SAN ANTONIO – The Grand Rapids Griffins won their sixth consecutive game against the San Antonio Rampage as they started the new year with a 5-3 victory on Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The Griffins (14-17-2-2) enjoyed a two-goal advantage heading into the final period before San Antonio scored its first goal just 41 seconds in. The Rampage (12-14-5-4) netted three goals in the third but Grand Rapids matched them with three tallies of its own to secure the victory.
Grand Rapids will continue its four-game road trip when they travel to take on the Texas Stars on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.
The Griffins got on the board 3:23 into the first frame when Chase Pearson netted his fourth goal of the season. Pearson won a faceoff and skated from the right wing toward the top of the crease and his initial shot was saved by Ville Husso. Evgeny Svechnikov jammed another shot at Husso that was blocked before Pearson finished what he started and snuck the puck past the right skate of the netminder.
Grand Rapids dominated much of the first as they posted a 17-9 shot advantage and continued its momentum in the second, scoring 1:17 into the frame. Dylan McIlrath, on the right boards, fired a puck from the blue line that found Tyler Spezia in the middle of the zone. Spezia hammered a shot under Husso for his first of two in the contest.
San Antonio’s offense started to heat up near the end of the period when they received a 5-on-3 power play that spilled into the final frame. With just four seconds left on the power play, Nathan Walker tallied his 16th goal of the year 41 seconds into the third. Mitch Reinke zipped a puck from the left circle to Walker at the right goalpost and Walker’s shot sailed into the top right corner of the net.
The Griffins made it a 3-1 game when Spezia scored his third of the year at the 2:50 mark. Chris Terry skated through the Rampage’s zone and his shot was blocked, but he gathered the puck behind the net and found Spezia between the circles. Spezia’s one-timer flew into the left corner to regain the two-goal lead.
Grand Rapids continued to put pressure on the Rampage’s defense and scored its fourth of the game with 10:45 remaining. Blake Hillman sent a pass from the left circle to the top of the crease where Ryan Kuffner backhanded the puck past the out-stretched glove of Husso.
San Antonio responded 27 seconds later when Mike Vecchione scored his 16th of the year to make it a 4-2 contest. Austin Poganski weaved his way down the right boards and centered the puck in front of the net where Vecchione’s one-timer beat the blocker of Calvin Pickard.
The Rampage pulled Husso for an extra attacker with 3:30 left in regulation, which turned into multiple chances for San Antonio. Klim Kostin made it a one-goal game with 35 seconds left to play when he netted his sixth of the season. Joey LaLeggia sent the puck from the right wing to Kostin at the bottom of the left circle. Kostin’s one-timer slid through the five-hole of Pickard, which made for a hectic finish to the contest.
With just one second remaining, Turner Elson scored his fifth of the year to give the Griffins a 5-3 victory. Pearson sent a pass from the left post through the crease to Elson on the right side of the net. Elson ripped a wrist shot that sailed over the glove of Husso for the game’s final tally.
Notes: The Griffins are now 5-2-1-0 in their last eight outings on foreign ice…Grand Rapids’ power play went 0-for-4 while the penalty kill went 1-for-3…Pickard made 40 saves in the win…Dominik Shine skated in his first game back after missing the last two due to injury.
Three Stars: 1. GR Spezia (two goals); 2. GR Terry (two assists); 3. SA Pouliot (two assists)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]