WINNIPEG, Manitoba – For the second consecutive game, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the league’s best team on their own ice. The 5-1 defeat of the Manitoba Moose was only the team’s second regulation loss in 21 games at Bell MTS Place and the team’s largest margin of defeat on the season.
The Griffins (18-16-1-4) have now won seven of their last eight games, while the Moose (25-7-3-2) have dropped three of their last four. Grand Rapids returns home on Friday night to take on the Cleveland Monsters at Van Andel Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. EST.
The Moose got on the board first when Buddy Robinson scored his 17th goal of the season just 53 seconds into the game. A long rebound off of Jared Coreau slid to the left boards for Mason Appleton who looked up the ice to an open Robinson who skated past two defenders. The 6-6 winger sent a laser over Coreau’s glove for the 1-0 lead.
Grand Rapids responded 28 seconds later with a goal from Matt Lorito after a turnover in the Manitoba zone. A defenseman fumbled with the puck in the right circle and the Oakville, Ontario native took full advantage with the quick steal. Lorito skated towards the net, and past the crease, until Moose goaltender Eric Comrie was left in a vulnerable spot for the shot to sail over his outstretched leg.
With 44 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Corey Elkins tallied his sixth goal of the year after catching the Moose off guard. Robbie Russo and Dominik Shine made consecutive crisp passes that led to the scoring chance. Shine in particular made a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone through three defenders to Elkins who skated into Moose territory before taking a shot in the left circle that deflected off of Comrie’s stick and into the roof of the net for the 2-1 lead.
The Griffins added a goal in the second period with 5:59 left. The power play goal was scored by Axel Holmstrom when he tried to make a centering pass to Matthew Ford in front of the crease. The puck was deflected by Ford’s defender over Comrie’s left glove and into the net. The play was manufactured when Evgeny Svechnikov made a decisive pass from the right circle to a waiting Holmstrom in the left circle.
Holmstrom added his second goal of the game 2:34 into the final frame in dramatic fashion. With a centering pass from the Griffins captain, the Swede native lost control of the puck in front of the net. However, he quickly regained possession at the right edge of the trapezoid behind the net and let off a quick shot at the oddest angle possible. The puck bounced off of Comrie’s left leg, hit the post, caromed off of his back, and into the net for the 4-1 lead.
Dylan McIlrath padded the lead to four with his fourth goal of the campaign. Holmstrom corralled the puck in the right corner of the Manitoba zone and passed it to McIlrath at the blue line. The Winnipeg native took a snap shot that floated between four players and into the net past a screened Comrie for a final score of 5-1.
Comrie pushed aside 26 pucks in a losing effort while Coreau made 32-of-33 saves for his 13th victory of the season.
Notes: Four Griffins had multipoint games…Each team had four power play opportunities.
Three Stars: 1. GR Holmstrom (two goals, assist); 2. GR Coreau (W, 32 saves); 3. GR Russo (two assists)