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Heat Burn Griffins In 3-2 Shootout Loss
Slow start and key injuries contribute to loss...
By Jason Kasiorek
February 9th, 2018

The visiting Stockton Heat took advantage of a late start by the home team and then had to rally from behind to force overtime and eventually a shootout. The Griffins were badly outplayed in the first period and fell behind 1-0 before scoring two goals in a two minute span of the second period. They were unable to hold on to the lead, allowing a late powerplay goal to force an extra session. Matt Lorito failed to connect on a rare overtime penalty shot and the Griffins were unable to solve Gillies in the shootout. Jared Coreau made 29 stops in the loss, and Eric Tangradi celebrated his birthday with a goal (20) and 6 shots. Matt Ford had the other tally for Grand Rapids, his 19th of the campaign.

Grand Rapids did not get off to the start they were used to and the first period was all Stockton. The Heat carried play, possession time, scoring chances, and any other metric you wanted. In fact the only time that the griffins had any pressure was while killing penalties. Very little went right for the home team, Russo out of the box and headed back to the bench and GR got a too many men on the ice penalty. They were lucky to escape the period with a scoreless tie. Shots on goal: GR 2 - Stock 14.

Stockton didn't waste any time opening the scoring in the second, notching a goal just 19 seconds into the period. Stockton with an odd man russ and Crammarossa went across for Findlay who took advantage of Coreau moving side to side and backhanded the puck through his feet five hole. Hronek nice work on the powerplay to carry in to the zone and set up. Hronek with a big drive that Gillies had trouble with and several Griffins had chances at the rebound. Held in at the point by Hronek who seems to be everywhere, picking up passes and putting low shots on net. Evgeny Svechnikov with a chance in front and then tried to knock the puck out of Gillies' glove which drew a crowd. The Griffins finally flipped the switch and started raising their level of play to match the Heat. Tangradi all alone in front and hit the post. The big winger got the puck back in scoring position on a sick between the legs pass by Street, and a tip by Svechnikov, and snapped it in over Gillies. Hronek with a great play walked up the slot and fired a shot in over Gillies. It was tipped in front and later awarded to Matt Ford. Dan Renouf came out of the penalty box, took a lead pass and went in on Gillies. He tried to chip a shot past the goalie, but Gillies just managed to pinch it closed. Shots on goal: GR 14 - Stock 5.

Brian Lashoff on the PK blocked a shot that hit him in the hand. He managed to clear the puck before making his way to the bench and then right down the tunnel to the locker room. The good news is he was back on the bench before he missed a shift. Hronek with a pair of shots that got through traffic and on net. Two-on-one for Stockton but the shot hit the post. Turgeon with a steal skated in and put a shot on Gillies, long rebound to McIlrath who fired a blast that hit Gillies and he had to juggle. Svechnikov dropped the gloves and went after Dalton Prout. He landed several solid blows (and took a couple) before it was broken up. Russo to the box with 3 minutes left leaving the Griffins short at the worst time. Wotherspoon scored early in the powerplay on a long shot from the point to tie the game with two minutes remaining. Shots on goal: GR 6 - Stock 9.

Tangradi cut through the crease and had a point blank chance that Gillies got a piece of. Coreau with a huge save and Russo cleared the rebound up ice. Lorito in alone on a breakaway but was interfered with at the net, and a penalty shot was called for. Lorito flew in on Gillies, deked and tried to slide the puck past his leg pad, but Gillies kicked it out. Russo with a heavy shot on net, and Svechnikov in the slot had a dangerous shot but couldn't get it in the net. Shots on goal: GR 5 - Stock 3.

Mangiapane was the first shooter for Stockton and he came in on net, deked, and slid it in past Coreau's pads. Dominic Turgeon went next for Grand Rapids, cutting in from the side and firing a high shot, glove side that Gillies snared. Shinkaruk was Stockton's second shooter and tucked the puck past Coreau's leg pad for a 2 goal advantage. Filip Hronek was up next for the Griffins and went all the way over to the side boards, accelerating in on net from an angle, and made a slick move to open up the five hole, but Gillies surprised him by doing the splits and just making the stop. That save gave Stockton a 3-2 shootout win over the Griffins. Shots on goal: GR 0 - Stock 1. For the game: GR 27 - Stock 32.

The Griffins dressed 11 forwards and 7 defenseman

#28 Lorito - #23 Turgeon - #55 Ford
#26 Tangradi - #10 Street - #77 Svechnikov
#15 Elson - #47 Elkins - #19 Esposito
- #25 Holmstrom - #65 Shine

#13 Hronek - #5 Russo
#20 Renouf - #52 McIlrath
#18 Lashoff - #9 Saarijarvi/#12 McCarron

Starter: #31 Coreau
Backup: #30 McCollum

#2 Hicketts - Knee
#37 Nastasiuk
#45 Campbell - Injured
#73 Puempel - Injured

Tangradi - Street - Ford
Lorito - Hronek

Elson - Holmstrom - Svechnikov
Russo - Saarijarvi

Turgeon - Street/Elson
Lashoff - McIlrath

Ford - Elkins
McCarron - Russo


Tough loss for the Griffins, though things probably would have ended differently if they would have been ready to play in the first period. It truthfully was one of the worst periods they have played all season. They had several good chances to pull ahead, including Lorito's penalty shot.

The Griffins played without Colin Campbell, Matt Puempel and Joe Hicketts, all out due to injuries.

After struggling through the first half, Axel Holmstrom has shown signs of emerging. Not coincidentally, his skating has looked much better the last couple of games, and on Saturday he really was showing off his acceleration and smooth stride. It has been about a year since his major knee surgery last season, and it looks like things are starting to come back on line for him. Especially noticeable was how much more involved in the play he was as he wasn't afraid of getting caught behind the play.

Rookie D Patrick McCarron got into his second game of the season and had another strong game. He was used on the penalty kill, showing the coaching staff's confidence in him.

Official Game Sheet