ROCKFORD, Ill. – Tyler Spezia netted the game-winner with 11:16 to play as the Grand Rapids Griffins extended their winning streak to three contests and took sole ownership of third place in the Central Division with a 2-1 win against the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
After a scoreless opening period, Grand Rapids (25-22-3-4) struck first when Dennis Cholowski tallied his third goal of the year and moved his point streak to four games (1-4—5). However, the IceHogs (25-26-1-2) knotted the contest heading into the final frame before Spezia took home the game-winner. Pat Nagle earned his fourth consecutive victory behind 27 saves and now has a record of 6-1 in his last eight outings. The Griffins have points in 14 of their last 17 games (11-3-1-2).
The Griffins will conclude their three-game road trip when they travel back to Chicago to take on the Wolves on Thursday at 12 p.m. EST.
Grand Rapids created the best chance of the first period when Kyle Wood hammered a shot from the right point that found its way into the net. However, Michael Rasmussen was called for goaltender interference and the goal was waved off.
The second frame began with a handful of penalties for each team as three Griffins players and four players from Rockford headed to the box after a scrum broke out 50 seconds in. That seemed to be the theme of the period as there were 32 minutes of penalty time recorded.
The Griffins got on the board at the 5:15 mark when Cholowski fired a laser that crept underneath the crossbar. Halfway into the Rockford zone along the right boards, Evgeny Svechnikov snuck a pass to the left circle toward Cholowski. Cholowski’s wrist shot sped through traffic and over the shoulder of Collin Delia. Svechnikov’s helper extended his point streak to five games (5-3—8).
Grand Rapids controlled much of the period but the IceHogs were able to tie the game with 6:16 remaining in the second. Dylan Sikura from the high slot sent a pass to Lucas Carlsson who skated into the left circle. Carlsson smashed an attempt over the blocker of Nagle for his fifth tally of the year.
The Griffins once again dominated the final frame, outshooting Rockford 20-9. The game-winning goal came at the 8:44 mark when Spezia made a crafty move on the goaltender and netted his fifth of the season. From the right circle, Dominik Shine sent the puck to Spezia in the middle of the zone. Spezia skated past Delia and backhanded a shot that slipped into the right corner to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead.
Shine was called for roughing with 2:04 remaining and the IceHogs pulled Delia for a 6-on-4 power play. However, the Griffins were up for the task and killed off their 23rd straight penalty against Rockford to take the victory. In fact, the IceHogs have gone only 1-for-30 on the power play during the season series.
Notes: Grand Rapids outshot Rockford 40-28…The Griffins power play went 0-for-3 while the penalty kill went 6-for-6…Jarid Lukosevicius’s two-game goal streak (2-0—2) ended…Chase Pearson saw his two-game assist streak (0-4—4) come to an end.
Three Stars: 1. GR Spezia (game-winner); 2. RFD Carlsson (goal); 3. GR Cholowski (goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]