McGrath the Man in Griffins 4-3 Win|
Rookie Center Posts Two Goals...
By Jason Kasiorek
Rookie center Evan McGrath came up big tonight in only his second contest back with Grand Rapids after being demoted to the ECHL earlier in the season. McGrath posted 15 points in 9 games with Toledo (ECHL), and apparently it carried over in his return to the AHL. Evan scored the Griffins first goal, and the winning goal in the shootout. Derek Meech added a shorthanded goal, and Kyle Quincey had a goal and an assist in the win. Stefan Liv overcame a shaky start, giving up two goals on the first four shots, to close the door, only giving up one on the next 32 shots.
The crunch got out to an early lead scoring two goals in the first five minutes and change. Liv made the first stop but was driven into the net by Picard and the puck came loose for a PP goal. Just over a minute later Syracuse made it 2-0 on a two-on-one. Smith went down to take away the pass, but it got through to Labelle anyway for an easy goal, top shelf, glove-side. Bootland almost got GR on the board when he made a great move and crashed the net, but Conklin just kept the puck out. The Griffins look out of sync, having trouble completing a pass, not a lot of jump. Shots on Goal GR 7 - Syr 12.
Grand Rapids made it 2-1 just past the five minute mark of the second when McGrath followed up the play, picking up the puck as Booter faked a shot and drilling it high glove side. Liv made a nice stop and a scrum broke out in front. No punches were thrown, but Smith tried to square off with Szwes. The Griffins made it 2-2 later in the period when Matt Ellis stole the puck along the boards and sprung Oulahen and Meech on a shorthanded 2-on-1. Oulahen waited until the last possible second before dishing to Meech for an easy goal. The game is getting very chippy with lots of pushing and shoving after the whistle. Shots GR 13 - Syr 13.
Syracuse took the lead again just into the third when PLatt skated behind the net and came out the other side where he one timed a pass into the net stick-side past a surprised Liv. Syracuse had a chance put the game away, but couldn't even generate a shot on a 2-on-0 break. With time winding down in the third, Quincey let a blast from the point go that found its way through to tie it at three. Shots on goal GR 11 - Syr 8.
Lots of end to end action in OT, with GR having the edge in scoring chances. Shots on Goal: GR 5 - Syr 3.
Lindstrom tried to go five-hole on Liv but was denied. Hussey went in on Conklin and was denied on the same move. Platt was next but he missed the net with his shot. McGrath was the second shooter for GR and he blazed in on Conklin before ripping a shot high, glove-side for a goal. Glencross was next for the crunch but he was stopped with a kick save by Liv. Campbell ripped a shot of Conklins pads, as did Pineault on the fourth Crunch shot. Miller scored a beauty right between Conklins legs to end the shootout.
Oulahen/Voce - Ellis - Campbell
Hussey - Miller - Voce/Oulahen
Bootland - Himelfarb - Brooks/McGrath/Tardif
Brooks - Oulahen/Himelfarb - Tardif
Ericsson - Injured
Norton - Injured
Bootland - Himelfarb - Campbell
Syvret - Quincey
Voce - Miller - Ellis/Tardif
Hussey - Meech
Meech played anothe big game on the blueline, he looks very confidant breaking up plays.
Evan McGrath didn't see a lot of ice tonight, but really looked like he had more jump in his skates. He seemed to be playing with a purpose. Hopefully this is a carryover of his time in Toledo (ECHL), and he will be more of a factor going forward.
Official Game Sheet