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Nagle's First AHL Win Backstops Griffins Over Comets 5-1
Former Ferris State netminder stops 29 shots...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 23rd, 2015

Pat Nagle was an unlikely hero on Friday night at Van Andel arena, but the former Ferris State Bulldog capped off a cinderella story by making 29 saves to post his first career AHL victory, a 5-1 waxing of the visiting Utica Comets. With the Griffins regular duo of Petr Mrazek and Thomas McCollum both up with the parent Detroit Red Wings, Jared Coreau has gotten a lot of work between the pipes. The Griffins played three games in four nights, and Coreau was due a rest. Enter emergency backup Nagle, a 4th year pro, toiling in the ECHL with the Fort Wayne Komets for a first star of the game performance. The griffins got goals from Zengerle (5), Callahan (13), Tvrdon (2) and a pair of empty netters by Nosek in the win.

Zengerle had a nice chance to the side of the net early, and then on the next rush, Mantha had a great pop from the circle. Utica took advantage of a Griffins miscue for a shorthanded break on Nagle, but fired the puck wide. Ferraro with a point blank stuff at the edge of the crease, but somehow Eriksson kept it out. Zengerle got sprung right up the middle by Marchenko and wristed a shot that was going over the net until it hit the outstretched glove of Eriksson, changed direction, and went into the net for a 1-0 lead. The Griffins penalty killers did a stellar job of killing off a late Comets powerplay, really frustrating Utica. This boiled over into a series of borderline hits as the Comets took some runs at Griffins players in the corner. Shots on goal: GR 9 - Utica 11.

Hoggan nearly made it 2-0 early the first when his heavy shot from the slot got through everyone but hit Aubry's foot as he went through the crease setting a screen. Utica scored a hotly contested goal midway through the second. It looked to have been directed in with a high stick and then a body part , but was somehow allowed to stand. O'Reilly put a bad angle shot on net that laid in the crease for several agonizing seconds before being swept away. Great play by Miele 4-on-4 to circle back, pick up speed, and carry the puck up the middle, setting up the trailer Pulkkinen with a sweet drop pass, that was just stopped. A little later on the same shift, Pulkkinen put a shot on net and Callahan followed it up, showing great second effort to keep putting it on net until he got it behind the Comets netminder for his 13th at the buzzer. There was a quick confab between the officials at the end of the period to make sure that it did indeed beat the buzzer, but it was allowed to stand. Shots on goal: GR 16 - Utica 7.

Aubry and Friesen came to blows to the side of the Utica bench, but neither really landed much. Grand Rapids got an early powerplay with Shinkaruk in the box for cross-checking, but were very ineffective, generating no real chances. Nagle was forced to make a big stop in traffic, flashing the pad, and then had to hold the post as the Comets tried to push him and the puck over the line. Pulkkinen got loose in front and picked a corner, but Eriksson just got a glove on it. Later on the powerplay, Tvrdon in front picked a rebound off of Eriksson's chest in midair and batted it home for 3-1 lead. Callahan on the rush missed a wide open net and took some ribbing from Miele after the whistle. Miele carried the mail all the way up ice again and set up another glorious scoring chance in front. The Griffins took a penalty with five minutes remaining, setting up a Utica powerplay. The Comets called a timeout, and then kept Ericksson on the bench for a 6-on-4. Callahan cleared the length of the ice and just missed the empty net. On the next shift, Nosek from the GR blueline hit the empty net for a short handed goal, his 4th of the season. Utica kept the goalie on the bench for the extra skater after the goal. Big glove save by Nagle to take a great scoring chance. With just over a minute left, Hoggan missed the empty net and the play was blown dead for icing, Grand Rapids took their timeout. Nosek added another empty net tally to set the final score of 5-1, and then was smoked by a Utica player after the shot. Shots on Goal: GR 12 - Utica 12. For the Game: GR 37 - Utica 30.

Hoggan - Aubry - Campbell
Tvrdon/Hoggan - Nosek - Ferraro
Callahan - Miele - Pulkkinen
Mantha - Porter - Zengerle

Evans - Sproul
Czarnowczan - Marchenko
Paetsch - Jensen

Starter: #35 Nagle
Backup: Coreau

Athanasiou - Broken Jaw

Callahan - Porter/Miele - Miele/Hoggan
Paetsch - Pulkkinen

Mantha - Nosek - Ferraro/Tvrdon
Tvrdon/Czarnowczan - Sproul

Porter - Callahan
Czarnowczan/Paetsch - Jensen

Nosek - Ferraro
Evans - Marchenko


Nagle was not tested much early, but made some major league stops in the latter stages of the game. He earned the win and looked good doing it.

The Comets game plan obviously was to take away any space for Pulkkinen to get a shot off, they double teamed him and every time he got the puck on his stick, someone was standing in front of him. The good news is that opened up more room for Miele and Callahan, and Pulkkinen still managed 7 shots on goal.

Tvrdon started the game as the point on the 2nd powerplay unit, but got moved up to the wing for a shift, using his big body in front of the net and scored a goal. He definitely seemed more effective in close, showing off quick hands.

Aubry was on tonight and showed a good compete level. The hulking center had several quality scoring chances, set up a couple of others, was difficult to play against, and even dropped the gloves. The key is getting him to play like this every game.

Mantha had a couple of chances early, but was pretty quiet for a guy with his skillset. The adjustment process continues...

I was a bit surprised with how much ice time Scott Czarnowczan got in all situations. He seems to get better every game, and moves the puck very well. he has definitely softened the blow of losing Backman and Ouellet by giving GR another solid option on the backend.

Official Game Sheet