Ellis' First Hat Trick Upstages MacLean's Return|
Captains Four Point Night Leads the Way...
By Jason Kasiorek
With reigning AHL MVP Donald MacLean back in town, it was not surprising that a hat trick was scored during tonights game. What was surprising however was that the scorer was captain Matt Ellis. Ellis scored shorthanded, on the powerplay and added an empty netter for his first career three goal game. Derek Meech and Eric Himelfarb also added shorthanded tallies to help the Griffins tie a team record set in 1998 against Kalamazoo. Jimmy Howard made 24 saves for his third straight win and 15th of the season.
Matt started off his career best 4 point night in a familiar spot, on the penalty kill. Meech sent the puck around the board and out to a waiting Ellis who spun around and launched a bad angle shot that surprised LeNeveu and bulged the twine. The Griffins dominated the first outshooting and outplaying the rampage. Shots on goal GR 16 - San 4.
Ellis set up the Griffins second shorthanded goal just over five minutes into the period when he sent a perfect cross-ice feed to a streaking Meech who cruised into the circle and rifled a low shot that beat LeNeveu stick-side for another shorthander. Two minutes later on the next Rampage powerplay, Himelfarb with speed made a great move between the circles and put a shot against the grain that found its way through low stickside for the record tying third shorty. That was all she wrote for LeNeveu as he was pulled in favor of Tordjman. Donald MacLean finally broke the goose egg with 15 seconds left in the period on the powerplay when he wristed a laser over Howard's shoulder. Shots on goal GR 17 - San 12.
It was the captain again in the third, putting the game out of reach with his second of the game on the powerplay. Matt picked up his own rebound in front of the net and snapped it into the net, glove side, just past the 5 minute mark to make it 4-1. The Rampage refused to give up, scoring in the closing minutes of the game on an odd man rush. A tic-tac-toe passing play to Lehoux who poked it past Howard five-hole to make it 4-2. Tordjman to the bench with two minutes left on the clock for an extra attacker. Himelfarb iced the game with some hard work along the boards, stealing the puck and dishing to a streaking Ellis for the empty-netter and his first tour du chapeau. Shots on goal GR 7 - San 10. For the game GR 40 - San 10.
Bootland - Himelfarb - Keller
Barney/Oulahen/Brooks - Ellis - Campbell
Oulahen/Barney - Miller - Hussey
Tardif - Oulahen - Brooks
Syvret - Galvin
Insana - Quincey
Smith - Meech
Ericsson - Injured (lower Body)
Miller - Ellis - Campbell
Hussey - Meech
Barney - Himelfarb - Bootland
Quincey - Syvret
Oulahen - Ellis
Smith - Meech
Hussey/Bootland - Himelfarb
Quincey - Syvret
Hussey - Campbell
Ellis continues to play at a very high level since his NHL baptism. He is also buoyed by the prospect of being a new father as his wife is due any minute. If he can keep up his torid play as of late, an NHL team will take notice.
Eric Himelfarb had another strong game, winning several battles in the high traffic areas on the ice. It is also encouraging that his offensive game has coem back around, making him a dangerous and effective player in all three zones.
Ryan Oulahen is taking advantage of extra ice time to showcase a pretty sound two-way game. His offense has picked up in the second half, and an increase in intensity has made him more effective defensively.
Derek Meech could have easily been first star tonight with the game he played. He was a force at both ends and outplayed his former mentor Bryan Helmer.
Brendon Brooks had a little trouble handling the puck tonight, but finished his checks and used his speed to get into dangerous scoring position.
Official Game Sheet