Griffins Open 2014 By Putting Down Wolves 3-1|
McCollum comes up big in win...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 3rd, 2014
The Griffins opened 2014 with a bang, halting a two game losing streak and getting a measure of revenge against the visiting Chicago Wolves who took a 3-2 decision in their last meeting. Thomas McCollum turned in a first star performance, making 27 stops for the win, his 13th of the season. Tomas Jurco scored the game-winner, his 12th, and first since returning from the NHL. Grand Rapids also got tallies from Pulkkinen (12) and Jarnkrok(10) in a fast paced, physical contest.
A couple of good chances early, Pulkkinen in front and then the next shift Jurco stole the puck and played give and go with Ferraro but had one too many passes. Ferraro had a rip from the circle and Sheahan picked up the rebound for a dangerous chance in close. Climie making some huge saves to keep the game scoreless. Callahan with a big chance from the slot, but it hit Climie and stayed out. Tootoo drew a penalty setting up a Griffins powerplay. Nestrasil fed Jarnkrok in the slot for a laser of a shot that went in over Climie's shoulder, stick-side. Shots on Goal: GR 14 - Chi 8.
Triston Grant played the role of wrecking ball, running over everything in a wolves sweater. Evans and Beach having a conversation after the whistle, probably setting the stage for a future confrontation. The Griffins in penalty trouble with two back to back calls and tired penalty killers. Evans and Beach jawing at each other again, but neither dropped the gloves. The pace and intensity keep rising as a shift was punctuated by big hits from Hoggan and Evans. Jurco rang up Edmundson in the corner with a big hit and sent the puck up ice. Pulkkinen stole the puck in the corner and fed Sheahan at the side of the net, but it hit Climie. Shots on Goal: GR 6 - Chi 12.
Almquist didn't tie up his man, Andronov, who centered to Shields for a shorthanded goal. Sheahan threw a hit behind the wolves net that knocked the puck loose for Jurco. Jurco stepped out and backhanded a bad angle shot top shelf for a powerplay goal. Callahan and Mancari with a little chin music but things haven't boiled over yet. Evans smoked Beach into the net after the whistle when he followed the puck a little too closely. Jarnkrok skated by the Wolves bench on the way to his own bench for a line change and was roughed up by Mancari and Jaskin. Callahan came to the aid of his teammate to even things up, and was attacked by the Wolves bench, touching off a huge scrum with multiple combatants. Incredibly Callahan got the extra two minutes.
Frk had a disastrous shift giving the puck away in his own end and then inadvertently kicking the puck at his own net. Grant got called on a blatant interference call setting up another Wolves man-advantage. Ouellet got stung blocking a shot and left the ice cradling his arm. Tootoo tried to go with Bolduc but was pulled off by Edmundson. He engaged in a short but spirited bout that was scored a draw. Climie to the bench for an extra attacker but Ouellet cleared and Pulkkinen won the footrace to the loose puck before firing it into the empty net for a 3-1 margin of victory. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - Chi 8. For the Game: GR 29 - Chi 28.
Hoggan - Jarnkrok - Pulkkinen
Jurco - Sheahan - Ferraro
Callahan - McIntyre - Tootoo
Grant - Nestrasil - Frk
Jensen - Ouellet
Evans - Sproul
Paetsch - Almquist
Jurco - Sheahan - Ferraro
Sproul - Almquist
Hoggan - Nestrasil - Jarnkrok
Pulkkinen - Paetsch
Callahan/McIntyre - Jarnkrok
Evans - Ouellet
Sheahan - Ferraro
Paetsch - Jensen/Almquist
With Marchenko's recall to Detroit, Jensen got a regular spot in the lineup and was even a starter. He played mostly at even strength, though he did get a couple of shifts on the PK and did a good job of blocking shots. He didn't look dynamic, but he also didn't make many glaring mistakes.
Fellow rookie Martin Frk also got a semi-regular shift on the fourth line. He looked lost most of the first period, but strung together some strong shifts in the 2nd, and even created a little offensive pressure around the Wolves net. His speed did not look like as much of an issue when he had the puck around the net. He had so e issues again in the third when he came out of the box after serving Callahan's extra two minutes.
Adam Almquist was underwhelming again and did not have a great game. We were just talking about how he has not looked like himself the last stretch of games, and tonight was a lightning rod. In the first he lost his man and ended up having to take a penalty to prevent or scoring chance. The wolves lone goal was because he didn't stop his man, and he had several turnovers and suicide passes to his partner Paetsch that led to dangerous chances. Hopefully this is just a blip and he will get back into the groove soon.
Andrej Nestrasil is quietly having a good season and may be on his way to earning another contract. He has been playing center a lot this season and has done a good job in that role. he has also had some time on the powerplay where he has used his size and hands in front of the net. He showed some nice chemistry with Jarnkrok and has improved his faceoffs, winning several big ones in the offensive zone.
Grant looked like he was on a mission and played a physical game all night. He banged hard on every shift and caused the Wolves problems. It looked like he and Tootoo were trying to see who could get the most hits.
Ferraro had a lot of energy and was absolutely phenomenal on the penalty kill. One has to wonder though whether he wouldn't be better served by playing with someone other than Sheahan at even strength. Despite a lot of time on the same line, they don't seem to play together as well as when they are separated.
Another strong night by Callahan who was an irritant for the wolves and had a couple of nice chances. He was very good on the PK (as usual) and created chances on the forecheck.