied the game with his second of the night when he took a pass in the circle and chipped it over Hutton and into the net. Nyquist got drilled along the boards on the powerplay and didn't get up for a long time. The slick sniper looked shaky when he finally did get off the ice with help. Sheehan completed the hat trick at the 16:48 mark when he roofed a long shot over a screened Hutton. After the period ends, the second Sheahan goal is changed to Brendan Smith, taking away the hat trick. Shots on Goal: GR 12 - Rock 11.
Parkes on the forecheck stole the puck and put a point blank chance on Hutton. With the Griffins on the powerplay, Billins fed Smith who smoked a shot from the point into the net behind Hutton. Beach drilled Smith in the corner and left him in a heap on the ice. He drew a major for checking to the head and a game misconduct. Hayes took a nice feed in front of the net and chipped a shorthanded past Mrazek. Brutal powerplay for Grand Rapids as they generated no shots in five minutes. Late in the period Evans thumped Paradis in front of the boxes and ended up in the box for two. Shots on Goal: GR 5 - Rock 13.
A couple of hits led to a big scrum broke out at the blueline with Grant in the middle of it. Big hit by Aubry at center ice knocking down Kruger. Pirri chopped Almquist's ankles out from under him in the corner and no penalty was called as the game continues to get chippier. The Griffins are getting beat up by Rockford but not fighting back. Mrazek gets run in the crease by Morin for the third time and gets the stick up on him to clear the crease. Grand Rapids weathers the storm until Pare caps the game with an empty netter with just 7.3 left in the game. Shots on Goal: GR 6 - Rock 6. For the Game: GR 23 - Rock 30.
Tatar - Andersson - Nyquist/Ferraro/Jurco
Hoggan - Ferraro - Aubry
Pare - Sheahan - Jurco/Aubry
Grant - Raedeke - Parkes
Billins - Smith/Evans
Evans/Smith - Nicastro
Almquist - Lashoff
Starter: #34 Mrazek
Tatar - Andersson - Nyquist/Jurco
Smith - Billins
Hoggan - Ferraro - Pare
Almquist/Smith - Sheahan
Sheahan - Parkes
Evans - Lashoff
Andersson - Ferraro
Billins - Smith
The Icehogs were out to punish the Griffins all night long. They really were physical and hit at every opportunity. Aubry, Parkes and Smith tried to answer back, but as the game wore on, things got decidedly ugly. Beach and Morin both were over the line and were out to hurt.
Ugly hit on Nyquist, and he took along time to get up, and looked very out of it on the way to the room. I would expect him to miss some time.
In his absence, Tomas Jurco got moved up and showcased his skill with tatar and Andersson. He didn't disappoint, with several great scoring chances. he was very noticeable and had the puck all over the offensive zone. He made several plays out of nothing and frustrated Rockford by stealing the puck several times. He didn't have much to show for his efforts, but he was great the second half of the game.
Sheahan seems to have come alive with 3 goals in his last two games. He seems to have a preferred shooting spot, letting a shot fly from the circle, top shelf and has some velocity on the shot. If he keeps playing like this, the Griffins should have 3 viable scoring lines to keep the opponent off balance. His stock is rising.
Something woke up Brendan Smith tonight and he played with some fire and it is no surprise he had his best game of the season. He was involved physically and offensively and saw a lot of ice time.
Aubry and Ferraro also some some extra ice time in the absence of Nyquist, and both looked at home in scoring roles. Aubry really looked like a good fit with Sheahan as the two used their size, strength and skill to keep the puck deep and get it to the front of the net. Ferraro just has the skill to play with anyone but is so defensively responsible, he uses his speed to make things happen, but can get back in time to help in his own end.
Tatar was held off the score sheet, but played a strong game nonetheless. He refused to be bullied, using his speed to make plays and using his body, running into Rockford players to get the puck to a scoring area. He got knocked around a lot, but just kept coming.
Mrazek had another strong game, and this was more of a test because his crease was invaded regularly. He stood tall and made the big stops when he had to.
Billins added an assist on the Griffins fourth goal which put him in the AHL lead, not a bad start to a career.