Griffins Recover From Late Collapse To Beat Marlies 6-3|
Grand Rapids wins for first time in 8 games...
By Jason Kasiorek
The Griffins won an up and down game against the Toronto marlies in an up and down, fight filled battle of the cellar dwellers. Grand Rapids stormed out to a four goal lead in the first and looked to be a different team then we have seen the last six weeks at Van Andel Arena. The Marlies tried to intimidate GR physically and the Griffins answered the call and showed that was not going to get the job done. They were cruising to a shutout when a heinous turnover by Williams in front started a 3 goal rally leaving the outcome in doubt. Patrick Rissmiller (12) had two goals for Grand Rapids, which also got tallies from Vigilante (8), Ritola (11), Janik (5), and Emmerton (8).
The Griffins did something they have had a hard time doing this season, score the first goal. John Vigilante followed up a Tardif goal mouth stuff, and pushed it the rest of the way over the line for a 1-0 lead just two and a half minutes into the game. The Marlies Hodgeman knocked Larsson to the ice in a big collision, drawing a penalty and the attention of Justin Abdelkader. Daniel looked very shaken up but remained in the game. The griffins took advantage of the powerplay with Ritola scoring to go up by two. The crafty winger showed great coordination to lift the puck as he rotated while cruising through the slot and lifted the puck into the top corner of the net, stick side. Frankie Pare missed a check and barreled into the boards. He was shaken up and unable to leave the ice without a lot of help. Doug Janik made it 3-0 when he cranked a rising shot from the point that just beat MacDonald off the post. Abdelkader got right in the face of Hodgeman, still continuing his conversation about the hit on Larsson, but was pulled away before anything happened. Off the next faceoff, Brown threw a crosscheck and challenged Abdelkader who destroyed him in front of the Griffins bench. Brent got the extra two giving GR a 5 on 3 powerplay. Newbury hit Patrick Rissmiller in the circle and he backhanded a shot just under the bar that popped the water bottle to make it 4-0. Deveaux challenged Emmerton and would not take no, so captain Jamie Tardif jumped in and took some punches for the team. Berry jumped Tomas Tatar, knocking him to the ice from behind, but several Griffins converged to stop anything else from happening. Shots on Goal: GR 12 - Tor 4.
Frankie Pare returned to start the second, and the crowd breathes a sigh of relief. Grand Rapids is doing a good job of winning the board battles for possession of the puck. The play was much more even as the second went on, partially due to a parade of Griffins to the penalty box. Emmerton had a great chance, flicking the puck over a sprawled out MacDonald and into the net, but it was waived off with Vigilante laid out in the crease. Newbury was sprung on a breakaway but the former Marlie could not convert. Tardif had a great change on the doorstep but the puck went just wide. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - Tor 9.
Things looked good until Jeremy Williams tried to be fancy in front of his own net and coughed up the puck. Rome pounced on it and fired past a surprised Larsson to break the shutout bid. It was a brutal play by Williams who was visibly upset by it. Less than a minute later Simon on the rush snuck a bullet between Larsson and the post to cut the lead to two. Grand Rapids coach Fraser called a timeout to try and settle down his fragile team. The Griffins are falling apart and having a tough time even getting the puck out of their own end. The giveaway by Williams has at least temporarily broken their fragile confidence. Just past the eleven minute mark a Marlies two-on-one is finished off with Scott scoring to make it 4-3. Two quick Marlies penalties led to a 5-on-3 griffins powerplay. Stokes knocked Abdelkader into the net and cross checked him. Mursak came to his aid and a big scrum broke out in the Toronto net. Rissmiller settled things down with five minutes left, snapping a shot from the circle past MacDonald for his second goal of the game. Mursak almost made it 6-3 on a breakaway, but just ran out of room as he cut in. Joey MacDonald was called to the bench with a minute and a half. After a couple of misses, Emmerton hits the empty net to make it 6-3. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Tor 9. For the Game: GR 33 - Tor 22.
tatar - McGrath - Pare
Ritola - Abdelkader - Mursak
Newbury - Rissmiller - Williams
Vigilante - Emmerton - Tardif
Kindl - #26 Lilja
Kolosov - Delmore
Janik - Pyett
Crosty - Scratch
Ehrhardt - Scratch
Newbury - Rissmiller - Williams/Pare
Lilja - Pyett
Ritola - Abdelkader - Mursak
Williams - Janik
Rissmiller - Newbury
Kolosov - Lilja
Ritola - Abdelkader
Janik - Pyett
Vigilante - Emmerton
3 Emmerton - GR
2 Vigilante - GR
1 Rissmiller - GR
What a great first period! That is the way this team is supposed to play. Unfortunately they don't believe that as we saw them fall apart in the third and almost give the game away.
Williams, a frequent whipping boy here lately, didn't help himself last night. A veteran should know not to be fancy when you are the last man back. Brutal! As soon as that went in half the heads on the bench dropped, and after the second goal, they all fell apart, looking like they expected to lose again.
Justin Abdelkader was beyond feisty last night, bordering on down right mean! You knew he was going to get into a fight with someone eventually. His force of will has changed the team since he has been down here, what a difference his presence would have made if he had been here all year.
Mattias Ritola has shown some great chemistry with Abdelkader and looks much more dangerous with him as a complementary player.
Lilja logged a ton of ice time and looked tired as the game went on. I have never been so happy to see him on the ice as I was when he came out as a starter. What a tremendous accomplishment to come back after being out for over a year. He looks very fit and even a little faster than I remember. I wish he was here longer, but it is obvious he belongs in Detroit once he gets his wind back.
Tatar didn't end up on the scoresheet, but it wa not from lack of effort as he had a lot of dangerous looking chances. He must have hit 7 different players in front of the net as he curled in and wristed shots at MacDonald.