GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Behind a shared shutout by Troy Grosenick and Connor Ingram, the Milwaukee Admirals strengthened their hold on first place in the Central Division and became the first AHL team to eclipse 50 points on the season with a 3-0 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins (12-16-2-2) had their chances over the course of 60 minutes, outshooting their rivals by a 34-31 margin, but Milwaukee (23-4-3-2) posted its second straight whitewash in the series following a 5-0 win at Panther Arena on Nov. 23. The Admirals have now won four of five meetings this season, with a 15-6 goal differential.
After playing their first home game in three weeks following a western road trip in which they posted a 3-2-1-0 record, the Griffins will pay a visit to the Admirals’ barn on Saturday at 7 p.m. EST before hosting Chicago on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for their 23rd annual New Year’s Eve game.
Making his fifth appearance of the season between the Griffins’ pipes, Pat Nagle helped his team hold strong during an early push by the Admirals, stopping a breakaway try by Eeli Tolvanen five minutes in to mark his sixth save of the young contest. But Milwaukee’s persistence paid off at the 13:02 mark when Matt Donovan’s shot from the point beat the screened netminder low to the stick side, and the Admirals eventually skated off with that 1-0 cushion despite Grand Rapids’ 15-14 advantage in shots.
An odd bounce off the end boards midway through the second period gifted Milwaukee a 2-0 lead, as Mathieu Olivier stuffed the puck inside the left post from below the goal line before Nagle could slide across. The Griffins’ deficit grew late in the period, shortly after Evgeny Svechnikov was whistled off for interfering with Grosenick, who subsequently left the game with a presumed injury after stopping all 21 shots he faced. Ingram entered as the understudy, and 32 seconds later reigning AHL MVP Daniel Carr exacted revenge in the form of a power play goal, slamming home a backdoor one-timer from the bottom of the right circle at 18:01.
Grosenick, who was working toward his second straight shutout of the Griffins after making 20 saves in that Admirals win in Wisconsin just over a month ago, has stopped 79 of 80 Grand Rapids shots this season, good for a microscopic 0.38 goals against average and a hefty 0.988 save percentage in the series.
Ingram proved to be as stout as Grosenick over the final 22-plus minutes, turning aside 13 shots to put a seal on the Admirals’ 23rd win of the campaign, which ties Tucson for the most in the AHL. Nagle, meanwhile, made 28 saves but remains winless (0-3-1) as a Griffin this season despite a 2.45 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage.
Milwaukee, owner of a 13-point lead over second-place Iowa in the division, finished 1-for-4 on the power play and denied each of Grand Rapids’ three chances.
Notes: The Griffins have been on the short end of only three shared shutouts in their 24 seasons, and Grosenick played a part in two of them. Jeff Reese (1 save) and Rich Parent (19) led the IHL’s Vipers to a 5-0 win in Detroit on March 30, 1997, and Grosenick (4) and former Griffin Tom McCollum (20) teamed up earlier this year in the Admirals’ 5-0 victory in Milwaukee on April 13.
Three Stars: 1. MIL Donovan (power play goal, assist); 2. MIL Grosenick (W, 21 saves); 3. MIL Olivier (goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]