GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins extended their season-high point streak to five games (4-0-0-1) with a 4-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Friday night at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins (18-19-2-3) have reached the halfway point of their season-high eight-game homestand with a record of 3-0-0-1 and have taken sole ownership of fifth place in the Central Division, one point behind the Texas Stars. Captain Matthew Ford skated in his 700th AHL game and earned two points (1-1—2). Pat Nagle made 21 saves – marking his third straight start allowing two goals or less – for his second victory of the season.
The Griffins’ home stretch will continue Saturday when they host the Belleville Senators for the first time this season at 7 p.m.
Rockford (19-19-1-1) struck first with 8:05 remaining in the opening period. Nagle’s clearing attempt was picked off by MacKenzie Entwistle along the right boards and he fired a wrist shot that floated underneath the glove of the netminder.
The Griffins responded at the 14:11 mark when Dominik Shine tallied his third goal of the season and first of two points of the evening. A nice give-and-go between Ford and Shine made room down the left boards. Shine skated into the faceoff circle and rifled a shot that sailed into the right corner of the net.
Grand Rapids enjoyed four minutes of power-play time at 6:15 in the second frame but were held scoreless. The IceHogs posted one shot in the opening 10 minutes of the frame but Lankinen and the defense held true by stopping eight Grand Rapids attempts, including Matt Puempel’s that nicked off the post.
The Griffins broke through and grabbed the lead with 3:07 left in the period when Chase Pearson jammed a rebound home for his fifth of the year. Shine fired a pass toward the crease and Tyler Spezia redirected the puck on net that was saved, but Pearson’s rebound from close range snuck past the right skate of Lankinen.
Ford made it a 3-1 advantage for the Griffins when his power-play goal found the net at the 10:23 mark of the third period. Joe Hicketts rifled a wrist shot from the blue line through multiple players that was saved by Lankinen. The rebound fell to Ford’s stick just outside the crease and his backhanded shot found its way into the left corner of the goal.
Rockford pulled its netminder with 2:50 remaining and nine seconds later the Griffins made them regret that decision when they scored an empty-net tally. Michael Rasmussen found Chris Terry in the middle of the Griffins’ zone and Terry smashed the puck the length of the ice for his team-high 16th goal of the campaign to give Grand Rapids the 4-1 victory.
Notes: Grand Rapids outshot Rockford 37-22…The Griffins went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and have now killed off 17 straight penalties against the IceHogs and have gone 23-for-24 in the season series…Grand Rapids’ power play went 1-for-4.
Three Stars: 1. GR Ford (goal, assist); 2. GR Shine (goal, assist); 3. GR Nagle (W, 21 saves)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]