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Aeros Work Overtime to Ground Griffins 3-2
Griffins can't withstand third period rally...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 11th, 2012

The Griffins completely dominated the Houston Aeros for the first 43 minutes of the game and then fell apart late to allow their opponent off the ropes to rally for a 3-2 shootout win. Grand Rapids outshot Houston 29-10 in the first two periods, carrying play in all facets, but an early goal in the third changed momentum and left the Griffins on the outside looking in. Chris Conner had a great game, adding a goal and an assist, while Landon Ferraro added his sixth of the season and Gustav Nyquist chipped in a pair of assists. Joey MacDonald took the loss, despite some stellar play, stopping 24 of 27 shots.

Boasting a full lineup for the first time in several months, Grand Rapids was ready to play at the first drop of the puck. Hard work by Conner to drive to the net carrying an Aero on his back to draw a penalty. The Griffins powerplay couldn't get one past Kuemper, but peppered him with several quality shots. Later, Conner got behind the defense, used his body to shield the puck and drove to the net. He cut in front and got Kuemper's feet moving before tucking a shot under him for his 8th of the season. Shots on Goal: GR 14 - Hou 4.

Amadio stood up Cody Almond at the blueline and stunned the big forward. He was on his knees for a while and could not leave the ice under his own power. Ferraro had a couple of pops in front before being dumped to the ice without a call. Tatar came late and got a great pass in the slot which he rang off the crossbar. The Griffins completely dominated the period allowing only 2 shots on goal to Houston through the first 12+ minutes. Shots on Goal: GR 15 - Hou 6.

Parkes turned over the puck at the line allowing the Aeros possession in the zone. DiSalvatore with speed to a wicked shot from the circle that bounced in behind MacDonald to tie the game at one. Amadio in the crease on his hands and knees made a huge stop to keep the game even. That goal turned the tide of the game as the Aeros began attacking the Griffins net in waves. Bad blood boiled over with Bagnall attacking Aubry. Callahan and Parkes also paired off and began grappling with Aeros players. Amadio was chirping with Bagnall all the way to the penalty box about his treatment of Aubry. Grand Rapids regained the lead with just under four minutes to go in the period. Conner gained the zone and then went cross ice to Ferraro who banged home a shot. The next time down the ice, Exelby takes a costly, blatant boarding penalty leaving the Griffins shorthanded for most of the rest of the game. After a great minute and change of an aggressive penalty kill, Ortmeyer scores to tie it up and send the game to overtime. Shots on goal: GR 6 - Hou 15.

Several great chances by Conner and then Pare sprung Andersson for a nice chance. Pare had the puck in front and a ton of time, but fired it wide. Tatar broke a stick at the line, but followed his man into the Griffins zone and didn't allow him a shot. Shots on goal: GR 1 - Hou 1. For the Game: GR 36 - Hou 27.

The Shootout
Jeff Taffe went first for Houston, skating in and coming to a stop just outside the crease as he attempted to freeze MacDonald who didn't take the bait. Gustav Nyquist got the crowd on its feet with a slick deke that drew Kuemper out of the net and left a wide open cage for him to slide the puck into for a 1-0 lead. Fontaine started round two but fired his shot over the net. Brendan Smith came in wide on his attempt, got Kuemper moving and then shot the puck wide. Foucalt wired a shot past MacDonald, stick side to tie the game, while Conner made a nice move and tried to slide it under Kuemper but was denied. Broda rang a shot off the post in round four followed by Ferraro who fired the puck into Kuemper's pad. DiSalvatore who had one of the Aero's two goals in regulation, won the game with a shot he put between MacDonald's pads, five-hole. Johnson had a chance to keep the Griffins alive, but Kuemper kept it out for the win.

Tatar - Johnson - Pare
Brunnstrom - Andersson - Mursak
Conner - Ferraro - Nyquist
Parkes - Aubry - Callahan

Janik - Smith
Exelby - Pyett
Lashoff - Amadio

Starter: MacDonald
Backup: McCollum

Ehrhardt - Shoulder (back soon)
Piche - Eye

Tatar - Johnson - Pare
Janik - Smith

Conner - Ferraro - Nyquist
Lashoff - Pyett

Andersson - Pare/Mursak
Janik - Smith

Ferraro - Tatar
Exelby - Lashoff

Nyquist - Johnson


What an embarrassing end to this game. The Griffins had this game well in hand with one of its best efforts of the season, until the third period. After the Aeros scored, Grand Rapids could not match Houston and were rolled over. If this team is to have any success in the postseason, they will have to learn to play a full 60 minute game.

With the return of Conner, Andersson and Nyquist, Coach Fraser had a lot of offense in his lineup, and it was apparent on the first powerplay where they generated a ton of shots. The downside was that the very effective line of Parkes-Aubry-Callahan did not see much ice tonight as the coach chose to play the marquee players more.

Conner made his presence in the lineup felt. He has a motor that won't quit and probably had another half dozen scoring chances besides the five shots officially credited to him.

It was nice to see the confidence the coach showed in Landon Ferraro who got to center for Conner and Nyquist, and played a great game.

Brendan Smith was very noticeable tonight, and was in control of puck distribution on the powerplay.

Fabian Brunnstrom is snakebit right now, and can't seem to get the puck in the net. He is however playing very hard in all three zones and he is still getting chances, eventually they have to start going in.

Official Game Sheet