Athanasiou Electrifies Audience With Overtime Heroics in 3-2 Win
Mrazek notches win in first Griffins Start since November 14th...
By Jason Kasiorek
February 20th, 2015
In what is becoming a habit for this team, the Griffins played another overtime game and another overtime hero stepped forward, this time the rapidly emerging Andreas Athanasiou. The rookie center has taken his game to another level after returning from a broken jaw, netting 4 goals and 4 assists in 7 games while providing a spark with his drive and jaw-dropping speed. Andy Miele (18) and Marek Tvrdon (4) also scored in the win for Grand Rapids who have only lost once in their last 13 games. Petr Mrazek got the win in his first start for the Griffins since November 14th.
Hamilton opened the scoring early in the first on the powerplay. Drayson Bowman walked out in front of the net and had a point shot hit him, hit Mrazek and then dribble over the line. It was nearly 2-0 a few minutes later when Sproul couldn't quite tie up his man allowing a dangerous shot right in front. Frk snuck inot the play and just missed an open side of the net on the powerplay. Tvrdon fired a knuckleball from the circle that bounced in past former Griffin Joey MacDonald to knot the score at one apiece. The celebration was short-lived however as the goal was reviewed and eventually waived off. Shots on goal: GR 14 - Ham 8.
Athanasiou came late on the play and had a hard rip right into MacDonald's glove. The Griffins kept up the pressure as Ferraro used his speed to break free, circle the net and backhand a shot that Athanasiou in front almost punched past MacDonald. Behind the play, Mrazek got dumped by Dowell and Ouellet was trying to get him to drop the gloves. Up ice, Athanasiou with speed, beat the defender, circled the net and ripped a shot off the crossbar. Miele fed Zengerle for a great chance and MacDonald just got a piece of it. Aubry smoked Drewiske in the corner with a thundering check. The lanky forward then had a great scoring chance, going to the net with speed. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Ham 14.
Carr tried a little spin-o-rama move at the line, but got knocked on his butt for his trouble as the Griffins stole the puck and went up ice. Behind the play Shea and Mantha were hacking and whacking each other and it looked like it was going to get ugly. Mantha went to the bench and Bruton took up the feud with Shea in the corner and a big scrum broke out. Miele broke free and rifled a shot from the circle off the post. Tvrdon picked off the clearing attempt behind the net, walked out and snapped a shot past MacDonald to even things at one. Bowman broke in alone on Mrazek but Mrazek came out and stoned him. Hoggan with a steal along the boards, made a slick move to go to the net and had a great scoring chance. Mantha picked off a pass at the line and tried to bull his way to the net, using his size and strength to fight through the Bulldogs defense.
Hamilton 2-on-1 but Czarnowczan made a great sliding block to take everything away. Mantha doing a great job along the boards, winning the battles and creating scoring chances. Frk at the side of the net made a heads up play to find Athanasiou for a point blank chance. Sproul tee'd up a rocket from the blueline that was tipped in front by Miele to give Grand Rapids its first lead of the game. Huge hit by Sproul who caught Dumont at the line with his head down and left him in a heap. Athanasiou fearless, fighting his way to the net in heavy traffic again and again. With time getting short in the period, Ellis picked a corner and lasered a shot in over Mrazek's shoulder, stick side to tie the game. Hoggan broke in, made a nice move going backhand to forehand and rang a shot off the post. Shots on goal: GR 7 - Ham 5.
Zengerle followed Sproul into the zone and then tried to sneak a shot on net between his legs for a good chance. Macenauer and Ouellet pushing and shoving behind the net, tipped it over enough to knock Mrazek down. Andrighetto broke in on Mrazek with speed but Zengerle angled him out and he went down. Hamilton with a flurry of chances that Mrazek had to be sharp on before it was finally cleared. Athanasiou got sprung behind the defense by Paetsch, turned on the jets, went end to end, deked and slid the puck past MacDonald stick-side for the win. Shots on Goal: GR 3 - Ham 8. For the Game: GR 34 - Ham 35.
Hoggan - Porter - Ferraro
Tvrdon - Miele - Zengerle
Frk - Athanasiou - Mantha
Bruton - Aubry - Campbell
Lashoff - Jensen
Paetsch - Ouellet
Czarnowczan - Sproul
Callahan - ACL - Out for season
Nosek - Concussion
Evans - Lower Body Injury
Hoggan - Miele - Zengerle
Paetsch - Frk
Mantha - Porter - Ferraro
Tvrdon - Sproul
Porter - Ferraro
Paetsch - Ouellet
Zengerle - Miele
Lashoff - Jensen
Mrazek had a good night between the pipes, but looked like he was not at the top of his game, especially early. He made some highlight reel stops and got lucky being in the right place as puck bounced off him in traffic. He did not play bad, but his body language suggested he was not in his groove.
The kid line was the story again last night, especially in the latter two periods. The three rookies seemed to be finding chemistry. One of the three will have to start becoming more of a shooter, but their slick tic-tac-toe passing and puck movement set up several dangerous looking opportunities in close.
Athanasiou in particular really has stepped up his game since returning from his broken jaw. He seems to be faster (is that possible), but also seems to be using his line-mates more instead of trying to beat the whole team himself. It could also be that his time off allowed him to process some of the subtleties of the pro game and make adjustments. In any case his emergence has made him a front line player and has had a positive effect on Mantha and to a lesser extent Frk.