GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Eric Tangradi scored in his return to the Grand Rapids Griffins after signing a one-year contract 90 minutes before the opening faceoff, but the Rockford IceHogs rallied for a 2-1 shootout victory on Friday at Van Andel Arena.
Tangradi, a member of Grand Rapids’ 2017 Calder Cup championship team who began this season by playing for Astana Barys of the Kontinental Hockey League, helped ensure that the Griffins’ six-game losing streak in regulation came to an end by scoring his 77th career goal as a Griffin early in the second period. But the goaltending duel between Calvin Pickard and Collin Delia was decided in Rockford’s favor when the IceHogs prevailed 2-0 in the skills competition.
After earning a point, the Griffins (9-13-1-2) will begin a six-game road swing to California and Iowa on Wednesday when they visit the San Diego Gulls for a 10 p.m. EST faceoff. Grand Rapids won’t play another home game until Dec. 27.
Following a scoreless opening period, Tangradi announced his return in style by scoring 4:24 into the middle frame. After his centering pass from the left corner was deflected to the end boards, he quickly intercepted a pass below the goal line, cut to the front of the net and shoveled a backhand past Delia from just outside the paint for the eighth unassisted tally of his Grand Rapids career, tying him with Jeff Hoggan and Landon Ferraro for third place in franchise history.
IceHogs brothers Dylan and Tyler Sikura joined forces to knot the score with 2:53 left before intermission. A contested puck came off the right half-wall to Tyler at the faceoff dot, and his deft touch pass provided an opening for Dylan to whip a top-shelf shot into the near corner of Pickard’s net.
The game eventually progressed to overtime largely to the credit of Pickard, who denied 14 Rockford shots in the third period and totaled 32 saves on the night. Thirty seconds into the extra session, he denied a breakaway chance by Brandon Hagel, but Hagel drew a tripping penalty on Brian Lashoff after retrieving his rebound in the left corner, weaving through several Griffins and eventually falling down in the slot.
Grand Rapids killed that penalty and received a power play of its own with 1:19 remaining after Philip Holm cross-checked Chris Terry into the back of the net. Terry’s mouth hit the iron and he dropped to the ice, but after a Griffins timeout he was back to take the ensuing draw. The Griffins controlled the puck in the Rockford zone for the duration of overtime but could only manage two Terry shots against Delia.
In the shootout, Matt Puempel and Taro Hirose failed to solve the Rockford netminder, while Pickard denied Dylan Sikura before ceding goals to Tim Soderlund and Joseph Cramarossa.
Delia made 28 saves for Rockford (13-8-0-1), which went 0-for-5 on the power play. Grand Rapids finished 0-for-3.
Notes: Puempel returned to Grand Rapids’ lineup after missing the last seven games due to injury, but Michael Rasmussen missed his 10th straight contest…Just before the game, the Griffins assigned forward Tyler Spezia to Toledo (ECHL) and released defenseman Brandon Anselmini from his PTO, returning him to the Walleye as well…The specially designed jerseys worn by the Griffins as part of their fifth annual Red Kettle Game were auctioned to fans afterward, with proceeds benefiting The Salvation Army.
Three Stars: 1. RFD Delia (SOW, 28 saves); 2. GR Pickard (SOL, 32 saves); 3. GR Tangradi (goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]