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Griffins Let Wild Win Slip Away In 4-3 Overtime Defeat
Holmstrom Notches 11th in OT Loss...
By Jason Kasiorek
March 8th, 2019

Visiting netminder Andrew "Hamburglar" Hammond won the goaltending duel stopping 34 to lead his team to a 4-3 overtime win over the Host Grand Rapids Griffins. Grand Rapids peppered him with shots at times, but he was able to keep his team in the game until they could get their offense untracked. He was especially sharp in the overtime facing feared goal-scorers Martin Frk, Chris Terry and Matt Puempel on the same powerplay unit. His counterpart, Harri Sateri made 17 stops in absorbing his 5th overtime loss of the season. Martin Frk (3), Givani Smith (5) and Axel Holmstrom (11) all scored for the home team, currently sitting in second place, one point behind the Chicago Wolves.

Grand Rapids wasted no time getting on the board as Martin Frk picked up the puck skated into the zone and fired a rocket form the circle past Hammond for a one goal lead just 17 seconds into the game. A few seconds later, they had another point-blank chance by Turner Elson that nearly ran the score to 2-0. Tempers flaring early as a big scrum broke out behind the wild net with Givani Smith right in the middle of it. Midway through the period the Griffins went up by two, thanks to some great work by Smith in front of the net. Dylan McIlrath with a big point blast that got through and hit Hammond. Smith in front picked up the rebound and buried it for his 5th of the season. Harri Sateri was hit in the mask by a shot he didn't see and ended up having to go to the bench for repairs. Iowa cut the lead to one, McLain all alone cut in to the net, dropped a shoulder and put the puck in just under the crossbar. Hicketts with a big hit to knock the puck loose and start a rush up ice. Shots on goal: GR 9 - Iowa 10.

Another lackluster Griffins powerplay and then Dennis Hulak took a penalty to kill the end of it. Puempel got dumped by Mayhew and then was roughed up a bit behind the play. Play continued and the pair came together again, and Puempel dropped the gloves. The Griffins goal scorer gave a pretty good accounting of himself, and they both left the ice bleeding. Grand Rapids promptly gave up a bad goal to squander the early 2-0 lead. Thundering check by McIlrath on Warner by the boxes. Warner took exception to the clean hit and grabbed Big Mac from behind. McIlrath throttled him, landing several huge blows to the head that sent him to the ice. Lots of bad blood between these two teams. Big Scrum in front of Hammond, Bartkowski was crosschecking Colin Campbell in the back as he was down on all fours. Frk went in and pulled him off and even got in a few licks as they both went to the box. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Iowa 4.

McIlrath with another point blast that stung Prosser trying to block the shot. Griffins running around inside their own zone several turnovers and defensive miscues led to Iowa's third straight goal. The puck went right to O'Reilly for a one-timer from the circle that beat Sateri for a goal that he should not be happy with. Less than a minute later the Griffins were able to tie the score at three. Scramble in front of Hammond and a diving Holmstrom pushed Matt Puempel's shot in over the line as the Griffins begin their late third period surge. Grand Rapids really pressuring Hammond, Givani Smith in front tipped a shot just wide. Shots on goal: GR 12 - Iowa 6.

The overtime was all Grand Rapids as they outshot Iowa 6-1, with several other Griffins chances blocked on the way to the net. Iowa circling in their own end for a while and then blew a line change and were assessed a to many men on the ice penalty setting up a rare 4-3 overtime powerplay. Marty Frk played seemingly all of the overtime, and it was clearly the Griffins strategy to set the sneaky sniper up as the shooter. It looked like a shooting gallery as he peppered Hammond and the Wild defense with shots at will. Turgeon's long shot missed the net wide and continued along and out of the zone leading to a 2-on-1. Elson fell down and Bartkowski deflected a shot past Sateri for the overtime winner 4-3. Shots on goal: GR 6 - Iowa 1. For the game: GR 37 - Iowa 21.

#73 Puempel - #10 Holmstrom - #91 Frk/#15 Elson
#15 Elson/#91 Frk - #19 Camper - #25 Terry
#12 Pope - #23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#54 Smith - #39 Hulak - #65 Shine

#18 Lashoff - #52 McIlrath
#44 Cholowski - #2 Hicketts
#4 Sulak - #27 Chelios

Starter: #29 Sateri
Backup: #42 Rybar

#9 Saarijarvi
#22 Megan - Veteran
#55 Ford


#15 Elson - #19 Camper - #45 Campbell
#73 Puempel - #2 Hicketts

#25 Terry - #10 Holmstrom - #23 Turgeon
#44 Cholowski - #91 Frk

#23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell/
#18 Lashoff - #52 McIlrath/#2 Hicketts

#39 Hulak - #65 Shine
#27 Chelios - #2 Hicketts


The Jekyll and Hyde Griffins are going to have to start playing a full game to have hope of advancing in the post-season. Tonight was another game where they got the lead early, sleepwalked through the middle 40 minutes and then turned it on in the latter stages of the third to eke out a late win. Unfortunately, with the normal hero's either in Detroit (Hronek and Zadina) or a rotating scratch (Megan), they didn't have enough horses to get it done and had to settle for a single point.

Cholowski looked tentative again at times tonight, and I long for the player he was in his first game down from Detroit. He clearly has talent a lot of his teammates don't, but seems afraid of making mistakes. One thing that is getting really old however is watching him use his phenomenal skating to cut up ice blowing through several players and then dumping the puck behind him as he reaches the line. He has the skill to bring it in the zone and make a play, he just appears to lack the confidence to do it very often. Having said that, he has great vision, and some of his first passes out of the zone have been impressive, threaded through traffic and right on to the tape of an emerging forward's stick.

As mentioned above, the team really looked like it missed Wade Megan, he can be a physical catalyst a lot like the departed Tangradi, when he is on, he is capable of setting a tone and pace and the team seems to feed off that.

Dylan McIlrath responded to being the rotating scratch last game with a huge performance. He was involved in the offense and played shutdown defense with his normal physical edge. Also have to give a shout out to Givani Smith who had another strong game and really looks to be rounding into form down the stretch. Lastly Marty Frk has at last regained his shot, which at the AHL level is a weapon. Even when the other team knew it was coming, the velocity was surprising and ended up getting through to the net several times. He led the team with five shots on goal and probably had twice that many blocked in front.

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