Forsberg Foils Griffins in 3-2 Loss|
Rockford netminder stops 46 of 48 shots...
By Jason Kasiorek
March 15th, 2019
The Griffins threw everything but the kitchen sink at netminder Anton Forsberg, firing a season-high 48 shots, but were unable to repeat their normal late game heroics, finishing on the wrong end of a 3-2 loss. The IceHogs took advantage of sloppy defensive coverage to hand the Griffins a los, pushing them into third place in the division. Matt Ford (10) and Turner Elson (15) each scored for the home team, while sniper Marty Frk added a pair of assists. Goaltender Patrik Rybar made 17 stops, but had no chance on at least two of three IceHog tallies, posting his 10th regulation loss of the season.
Big shot on Forsberg early and Puempel in front tried to drag the rebound past the IceHogs netminder but couldn't grab it. Saarijarvi got crossed up in his defensive coverage leading to Martinsen getting a free pop from the edge of the slot past Rybar, glove-side, for a 1-0 lead. This caused the coaching staff to promptly change up the defensive pairings to move Saarijarvi from partnering with Sulak to Chelios. A scrum broke out in front with Givani Smith in the middle of it. Chris Terry snared a loose puck for a great chance. Then Marty Frk with a bullet from the circle, the puck came back to Terry who appeared to snap a shot in just under the bar, but play continued and no goals was counted. Great play by Dylan McIlrath under pressure in his own zone to fight off the forecheckers and clear the puck. Grand Rapids the beneficiaries of two straight powerplays, peppering Forsberg with shots, but unable to get one past him. Terry nice defensive play to break up a two-man rush. Drop pass by Matt Ford to Frk, the late man, for a chance that surprised Forsberg. Late in the period, Frk picked off a pass and sprung Ford on a breakaway. Ford in close, made a head-and-shoulders fake and buried it stick side. Shots on goal: GR 20 - Rock 5.
Frk sprung for a chance but the puck rolled off his stick to stifle a dangerous scoring chance. Ford got mugged in the corner with no call, and the Griffins' captain was complaining to the officials. Colin Campbell won a battle behind the net against two IceHogs, stole the puck and centered for Carter Camper. Dominic Turgeon with a shot that hit Forsberg high and bounced way up and out of harms way. Jake Chelios with a rare turnover, dove to sacrifice the body and take the puck back. Shorthanded two-on-one with Campbell and Turgeon, but the pass across was just a little off. After carrying play for most of the game and being unable to score, you could feel that the tide was about to change. David Pope went off for high-sticking and Rockford took advantage of the late powerplay, when Luke Johnson snagged a clearing attempt and buried a shot past Rybar to regain the lead 2-1. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Rock 7.
Early Griffins powerplay absolutely peppering Forsberg with shots. A few minutes later, Hicketts turned his back on Knott only to have him skate behind him and convert a centering pass for a 3-1 lead. Pope got smoked in the corner and Givani Smith took exception, working over Holland pretty good before skating back to the Griffins bench without a penalty. Saarijarvi got beat allowing a breakaway, but Rybar came up huge to make the stop, but Saarijarvi went to the box for a hooking call. Griffins playing out their normal script, turning up the gas late in the period. Turner Elson in front tipped a blast from Chelios in over Forsberg, stick side, to cut the lead to one. Rybar called to the bench for an extra attacker, but had to stop and head back as play went the other way. The Griffins had a golden chance in the dying second when a backdoor shot was headed into a wide open net and Rockford just got a stick on it. Time ran out for Grand Rapids as the IcHogs hung on for a 3-2 win. Shots on goal: GR 18 - Rock 8. For the game: GR 48 - Rock 20.
#15 Elson - #55 Ford - #91 Frk
#73 Puempel - #19 Camper - #25 Terry
#12 Pope - #23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#54 Smith - #39 Hulak - #65 Shine
#44 Cholowski - #27 Chelios/#2 Hicketts
#4 Sulak - #9 Saarijarvi/#52 McIlrath
#2 Hicketts - #52 McIlrath
#27 Chelios - #9 Saarijarvi
Starter: #42 Rybar
Backup: #29 Sateri
#22 Megan - Veteran
#54 Smith - #55 Ford - #25 Terry
#91 Frk - #44 Cholowski
#15 Elson - #23 Turgeon - #19 Camper
#73 Puempel - #2 Hicketts
#23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell/
#2 Hicketts - #52 McIlrath/#2 Hicketts
#39 Hulak - #65 Shine
#4 Sulak - #27 Chelios
Another tough loss for the griffins who fell to 3rd place. They put a ton of shots on Forsberg, who looked outstanding, but the IceHogs goalie was not the reason for the loss as GR got sloppy defensive play from several defenseman, most notably Vili Saarijarvi, who has not looked very good for awhile. When Hronek returns from Detroit at the end of the season, Saarijarvi may be the player who comes out of the lineup. He has regressed this season, and for a player with his gifts, it is tough to note how often he is standing around watching play and gets caught flat footed. A certain amount of defensive mishaps might be acceptable if he was providing offense or keying the transition game, which he is not. Saarijarvi was far from alone on the evening as Joe Hicketts made a gaffe that directly led to a goal, and Libor Sulak had a few shaky moments that luckily did not result in a goal. At this point in the season, the same players should not be making the same mistakes and it is frustrating to watch.
On the other side of that spectrum, Givani Smith had another solid night and even saw some powerplay time. He looked very confident with the puck, and played a physical game without spending time in the box. David Pope showed some more life in his latest stint in the lineup, he was slotted into a prime spot on the left side with Turgeon and Campbell, which seems to a Ben Simon play to get slumping players going. He ended up with three shots on goal, and was noticeable at times, working hard in the corners and behind the net.
Marty Frk led the way with 8 shots on goal and several more that hit opposing players or were redirected in front. He had a smile on his face and played with an edge, which is usually when he is most successful. He was exceptionally dangerous on the powerplay opposite Chris Terry as the two snipers fed off each other for scoring chances.