MILWAUKEE – Turner Elson’s game-winner with under two minutes to play helped propel the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-2 victory and a weekend split against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday night at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
The Griffins’ penalty kill was called upon late in the game with less than five minutes to play when Gustav Lindstrom was whistled for interference. The Admirals (23-5-3-2) watched their momentum slip away when they failed to convert on the power play. Grand Rapids (13-16-2-2) regained the lead at 18:02 and neutralized a late push by Milwaukee to secure the win.
Grand Rapids rounds out the 2019 calendar year with a New Year’s Eve date against the Chicago Wolves at 6 p.m. at Van Andel Arena.
The opening five minutes of the game lacked a quality scoring chance for either team. However, the Admirals got on the board first when Rem Pitlick netted his ninth goal of the season at the 8:14 mark.
Miikka Salomaki, from the right boards, slipped a puck through the neutral zone that found Pitlick cruising down the left wing. Pitlick skated into the Griffins’ zone and his wrist shot from the left circle sailed over the glove of Pat Nagle and into the top right corner of the net.
The Griffins tied the game when Matthew Ford tallied his first of two goals in the second period at 9:40. After a save by Nagle, Ford and Taro Hirose skated out on a 2-on-1 break and Hirose sent a puck from the right circle to the center of the Admirals’ zone. Ford secured the pass and made a crafty move to create some space and his shot from just outside the crease smashed into an open net. Rookie Hirose now has nine points (4-5—9) in ten games since being assigned by Detroit on Dec. 3.
Ford scored his sixth goal of the year and second of the period with 3:51 remaining to give the Griffins a 2-1 lead. Kyle Wood fired a shot from the blue line that was blocked by a couple of Milwaukee defenders and right to the skate of Ford. Ford gathered the puck between the circles and from his knees hammered a shot through the five-hole of Connor Ingram.
The Admirals trailed for only 1:12 before they tied the game when Pitlick tallied his second goal of the contest and tenth of the season on a power play. Cole Schneider backhanded a puck from the right side of the net toward the left goalpost and Pitlick was able to rifle the puck into an open net.
The Griffins allowed three shots in the opening 14 minutes of the final frame but the penalty kill was tested in the final five minutes after giving up a power-play goal earlier in the contest. One of the biggest saves of the game came during Lindstrom’s interference minor. Daniel Carr ripped a shot from the center of the zone and Nagle made an acrobatic glove save to keep the game tied. Grand Rapids warded off the infraction and finished the game 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The Griffins netted the game-winner with just 1:58 remaining when Elson scored his fourth of the season. Dennis Cholowski fired a shot from the left boards through traffic toward Elson in front of the net. Elson deflected the puck into the right corner of the goal to give Grand Rapids a 3-2 victory.
Notes: The Griffins outshot Milwaukee 34-25…Nagle finished the contest with 23 saves…Chris Terry skated in his 600th AHL game and 100th Griffins game…Blake Hillman made his career debut for Grand Rapids…The Griffins scored for the first time at Milwaukee since March 16, 2019, stopping a scoring drought that lasted 165:38.
Three Stars: 1. GR Ford (two goals); 2. MIL Pitlick (two goals); 3. MIL Ingram (31 saves)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]