GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Rookie Filip Zadina notched his third two-goal game of the season and Patrik Rybar continued his run of strong outings by making 29 saves, as the duo led the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday in their annual School Day Game at Van Andel Arena. Zadina’s first- and third-period tallies give him six on the season, second only to Chris Terry’seight on the team, while Rybar extended his point streak to four games (3-0-1) while lowering his goals against average to 1.97 and raising his save percentage to 0.920. The Griffins (7-6-0-1), who are 3-0-0-1 in their last four home games and 5-1-0-1 in their last seven overall, will continue their four-game homestand on Friday when the Ontario Reign – and former Grand Rapids head coach Mike Stothers – pay their first-ever visit to West Michigan at 7 p.m. Rockford penalties presented the Griffins with three power play chances in the opening 10 minutes, and the home team capitalized on the IceHogs’ third transgression to claim the lead. Off a Vili Saarijarvi feed from the left point, Zadina launched a one-timer in the right circle that blew past the glove of Collin Delia at 10:57. Grand Rapids’ fourth try with the man-advantage, early in the second period, resulted in two breakaway chances for the IceHogs that ended in similar, unsuccessful fashion. Collecting a bouncing puck at the Griffins’ blue line, Nick Moutrey skated in and scooped a backhand that deflected off the crossbar and out of play. Then, at the expiration of Anthony Louis’ penalty, he walked out of the box unmarked, waited for a long pass at the line, sped in and fired a shot off Rybar’s right post. A high-sticking call during a subsequent Griffins power play awarded Rockford yet another shorthanded scoring chance, this one a penalty shot, but Rybar stood his ground against Jacob Nilsson to deny a wrist shot with his blocker before securing the bobbling puck. Nilsson, though, eventually put Rockford on the board with 50 seconds remaining in the middle frame, as he whipped a shot into the top of the net from the left circle, off a drop pass by Nathan Noel. Zadina’s second goal put the Griffins ahead 2-1 at the 3:41 mark of the third. Taking a pass from Christoffer Ehn along the right boards at the red line, the first-rounder cut to the middle through traffic and ripped a shot inside the right post from the high slot. Zadina nearly sealed a hat trick with just over six minutes remaining, but his snap shot from the left side clanged off the far iron behind Delia. The IceHogs (8-5-1-2) pulled their netminder for an extra attacker with 100 seconds remaining, and after Grand Rapids thwarted several Rockford chances in its own end, Turner Elson scored into the empty net at 19:46 to account for the final margin. Delia stopped 31 of 33 shots in defeat.
Notes: The Griffins improved to 12-5-0-1 in their annual matinee game, with wins in three straight and five of their last seven afternoon affairs at home…Attendance was 7,452, bolstered by approximately four thousand local students and teachers…Derek King, the former Griffins great, logged his first game at Van Andel Arena as a head coach, as the IceHogs elevated him from assistant coach last week following Jeremy Colliton’s promotion to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Three Stars: 1. GR Zadina (two goals); 2. GR Rybar (W, 29 saves); 3. RFD Delia (L, 31 saves)