Griffins Hold Off Wolves 3-2|
Third line leads the offensive charge...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 20th, 2017
Lady luck smiled on the Griffins last night in a hotly contested matchup against the visiting Chicago Wolves. After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead on goals from Matt Ford (3) and Tomas Nosek (14), a pair of Wolves goals less than five minutes apart knotted the game at two. Rookie sniper Evgeny Svechnikov banked a shot off the end glass and into the crease where a pair of Chicago players converged to push it into their own net. The goal stood up as the eventual game winner, his 11th of the campaign. Eddie Pasquale made 26 saves for his 9th win of the year, several of which were highlight reel variety with Chicago pressing.
Nice defensive play by Ben Street as the last man back against a shorthanded chance and shut down MacEachern. Robbie Russo jousting in front with Sterling. Martin Frk at the side of the net, snuck the puck to Tomas Nosek for a backhanded chance right on the doorstep. Street with a partial break, cut in, but was interfered with enough to keep him from getting a good shot away. Evgeny Svechnikov in slot rifled a shot in on Husso, and Matt Ford in front banged the rebound home, low, glove side. late in the period on the powerplay, Nosek snapped a shot from the circle past Husso for a 2-0 lead. Huge stop by Pasquale from two- feet out to keep the wolves off the board. Matt Caito took Blais into the corner, knocked him down, and came out with the puck. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Chi 7
Russo went down awkwardly in the corner after a collision with Vaughan. The Griffins had a great chance right off the faceoff, with Tyler Bertuzzi burning a shot just wide. Blais cut in on net and managed to get position on Lashoff, sliding the puck between Eddie Pasquale and the post, stick side. The Wolves started to build some momentum and scoring chances and the Griffins were back on their heels a bit. Steal by Borkowski, but he couldn't settle it down enough to get a shot off. Nosek worked his magic, making a sick feed to Bertuzzi coming late for a big shot from the slot that Husso got a piece of. Midway through the period with Nosek in the box for tripping, Barbashev tipped in a point shot from Agostino, through Pasquale to knot the game at two apiece. Street up the middle with speed, split the Defense and muscled his way up the slot to the front of the net but was hooked down, setting up a short five-on-three. Bertuzzi pounced on a rebound at the side of the net and had a couple of pops at it. Great setup by Bertuzzi to a streaking Svechnikov, but he misfired. Caito and Sterling traded cross checks in the circle, drawing a crowd for some pushing and shoving. Svechnikov lined up a trick shot in the slot, taking an extra second to settle it down before wristing a shot high into the air that appeared to hit the glass behind the net, bounce off and drop right in the crease behind Husso. The puck was trickling towards the line when the Wolves inadvertently put in in their own net. Frk, taken out at the line, down for a few minutes then gingerly makes his way to the bench. The whole way over he was jawing with the aggressor, Butler, to show his unhappiness. He tried to channel that on the ensuing powerplay, firing several lasers from the point, but couldn't solve Husso. Shots on goal: GR 17 - Chi 10.
Bertuzzi picked the defenseman's pocket and then went in alone on a breakaway but lost control of the puck. The gritty forward had another glorious chance when he snapped a bullet from a sharp angle that just missed wide. Nathan Paetsch with a strong defensive play to ride Bleakley out of the play and take the puck away. Rockford with a quick passing play and Pasquale made two incredible saves from point blank range. The Griffins penalty killers killed off another powerplay to keep the one goal margin despite some heavy pressure by the Wolves. Renouf with a big shot and then play went the other way and Chicago hit the post. As the clock started to run low, Grand Rapids kept the pressure up and the puck deep to keep Husso in the net. With about a minute left he sprinted to the bench for an extra skater, but the griffins held on for a 3-2 win. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Chi 11. For the Game: GR 36 - Roc 28.
Bertuzzi - Nosek - Frk
Tangradi - Street - Callahan
Ford - Criscuolo - Svechnikov
Borkowski - Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - Caito
Renouf - Russo
Paetsch - Hicketts
#11 Cleary - Veteran
#28 Lorito - Injured
Tangradi - Nosek - Callahan
Frk - Street
Bertuzzi - Criscuolo - Svechnikov
Ford - Russo
Callahan - Street
Lashoff - Paetsch/Renouf
Ford - Nosek
Renouf - Hicketts/Russo
Tangradi - Campbell
The third line came up big tonight, as Ford and Svechnikov both scored goals and Criscuolo had a couple of helpers. It really shows off the depth on this club as it is difficult for opponents to shut down all three lines and the one they can't get to is capable of winning the game. Criscuolo specifically has had a very strong rookie season, notching 10 goals and 14 points in the first half while not being a defensive liability. Ford has played better than the numbers indicate, and Svechnikov shows flashes of brilliance, but like most young players needs to work on his consistency. He is dominant in stretches and will only get better.
Matt Caito also drew back into the lineup on the backend and had a solid game. You don't notice him much, but you do notice that he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, and does a good job of moving the puck out of the zone. He also has a dangerous looking shot, something that he may put to use on the man-advantage unit when he gets some more experience.
Dan Renouf also gets a shout out after another strong outing. The last stretch of games, he really has stood out on the Griffins blueline. He is positionally very sound, and the thing I notice the most is how much better his footwork is the last 10-15 games. His feet remain in motion, and he is angled to make the outlet or pivot to go back into his own zone.
I would also be remiss if I didn't welcome back Colin Campbell to the lineup. The team missed his snarl and physical play the last two months or so while he was out recovering from injury. He was a sight for sore eyes and made a difference on the fourth line.