Griffins Outlast Rockford in 4-3 OT Win
Nosek the difference maker in overtime...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 29th, 2016
Grand Rapids new they would have their hands full with an angry Rockford IceHogs team after routing them 9-1 in their own building on Friday night. They survived a punishing physical contest and outlasted their opponent on the scoreboard, setting the stage for Tomas Nosek to be the hero in overtime, and he didn't disappoint. Grand Rapids also got goals from red-hot Martin Frk (17,18) and Tyler Bertuzzi (4). Jared Coreau matched his counterpart Michael Leighton save for save stopping 29 of 32 for the win his 21st of the campaign.
Great scoring chance early by Rockford, but Coreau was saved by the post. Mitch Callahan took exception with Hinostroza poking at Coreau after the whistle and took a couple of pokes at him. They both went off for roughing. Another penalty and Grand Rapids ended up with a 4-on-3 powerplay. Leighton took away what looked like a sure goal by Miele in front. Martin Frk, on the powerplay, with a huge drive up the gut that was in and out of the net in the blink of an eye to give the Griffins the lead. Rechlicz took a roughing penalty to give the IceHogs their first man-advantage. Dano sprayed Coreau with ice shavings after a stop and Jensen went right over and roughed him up a bit, moving him away from the crease. McNeill walked into the circle and raised a shot over Coreau and into the net to even things up midway through the period. Scrambly play, Miele with a turning shot in front, then Callahan picked a rebound for a chance, and Frk in slot dived forward and chipped it past Leighton for a 3-2 lead. Baun with a breakaway, but an aggressive Coreau challenged him and took it away. Bickell knocked Tangradi to the ice along the boards. Andy Miele was sprung into the open right in front for a glorious chance. Frk missed a wide-open net in the dying seconds of the first. Shots on goal: GR 12 - Rock 11.
Mark Zengerle hit Mantha for a wicked one-timer that just missed wide. Tomas Nosek, shorthanded, blocked a shot with his foot and then went in alone on Leighton trying to go five-hole. Colin Campbell came late and tried to knock the puck loose to no avail. Nosek with another steal in the corner and he and Campbell had a couple of great chances in the goalmouth. 2-on-1 Rockford and Ouellet didn't really take either player. The shooter put a big shot on Coreau and the trailer buried the rebound into the open side of the net. Bertuzzi got it right back, stealing the puck between the circles, making a nice little move and then sliding it past Leighton to regain the lead. Later in the period with Bertuzzi in the box for high-sticking, Pokka's point shot was tipped in front by Dano to even things at three goals each. Liambas goaded Reichlicz into dropping the gloves and then turtled to try and draw a penalty. Rechlicz pounded him unmercifully for several minutes until it was broken up. Liambas taunted the Griffins bench for a while before being escorted to the box, where he kept an ongoing conversation with Rechlicz the whole time he was in. Huge stop by Coreau who did the splits and flashed the leg pad to kick away what looked like a sure goal. Robbie Russo just tipped a Nosek point shot over the net. Rockford really playing dirty at this point, lots of holding, clutching, and late hits behind the play. Shots on goal: GR 12 - Rock 15.
The hitting is really picking up in the third as Rockford is trying to intimidate Grand Rapids physically. Brian Lashoff with some great defense, breaking up a 2-on-1 and sending the puck back up ice. Late Rockford penalty and another chance for the Grand Rapids powerplay to take the lead. McNeil made contact with Coreau, knocking him to the ice. He and Frk both went to the box on a brutal call. The Griffins powerplay wasn't not even able to generate a shot on goal. Scary chance by Rockford with a late 3-on-1, but Callahan got in the way enough for Jensen to get in the play and move the puck out of danger. The Griffins thought they may have scored in the final seconds, but Leighton somehow managed to keep it from crossing the line. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Rock 6.
Tomas Nosek finished off the IceHogs less than a minute into the overtime on a beautiful shot. Nosek carried the puck to the net, and fired a shot that Leighton stopped. Jensen and Tangradi both had pokes at the rebound before it went back to Nosek who banged it home into the empty side of the net. Shots on Goal: GR 3 - Rock 0. For the game: GR 38 - Rock 32.
Bertuzzi - Nosek - Cleary
Tangradi - Zengerle - Mantha
Callahan - Athanasiou - Nosek
Hoggan - Campbell - Rechlicz
Ouellet - Russo
Lashoff - Sproul
Paetsch - Jensen
#22 Aubry - Injury
#23 Grant - Injury
#32 Hirschfeld - Seizure
Callahan - Miele - Zengerle
Paetsch - Frk
Bertuzzi - Tangradi - Mantha
Ouellet - Sproul
Miele - Cleary/Tangradi
Paetsch - Jensen
Nosek - Campbell
Lashoff - Ouellet
Colin Campbell had another great game defensively. He was like a one man wrecking crew on the forecheck and really has elevated his play on the penalty kill. He really was able to work some magic with Nosek while on the PK. Very noticeable all night in all zones, he picked up the slack for GR tonight, missing physical Louis-Marc Aubry from the lineup.
While a lot is written about perpetual NHL prospects like Ouellet and Sproul, Brian Lashoff is really ignored or forgotten. He is arguably the best defensive defenseman on the team, and perhaps one of the best in the AHL. Last night I lost count of how many times he made a subtle adjustment and was in perfect position to break up a rush or how he picked up the man that was the real scoring threat and switched off to stop him.
The one area that Grand Rapids really struggled was in the faceoff circle. With two regular centers out of the lineup in Athanasiou and Aubry a drop off was to be expected, but it was a dramatic difference.