The Griffins extended their franchise record win streak to 14 games Saturday night with a 6-1 win over the Texas Stars. The Stars came out hard and fast in the 1st period and Jared Coreau came up huge for his team, making key saves while his team was under siege and keeping the looking for some retribution. Jared Coreau came up huge in the first 5 minutes of the game. With the Stars assaulting the Griffins and could have easily had a 3-0 lead early if not for Coreau's heroics. After the Stars early onslaught, Curtis McKenzie took an interference penalty at 3:39 and gave the Griffins their first power play of the game. With 27 seconds left in the power play, the surging Martin Frk put the Griffins up 1-0 on another rocket of a shot from the left circles, Andy Miele and Ryan Sproul picked up the assists.
The Griffins finished the 1st period strong after their ugly start and had a 1-0 lead. Just under 2 minute into the 2nd period, the Griffins would take a 2-0 lead on Brian Lashoff's 1st goal of the season on a nice drop pass from Danny Cleary, Tomas Nosek picked up the other assist.
With 6 minutes left in the period, Tomas Nosek would put the Griffins up 3-0 as he crashes the net and puts home a Robbie Russo rebound. Cleary Passed to Russo in the slot, Russo took the shot and Nosek was crashing the net and put the rebound past Campbell. After he scored the goal, Nosek looked towards the Griffins bench area and blew a kiss and waved. Nosek's girlfriend has been in Grand Rapids for some time now and I'd bet he was blowing her a kiss. Awwww.
The Griffins had a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes and outshot the Stars 23-18.
The Stars were clearly frustrated down 3-0 with the Griffins dominating them, and the previous night's loss still stinging. Jason Dickinson, former teammate of Tyler Bertuzzi in Guelph, was frustrated and jawing with any Griffin he could all game long, so when Xavier Ouellet knocked him on his butt in the Griffins zone with 4 minute left in the 2nd period, he retaliated by boarding Robbie Russo hard behind the Griffins net. This action was not ok with the Griffins, and both Andreas Athanasiou and Xavier Ouellet immediately went to tell Dickinson as much. Brendan Ranford stepped in and challenged Athanasiou to a duel, and AA used his magical hands to do some dirty work and took Ranford down to the ice.
Grand Rapids played a fantastic 2nd period and really took the game over after the first 5 minutes of the 1st, but the 3rd period was all Griffins and they were relentless. With a 3-0 lead, the Griffins proceeded to score 3 more goals in the 3rd and only give up a single deflected, strange goal that ruined Jared Coreau's shut out. The Griffins waited until 8:53 into the 3rd period to continue their assault on Texas and Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, or Manthanasiou as I call them, once again had a give and go in the offensive zone that resulted in a goal. Marty Frk chipped the puck into the offensive zone with Mantha crossing the blue line and Athanasiou not far behind him. Mantha go to the puck but had a Stars player all over him so he chipped the puck to the middle of the ice where he knew he had Athanasiou streaking in. Athanasiou took the pass and gave it right back to Mantha who made a beeline to the net. With Campbell having to take the puck carrier (Athanasiou), and his defense sitting down on the job, Mantha had a wide open net and AA fed him the puck and Mantha rifled it past the desperate Campbell. Boom! Griffins led 4-0 and Athanasiou added an assist to his fight.
Less than 4 minutes later, Andy Miele put the Griffins up 5-0 by crashing the net and banging home a rebound. Mark Zengerle gave the puck to Tyler Bertuzzi on the doorstep, Bert was banging away at the puck and the rebound squirted out to Miele on Campbell's right and Miele tucked the puck in and kissed it goodnight.
With just under 6 minutes to go, Texas ruined Coreau's shutout when Mattias Backman, who else) shot the puck from almost on the goal line and it hit Nathan Paetsch and deflected in past Coreau. Eric Zane was still announcing Miele's goal when Texas scored, and it was such an innocent looking shot that I didn't even realize they had scored until I saw Jared Coreau's reaction. I'm not sure many people knew what had happened right away.
The Griffins returned fire 1:22 later when Manthanasiou once again struck. From just inside their own blue line, Brian Lashoff and then Marty Frk chipped the puck into the neutral zone where Anthony Mantha scooped it up. Mantha carried the puck to the other side of the ice, choosing the spot he'd enter the zone. He then held the puck along the half wall and paused for just a couple seconds, both drawing 2 Stars player towards him, and allowing Andreas Athanasiou to get into perfect position in the slot. Mantha's smart decisions here and skill in executing can't be overstated. Athanasiou makes no mistake ase he redirects the pass from Mantha and he backhands it along the ice and past the right pad and skate of Campbell, completing his Gordie Howe Hat Trick and securing the Griffins 6-1.
With a franchise record 14 game win streak, and tying a franchise record 10 game home win streak, the Griffins go into a 6 day Christmas break on a high note. When they return to action on December 26th, it will have been exactly 6 weeks since their last loss.
Jared Coreau made 28 saves on 29 shots and almost had the shutout.
3 Stars of the game:
1st Star- Marty Frk with a power play goal and 2 assists
2nd Star- Andreas Athanasiou with the Gordie Howe Hat Trick
3rd Star- Anthony Mantha with a goal and assist.