TUCSON, Ariz. – Two first period goals from Eric Tangradi set the tone early for the Grand Rapids Griffins as they defeated the Tucson Roadrunners, 4-1, on Saturday night at Tucson Convention Center Arena.
Tonight’s result combined with Milwaukee’s 5-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves clinched a2018 Calder Cup Playoff berth for the Griffins.
Grand Rapids (40-25-1-7) is back in action on Wednesday against the Texas Stars at 8:30 p.m. EDT from the H-E-B Center. Tucson (39-20-5-1) leads the Pacific Division by 38 percentage points.
Tangradi put the Griffins on the board first with a backdoor goal at the 4:05 mark of the first period. Ben Street made the slick feed from the left boards to an open Tangradi who put it past a helpless Hunter Miska for his 30th goal and the 1-0 lead.
More than five minutes later, at 9:39, Tangradi added his second goal of the game.Matthew Ford made the quick pass to Tangradi from the left circle to the left side of the crease. The Griffins’ leading scorer swiftly slipped the puck past Miska and a defender for the power play tally and two-goal cushion.
With 6:53 left in the first period, Lawson Crouse scored from the slot for his 12th goal of the year. Carter Camper forced a turnover in the Grand Rapids zone and found a wide open Crouse in front of the net to cut the lead to one goal.
Just 52 seconds into the second frame, Turner Elson tallied his ninth goal of the season. The fifth-year pro made a big play on the forecheck after crashing into his man, taking the puck, and snapping a quick shot into the upper left corner of the net.
At the 10:00 mark of the second stanza, Dan Renouf potted his first goal of the 2017-18 campaign. He took the shot near the top of the left circle after a cross-ice pass from Joe Hicketts near the right ring prompting a goaltender change by the Roadrunners.
Adin Hill finished the game in net for Tucson, making five saves on five shots. Tom McCollum finished with 22 saves for his seventh win in his last eight starts.
The Griffins finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Tucson went 0-for-2.
Three Stars: 1. GR Tangradi (two goals); 2. GR McCollum (W, 22 saves); 3. GR Renouf (goal)