Shootout Loss can’t Dampen the Return of Tango
Griffins fall 2-1 in Shootout Loss...
December 6th, 2019
A familiar player was wearing number 26 during the pregame warmups, as word spread quickly that the Griffins had re-signed star winger Eric Tangradi. The Calder cup champion scored the Griffins only goal and brought a whole new level of energy and grit that had been sorely missing from the lineup. The only thing about the storybook night that didn’t go according to plan was dropping the skills competition at the end of the game to settle for a 2-1 loss to the visiting Rockford IceHogs.
The Griffins came out with a lot of jump and the Van was loud, showing their appreciation for the return of Tango. GR with an early powerplay, but Givani Smith took a borderline penalty to even the sides up at four apiece. Tangradi scrumming in the corners and providing plenty of energy as well as a couple of grade A scoring chances. The team is playing bigger and the physical play has really ramped up. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Rock 7.
Tangradi crashed the net for a point-blank chance, then involved in the middle of a scrum after the whistle. IceHogs with a breakaway, but Moritz Seider closed and made a great play to reach around and sweep the puck away. Tangradi in front banged home the puck five-hole for his 1st of the season and a 1-0 lead. Brian Lashoff with a big shot that hit Delia in the mask and stung him. Seider jumped high into the air to bat down a clearing attempt and was hit and fell awkwardly. He took exception to the hit and handed out a few cross-checks for good measure. Rockford’s Hagel ran down Pickard in the creasing, setting up a Griffins powerplay. Late in the period, Sikura scored to knot the game at one. Hicketts getting roughed up behind the play, and Tangradi the first person over to help out. Dominik Shine smoked Highmore at the whistle which drew a crowd. Shots on goal: GR 12 -Rock 9.
Joe Hicketts blocked a shot right by the net and was hurt. The gritty vet stayed down for a bit, and then managed to limp his way to the bench and straight down the tunnel to the room. Seider also missing from the GR bench as they are down to four defenders. Hicketts eventually returned, but Seider did not. Griffins with a scoring chance on the light came on, but it was immediately waived off. Great save by Pickard in close. Joe Veleno blocked a shot and was hurt, he stayed in the play until the puck was cleared but was clearly laboring. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - Rock 14.
Three on-three overtime
Hirose dispy-doddling with the puck and turned it over. He chased his man in vain, but Pickard made the first save and Lashoff took him down to stop the second. Rockford powerplay 4-on-3. Rockford had several nice chances, but the Griffins killed off the penalty and Lashoff out of the box swooped in to pick up the puck and start the rush. Holm cross-checked Chris Terry to the ice to the side of the net giving the Griffins a late man-advantage. A couple of great chances by GR and then Terry stroked a shot past Delia just after the buzzer - no goal. Shots on Goal: GR 2 - Rock 3. For the Game: GR 29 - Rock 34.
Delia was hurt on the last play of the game but stayed out for the shootout. Dylan Sikura went first for the Ice Hogs, speeding in and then ripping a shot wide, glove-side. Matt Puempel cut in from the side with speed from left to right and sniped a shot that beat Delia but hit the crossbar and stayed out. Soderland skated in on Pickard and ripped a shot through the Griffins netminder under his arm glove side. Taro Hirose skated in super slow, made a little move and then fired the puck wide. Cramarossa Put a low shot on Pickard that he stopped but fell over and dragged the puck into the net to give the IceHogs a shootout win 2-1.
#15 Elson - #26 ERIC TANGRADI - #37 Svechnikov
#73 Puempel - #23 Turgeon - #25 Terry
#17 TARO HIROSE - #90 Veleno - #54 Smith
#55 Matt Ford - #22 Pearson - #65 Shine
#18 Lashoff - #5 Lindstrom
#2 Hicketts - #53 Seider
#7 Kaski - #29 McCrea
Starter: #31 Pickard
Backup: #35 PAT NAGLE
#14 Lukosevicius - Injured
#27 Rasmussen - Injured
#26 Tangradi - #90 Veleno - #37 Svechnikov
#53 Seider - #55 Ford
#54 Smith - #73 Puempel - #25 Terry
#2 Hicketts - #17 Hirose
#22 Pearson - #15 Elson
#18 Lashoff - #5 Lindstrom/#29 McCrea
#54 Smith - #55 Ford
#53 Seider - #5 Lindstrom
The return of Tangradi is huge for this team, as they have been missing the fire, physicality and intensity that he brings. His leadership in the room will also be a big addition, and I can’t wait to see what Givani Smith will learn from his tutelage. The team also followed his lead in playing much more physical, something they have not done much of since McIlrath was summoned to Detroit. One of the key elements missing from this Griffins team for most of the season has been the sandpaper and grit. The lone winning streak GR enjoyed earlier in the year came after the insertion of Dom Shine, Jarid Lukosevicius and Gregor MacLeod who provided that blue collar game. When Lukosevicius and MacLeod went out of the lineup with injuries, the team was sorely lacking grit.
Calvin Pickard turned in a pretty good game, making up for a slightly shaky outing on Wednesday. He was clearly angry on the game winning goal in the shootout, as he had made the initial save and dragged it into his own net. The truth is we probably still would have lost even if that goal stayed out.
Hopefully Moritz Seider’s absence from the bench for the third period was precautionary and doesn’t signal a long-term absence from the lineup. He played another very good game, and is starting to come into his own, using his size to his advantage.
Taro Hirose was less than impressive for the second game in a row. For a player with his offensive skill set and creativity, he seemed very content to play on the perimeter and avoid the physical play getting close to the net. While I will cut him a certain amount of slack for having to get used to new teammates and a new league, I really expected more from him.