BELLEVILLE, Ontario — In the first-ever matchup between the Belleville Senators and the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Senators notched two first-period goals within one minute to establish an early lead over Grand Rapids that eventually led them to a 5-3 win at CAA Arena on Friday night.
Three times Grand Rapids cut its deficit to one, but Belleville (4-4-0-0) never relinquished control of the game as five different players tallied goals. Despite the addition of Christoffer Ehn and Filip Hronek to the lineup, Grand Rapids (2-5-0-0) struggled to overcome the early deficit, giving up one shorthanded goal and finishing 1-for-5 on the power play.
The teams will close out their two-game series in Belleville tomorrow night at 7 p.m. before Grand Rapids returns to Van Andel Arena to host the Iowa Wild and Milwaukee Admirals next Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Senators kicked off scoring just six seconds into a power play with a goal at 5:56 in the first period courtesy of Nick Paul. Exactly one minute later, Belleville extended its lead to 2-0 after Adam Tambellini’s one-timer from the right circle.
The Senators had a chance to score for a third time when a penalty shot was issued to Chase Balisy at 9:07, but goaltender Harri Sateri stuffed the attempt to keep Belleville’s lead at two. Soon after the save, Turner Elson cut the Griffins’ deficit in half at 10:29 off a shot near the blue line with the assistance of Brian Lashoff and Hronek.
Stuart Percy tacked on another goal for the Senators after taking advantage of an odd-man rush at 8:12 in the second period, restoring Belleville’s two-goal lead.
But the Griffins cut the lead again with the help of Matt Ford and Jake Chelios. Chelios sent the puck to Ford from behind the blue line, allowing Ford to capitalize on a breakaway opportunity just past the halfway point in the frame to make it 3-2.
At 14:38, Grand Rapids had its fifth power play opportunity of the night and a chance to tie the game after Erik Burgdoerfer was sent to the penalty box for slashing. However, it was Patrick Sieloff who scored, notching a shorthanded goal at 15:11 to instead increase Belleville’s lead.
The back-and-forth goal scoring continued less than a minute later, as Axel Holmstrom tipped in the Griffins’ first power play goal of the night off a shot from Libor Sulak at 16:03.
A goal at 3:51 in the third frame ended the night’s scoring. Ben Sexton intercepted a pass behind Sateri’s net and sent the puck to Balisy out front, who tucked it in to finalize the 5-3 score in favor of Belleville.
Sateri finished the night with 22 saves, while Mike McKenna notched 31 for the win.
Notes: Belleville marked the 52nd different road city and CAA Arena is the 63rd different road venue the Griffins have competed in since the franchise’s inception in 1996...Balisy’s unsuccessful penalty shot attempt in the first period was the first by a Griffins opponent since Alex Broadhurst on Jan. 21, 2017 vs. CLE (no goal).
Three Stars: 1. BEL Sieloff (shorthanded goal, assist); 2. BEL Percy (goal, assist); 3. BEL Sexton (two assists)