Tangradi's Overtime Marker Lifts Listless Griffins Over Rockford 4-3|
Coach Nelson notches 300th AHL win...
By Jason Kasiorek
March 16th, 2018
The Grand Rapids had luck on their side, claiming a 4-3 overtime win they had no business winning. After a good first period, the team only managed six shots on goal over the last 40 minutes. This has been a disturbing pattern as of late and not typical of a Todd Nelson coached team, where the team has a great first period and then goes to sleep. The win was Nelson's 300th AHL victory, moving him into 20th all time. The Griffins got strong netminding from Thomas McCollum who made 29 stops in the win, while Matt Ford (22), Matt Lorito (20), Ben Street (16) and Eric Tangradi (26) provided the offense.
Dylan McIlrath with a big hit on Bouma along the boards in the early going. Grand Rapids had a great scoring chance in front and Delia didn't look sure he had it so several Griffins whacked away at his pads, drawing a crowd and Hicketts got knocked to the ice as they cleared out the front of the net. Choppy play through most of the period with a lot of play in the middle and neither team able to generate much in the way of prolonged pressure. DiDomenico got a break in on McCollum, but the Griffins netminder made a big save to keep the game scoreless. Nice play by Dylan Sadowy on the powerplay, he used his speed to exploit the Rockford defense, carried deep into the zone, then circled the net and centered for a good scoring chance. Bad angle shot and the puck bounced between Delia's legs and right out the other side, just missing the net. Luke Esposito battling in the corner, dug the puck out and centered for Ford. Ford cut through the crease, made a slick forehand backhand move to freeze Delia, then skated past him and tucked it into the empty net for a 1-0 lead. Shots on goal: GR 13 - Rock 9
The Griffins took advantage of an early powerplay in the second period to extend the lead to two. Matt Puempel put a long shot on net with Tangradi in front. The puck took a Griffins bounce right to Lorito on the other side of the net and he buried it, low glove side for his 20th of the campaign. Lorito was reward with a high stick to the face as the puck bulged the twine, with no call. McCollum stopped a flurry of shots as the IceHogs started to take over the game. Vili Saarijarvi tried to pinch at the line and and allowed a breakaway from center ice in on McCollum, but the big netminder stood his ground and made the stop. Rockford cut the lead to one late in the period when Svedberg fired a bomb from the point that snuck by McCollum with Martinsen screening in front. Play starting to get chippy! lots of scrums and little shots behind the play and between the whistles. Shots on goal: GR 4 - Rock 10.
Griffins best work of the night has been when killing penalties. Nice shorthanded chance by Campbell off some great work with Turgeon. Grand Rapids with no shots on goal for the period almost 8 minutes in. They are not skating and just seem to be holding on. Still no shots 10 and half minutes in, Rockford controlling play and the Griffins just have no life. Svedberg scores his second of the game on a similar play to his first, firing a long shot on goal with traffic in front to know the score at 2. GR with a powerplay midway through the 3rd with Knott in the box for high-sticking. Matt Lorito fired a bad angle shot from the corner that Street in front got a piece of. The puck hit the defenseman's skate and slid into the net to restore a 1 goal lead, on the Griffins first shot of the period. IceHogs timeout with 1:47 left and when they returned to the ice they left Delia on the bench for the extra skater. Rockford tied the score again at three each when Franson's point shot was tipped in front by Johnson, and off the post into the net with 41 seconds remaining. Shots on goal: GR 2 - Rock 10.
Hronek set up a great play and just fanned on the return pass in the slot. Clendening got open in front and rang a shot off the post. Big diving save by McCollum on DiDomenico as Rockford had a couple of good chances. Tangradi carried the puck behind his own net and was taken down with no call. Tangradi took matters into his own hands, winning a battle in the corner and coming out with the puck. He cruised through the slot and wristed a shot in over Delia for a 4-3 win. Shots on goal: GR 3 - Rock 3. For the game: GR 22 - Rock 32.
#26 Tangradi - #10 Street - #73 Puempel
#55 Ford - #19 Esposito - #28 Lorito
#29 Sadowy - #47 Elkins - #65 Shine
Various - #23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#5 Russo - #13 Hronek
#20 Renouf- #52 McIlrath
#18 Lashoff - #2 Hicketts
Starter: #30 McCollumy
Backup: #34 Machovsky
#15 Elson - Injured
Tangradi - Street - Lorito
Puempel - Hronek
Saarijarvi - Ford - Sadowy
Russo - Hicketts
Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - McIlrath
Ford - Elkins
Renouf - Hicketts
Eric Tangradi was perhaps the best player on the ice for either team. He was on top of his game, playing with fire and using his size. The game winner was an individual effort and really drew the crowd out of their seats.
Dylan Sadowy was also noticeable, he looked very engaged, using his speed to carry the puck up ice, and displayed his gritty side, battling in front of the net and the corners. If he keeps up this level of play and intensity, the points should not be far behind.
Also have to say that in limited ice time, Esposito had a high energy game. He was crashing the net and really up on his toes. He hit anything in a red sweater and really looked reminiscent of Bertuzzi at times.