GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins learned a hard lesson during their annual school day game, surrendering a 2-0 lead and a franchise-record three shorthanded goals to the Cleveland Monsters in an eventual 5-3 loss on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins, who only twice in their 24 seasons had allowed even two shorthanded goals in a single home game, seized a 3-2 advantage early in the third but saw the Monsters tie it minutes later before Zac Dalpe provided the game-winner midway through the period with Cleveland’s third undermanned goal of the afternoon.
Grand Rapids (5-5-1-1), which had a four-game home point streak snapped, fell to 0-3-1-0 in its last four outings overall. The Griffins will look to recapture their early-season magic this Friday and Saturday when the Toronto Marlies pay their first visits to Van Andel Arena in nearly four years. Game time each night is 7 p.m.
The Griffins’ fourth line produced the game’s first goal 7:22 into the opening period. With Cleveland netminder Matiss Kivlenieks out of position after challenging a Matthew Ford shot that went wide, Dominik Shine collected the carom off the end boards along the left goal line and sent a pass into the paint to Chase Pearson for a backdoor tap-in into the vacated net.
An elbowing major to Doyle Somerby at 14:46 of the period presented the Griffins with a five-minute power play, and Chris Terry cashed in by one-timing a Matt Puempel feed at the right hashmarks to make it a 2-0 contest with 2:42 remaining. But Cleveland scored its first shorthanded goal 57 seconds later to trim its deficit back to one, as Eric Robinson raced up the left side to grab a loose puck then cut toward the net and lifted a backhand over Calvin Pickard’s catching glove.
The Monsters struck during another Grand Rapids power play to knot the score at 13:12 of the second frame. A turnover during a Griffins breakout resulted in a 2-on-1 the other way, and from the right side Nathan Gerbe threw the puck across to Stefan Matteau for a redirection on the doorstep and a 2-2 game.
It marked just the eighth time in franchise history that the Griffins surrendered two shorthanded goals in a single game – the last occurring on March 8, 2017 at Texas – and just the third time at home (11/16/16 vs. Texas; 10/27/06 vs. Toronto, including one empty-netter).
Eleven-year Griffin Brian Lashoff pushed the home squad back into the lead 1:10 into the third by intercepting a puck along the boards at the left point, striding to the top of the circle and hammering a slap shot past Kivlenieks. But the Monsters again pulled even at the 5:37 mark when Adam Clendening pounced on a loose puck in the high slot and blasted it into the top right corner.
Dalpe scored the Monsters’ third shorthanded goal – equaling their record for most scored in one game – at 9:47 to put the visitors ahead for the first time at 4-3. Off a faceoff in the Cleveland zone, Puempel immediately incurred a double-minor for high-sticking, but play continued on a delayed penalty with the Monsters in possession of the puck, and Dalpe eventually snapped a shot home from the right circle for the go-ahead marker. Matteau then added his second goal into an empty net with 39 seconds left.
Now on a six-game point streak, the Monsters (8-3-0-1) finished 0-for-3 on the power play but scored on three of the Griffins’ seven power plays, during which Grand Rapids managed just one goal of its own. Kivlenieks earned the win behind 23 saves while Pickard stopped 20 of 24 in the loss.
Note: The last time an AHL team scored three shorthanded goals was Dec. 28, 2018, when Syracuse beat Utica 10-1…The Griffins, who had won their matinee game each of the last years, fell to 12-6-0-1 in their annual event.
Three Stars: 1. CLE Dalpe (game-winning goal); 2. CLE Clendening (game-tying goal); 3. GR Terry (power play goal)