Athanasiou Sinks Admirals With Late Goal 3-1|
Special teams key win to keep streak alive...
By Jason Kasiorek
March 20th, 2015
As the streak continues the script stays the same for the Grand Rapids Griffins. For the second game in a row they gave up an early goal and then rallied back with three unanswered tallies for the win. The victory pushed the team's point streak to 19 nineteen games and winning netminder Thomas McCollum 's personal streak to 12 games without a loss. Martin Frk (4), Andreas Athanasiou (14) and Kevin Porter (12) scored for the home team.
Milwaukee drew first blood with a fluky goal, when Pendenza's shot hit McCollum, popped up, and then rolled down his back into the net. The Griffins got a couple of chances to even things up including a pair of very ineffective powerplay chances where the team seemed content to pass the puck around until they lost it without generating any shots. Late in the period Athanasiou with a great individual effort got the puck deep and then threaded the needle with a pinpoint pass to Martin Frk who was backing into the opposite circle. Frk sniped a shot between Hellberg's arm and the post for his 4th of the season. Great shorthanded chance by Nosek and Ferraro. The Griffins started to show some life during the penalty kill, playing better down a man. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Mil 10.
The game has a playoff feel to it as both teams are shutting things down and not allowing chances. The Griffins speed is the only edge as they are starting to wear down the Admirals and get more open ice. Tvrdon with speed got the puck deep and passed to the trailer, Jensen in the slot. Jensen had a big rip and Tvrdon picked up the rebound but fired it wide. Jensen and Ferraro on a shorthanded rush, Jensen made a nice move to ditch the defender and fired a shot from the slot off the post. Athanasiou beat the D into the zone and passed to Porter who was interfered with and couldn't get the shot off. Grand Rapids is absolutely dominant on the penalty kill, completely shutting the Admirals down and generating several quality scoring chances. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Mil 10.
Close checking third s more of the same as neither team had more than 2 shots halfway through the period. Tempers flaring as a big scrum broke out in front of McCollum. Huge stop by McCollum on a pair of shots from the edge of the paint. Griffins shorthanded again, this time for too may men on the ice. Physical battle the last few minutes of the game. The Griffins wind up with a powerplay with three minutes and change left. Athanasiou blazed in, cut towards the net and lasered a heavy shot between Hellberg's pads. Hellberg thought he stopped the shot and then looked behind him as the red light went on. Hellberg to the bench with a minute thirty left and then the Admirals called a timeout. Kevin Porter hounded the defenseman at the line and got the puck out, skating it over the line and then firing it into the empty net for a 3-1 victory. Shots on Goal: GR 5 - Mil 9. For the Game: GR 27 - Mil 29.
Tvrdon - Miele - Zengerle
Porter - Nosek - Ferraro
Frk - Athanasiou - Mantha
Hoggan - Aubry - Bruton
Lashoff - Jensen
Paetsch - Ouellet
Czarnowczan - Sproul
Callahan - ACL - Out for season
Mantha - Miele - Zengerle
Tvrdon - Ouellet
Hoggan - Nosek - Athanasiou
Paetsch - Frk
Nosek - Ferraro
Paetsch - Jensen
Athanasiou - Porter
Lashoff - Ouellet
At the start of the game, looking down at the bench at the six defenseman dressed, I remarked that it may have been the strongest blueline we have ever had in Grand Rapids at one time. Ouellet, Marchenko, Lashoff, Evans, Paetsch and Jensen. I also said that I might prefer Sproul over Jensen because of his powerplay shot, but Jensen had one of his best games of the season to put an exclamation point on that comment. The Griffins really used their speed in a big way tonight, and Jensen was at the forefront, outracing players for the puck, and even carrying it up ice to set up a couple of dangerous chances.
Speaking of speed, Andreas Athanasiou was the first star of the game whether he scored the goal or not. He was easily the most noticeable player on the ice for either team. He was aggressive in all three zones and can make plays at warp speed. It appears he has made the adjustment to this level of play and his thought processes are starting to find the holes more. One the things that illustrates this is that after a faceoff, everyone heads up ice, but Athanasiou goes the opposite way, circling around behind his own net to pick up speed and to get lost in the shuffle. He then appears at the perfect time in full stride to to take the puck to the net or pick off a pass to create a scoring chance. He is at his best with the extra ice while shorthanded, and had as many scoring chances in that capacity then the other team did on their powerplay. It took me awhile to warm up to this kid, but he is a keeper.
Thomas McCollum had another stellar game. The one goal he gave up was a fluke and he did not have much of a chance to stop it. he stood tall, and even helped set up the winning goal with his long clearing pass.
Louis-Marc Aubry played a big part in the win despite not showing up on the scoresheet. He is tough to play against and bring a lot of energy. In the last few weeks his game has climbed to another level as his intensity, consistency and physical play have grown considerably.
Also have to say it was nice to Evans back in the lineup after an extended absence due to injury. He is just such a steadying presence on the backend, and his steely glare is still capable of backing off tan opponent.