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Griffins fall to Moose 5-1, bumped from Calder Cup Playoffs

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Grand Rapids Griffins

The odds were stacked against the Grand Rapids Griffins going into Monday night’s winner-take-all game five. Even more so that they would be without one of their top scoring players in Eric Tangradi, who was serving a one-game suspension handed down to him following game four. This was a team already banged up and without other key players. When you add in that Manitoba was getting Buddy Robinson back, the match-up just wasn’t in favor of the Griffins.

But no excuses — that’s what captain Matt Ford had to say. The team believed they had a good enough line to take this game, and at times, they showed that. It was defensive miscues that would doom the Griffins hopes of making another run at a Calder Cup title. Manitoba was all over it, and it made for a disappointing performance for the home team.


Both teams were well-rested, seeing that there was an awkward break between game four and game five. It definitely took some time for a few players to get their legs under them. The Griffins didn't look great in their own zone. They got hemmed in a couple of times, made some sloppy plays, but they didn’t end up on the scoresheet. The Moose got on the board first. This was a goofy play — Filip Hronek had a fumble on the blue line, which turned into a two-on-one. Buddy Robinson fed the puck to Patrice Cormier, and he got Jared Coreau with a backhand shelf move.

In the final 10 minutes, the ice began opening up. The Moose took a penalty, and the Griffins pounced on the chance almost immediately. Matt Puempel picked up the power-play tally, but the entire play was due to a fantastic effort by Hronek. He kept the puck in the offensive zone to set it all up. He didn’t get an assist, but he had a huge part in the goal.

The Griffins would get another power-play, but the Moose boxed them out, keeping the Griffins off the board. At the end of 20 minutes, the score was tied at one a piece. Griffins have the edge in shots 11-10.

The second period had a quiet start. About seven minutes in, Turner Elson and Evgeny Svechnikov had a huge chance with a two-on-one — Elson put it right on Svechnikov’s tape, but he sailed it over the net.

Another observation that I’ve made is Jared Coreau’s decision-making with playing the puck in this game. He’s had a couple of close calls with a heavy forecheck. At around 12 minutes, Dominik Shine went off for boarding, and one minute later, Brendan Lemieux went off for high-sticking. Lemieux had some complaints with the call, and the crowd gave him a hearty round of boos.

In the closing minutes, Coreau made a huge save with a Moose player on a breakaway. He decided to rip a slap-shot — Coreau made the save. The Moose managed to get on the board in the closing seconds. A flubbed shot ended up right on Cameron Schilling’s stick, and with a wide-open net, he buried it.

The score after 40 minutes stood at 2-1 in favor of the Moose, as well as shots on goal, 23-20.

The third period wasn’t kind to the Griffins. They struggled to find their stride, and Manitoba made them pay. Robbie Russo had a bad play in his own zone that ended up right on Mike Sgarbossa’s doorstep. He buried it past Coreau, and that’s when the wheels began to come off. Minutes later, Brendan Lemieux picked up the dagger to make it 4-1. The Griffins would never come back, and uninspiring play doomed them in the 3rd period. Final: 5-1 — Grand Rapids is eliminated from the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.


All things considered, the Griffins had a great season when you look back to their performance early in the year. There’s a great sense of pride in the locker room, and it really showed Monday night.

The big question now — is what is to come of head coach Todd Nelson. There’s no doubt that teams will be reaching out to interview him. Obviously coach didn’t want to say much after the game, but it’s clear that he’s interested in moving up and getting into the NHL. If I were a betting man, I’d say Nelson very likely ends up in the NHL somewhere. He deserves it at this point.

We heard from a lot of players postgame — here’s what Evgeny Svechnikov, Joe Hicketts, and coach Nelson had to say.