Monsters Korpisalo Shuts Down Griffins 2-1
Puempel scores Griffins lone goal...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 13th, 2018
The visiting Lake Erie monsters got some payback tonight for last nights 4-2 defeat at the hands of their hosts the Grand Rapids Griffins. The monsters withstood four straight Griffins powerplays before finally getting one of their own and capitalizing. Netminder Joonas Korpisalo stole the game with a masterful 35 save performance, stopping everything including the kitchen sink except a fluky late goal by Matt Puempel. Thomas McCollum duelled Korpisalo to a scoreless tie through two before yielding a pair of goals in the third, finishing with 23 stops.
Nice job by Dan Renouf battling in the defensive zone and taking away space. McIlrath and Gallant dropped the gloves in front of the penalty boxes for a heavyweight bout. Both landed blows but McIlrath seemed to take the worst of it. The Griffins has several glorious chances on the power play, Puempel missed and then it was fired over a wide open net. Matt Ford in the slot ripped a shot that hit Korpisalo. Next stoppage in play, they reviewed one of the chances. It was still ruled no goal. Renouf and Bit er pushing and shoving, but nothing else came of it. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Cle 10.
End to end chances early with several good chances both ways. Ford with a lightning quick snapshot between the circles that hit Korpisalo. A monsters defender fell down and Ford went in two-on-one for a nice scoring chance that Korpisalo got a piece of. Somerby blazed down the wing and fired a shot on McCollum that he snared. Street fired a long shot off the end boards and Russo picked up the rebound for a chance at the side of the net. Another Griffins power play with very little to show for it. Great passing play, give and go between Elkins and Street but somehow Korpisalo made a save. Hronek point shot hit Korpisalo and Tangradi got a stick on it, but it just stayed out. Matt Puempel with a pair of short range chances just to the side of the net. Another flurry of chances in front. The Griffins are throwing everything at Korpisalo but he is frustrating them. Holmstrom smoked the monsters puck carrier with his head down at center ice. Shots on goal: GR 16 - Cle 5.
Lake Erie finally found the score sheet early in the third. Puempel lost his check right in front, allowing Gaunce a free shot on McCollum from the slot and he stroked a shot in for a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later with Russo in the box for delay of game, Motte notched a powerplay goal to extend the lead to two. The law of averages caught up to the Griffins who had enjoyed the first five powerplays of the game. Thomas McCollum to the bench for the extra attacker with just under three minutes left. Cleveland did a good job of closing all the lanes so that Grand Rapids didn't get too many quality chances. With time ticking down, Hronek dumped the puck in with a fluttering lob that Korpisalo had trouble with. Puempel following up banged the puck home to break up the shutout. The Griffins tried in vain to get the equalizer but time ran out on a 2-1 loss to the visiting Cleveland Monsters. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Cle 10. For the game: GR 36 - Cle 25.
Grand Rapids dressed 11 forwards and 7 defenseman
#26 Tangradi - #10 Street - #73 Puempel
#28 Lorito - #15 Elson - #45 Campbell
#77 Svechnikov - #25 Holmstrom - #55 Ford
Several players - #47 Elkins - #65 Shine
#18 Lashoff - #13 Hronek
#20 Renouf/#9 Saarijarvi - #5 Russo
#2 Hicketts- #52 McIlrath
Starter: #30 McCollum
Backup: #31 Coreau
Tangradi -Street - Lorito
Puempel - Hronek
Holmstrom - Ford - Svechnikov
Hicketts - Russo
Street - Campbell
Lashoff - McIlrath
Elkins - Ford
Hicketts - Renouf
While the Griffins didn't help themselves at times, the real story tonight was the goaltending of Joonas Korpisalo who flat out stole this game. McCollum played well at the other end and probably deserved better. Cleveland also did a mucj better job of taking the passing lanes away and really clogging things up so the griffins couldn't move the puck up ice with possession.
The Griffins played without center Dominic Turgeon who was recalled by the parent Red Wings just prior to the game. He is expected to make his NHL debut against Chicago on Sunday.
Had to call out Filip Hronek again for another strong game (Renouf and Saarijarvi certainly played well also). One f the things I have been watching the last couple of games is what a good job Hronek does on the point of the powerplay. He has a knack for finding opening to get the puck to the net. Several times he has would up for a shot then dipped shoulder and slid to the side to create a lane next to the defenseman who is challenging him. Tonight he made a head and shoulders fake to freeze the defenseman and skate just past him to surprise Korposalo with a shot.