[From the Griffins]
ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Grand Rapids Griffins are coming home to Van Andel Arena with two straight wins after evening their record with a 3-1 triumph over the Rockford IceHogs on Thursday at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Taro Hirose, fresh off his reassignment from the Detroit Red Wings’ taxi squad on Sunday, earned first star honors with assists on the Griffins’ first two goals, while Kevin Boyle had to make only 12 saves to earn his first victory in a Grand Rapids uniform.
After outshooting Rockford 12-5 in the first period with nothing to show for it, the Griffins struck first during a power play 4:33 into the middle frame. From the blue line, Dennis Cholowski threw the puck toward the net, where Michael Rasmussen was camping out to tip it past Matt Tomkins.
Former Detroit draft pick Alec Regula tied the score 11 minutes later, as he cleaned up a loose puck and put it past Boyle for his first pro goal just four seconds after a penalty to Givani Smith expired.
In the third, nine seconds after rookie Donovan Sebrango dropped the gloves with Riley McKay for his first pro fight, Riley Barber lowered the boom at 7:13 to notch his second straight game-winning goal, sniping a shot into the far corner from the right hashmarks off a feed from Hirose. A Chase Pearson empty-netter with 2:01 remaining sealed the victory.
• The 13 shots surrendered by the Griffins in the game were one more than the franchise record for fewest allowed. Two decades ago they held visiting Hershey (Oct. 13, 2001) and host Houston (March 31, 2000) to just a dozen shots each in shutout victories.
• The IceHogs are winless in their first five games for the first time in franchise history.
• Smith, Hirose and Dylan McIlrath all made their Griffins season debut after coming down from Detroit’s earlier this week.
• Saturday’s 4 p.m. home opener versus Cleveland will be televised throughout West Michigan on WXSP-TV.
Grand Rapids 0 1 2 - 3
Rockford 0 1 0 - 1
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Barber Gr (tripping), 8:25; McLaughlin Rfd (holding), 10:46; Hakkarainen Rfd (high-sticking), 14:04.
2nd Period-1, Grand Rapids, Rasmussen 1 (Cholowski, Hirose), 4:33 (PP). 2, Rockford, Regula 1 (G. Mitchell, Krys), 13:34. Penalties-Barratt Rfd (slashing), 3:31; Smith Gr (tripping), 11:30; Smith Gr (holding), 14:09.
3rd Period-3, Grand Rapids, Barber 2 (Hirose, Cholowski), 7:13. 4, Grand Rapids, Pearson 1 (Smith, McIlrath), 17:59 (EN). Penalties-Sebrango Gr (fighting), 7:04; McKay Rfd (fighting), 7:04; Phillips Rfd (delay of game), 7:49; Lindstrom Gr (roughing), 12:43; Cholowski Gr (holding), 13:47.
Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 12-5-12-29. Rockford 5-2-6-13.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 1 / 4; Rockford 0 / 5.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Boyle 1-1-0 (13 shots-12 saves). Rockford, Tomkins 0-3-1 (28 shots-26 saves).
1. GR Hirose (two assists); 2. GR Cholowski (two assists); 3. GR Barber (game-winning goal)
Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 2-2-0-0 (4 pts.) / Sat., Feb. 20 vs. Cleveland 4 p.m.
Rockford: 0-4-1-0 (1 pt.) / Mon., Feb. 22 vs. Cleveland 6 p.m. CST