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Another Lackluster Effort Dooms Griffins 4-1
Ritola scores only Griffins goal in fifth straight loss...
By Jason Kasiorek

Despite the shots on goal differential, Houston dominated the Griffins in handing them their fifth straight loss since falling out of playoff contention. Former Wings camp tryout Joel Ward led the way for Houston with a goal and two assists, while Mattias Ritola scored the only goal for Grand Rapids. Jimmy Howard didn't have much help, but wasn't particularly sharp, giving up 4 goals on 23 shots.

Houston got on the board early as Ward and Hamilton on the rush made a nice play. Galvin got beat by Hamilton who took a pass behind the defense and sucked out Howard, sliding the puck into the cage for a 1-0 lead. Torquato got smoked and almost couldn't get off the ice, he would return but didn't play much. Griffins turnover in their own zone led to Ward chipping a shot over Howard to go ahead by two. The Griffins started to turn things up in the last eight minutes of the period after getting badly outplayed early. Late in the period, Ritola walked out from behind the goal line and wristed a shot that trickled through Brust to put the Griffins on the board. Shots on Goal: GR 14 - Hou 6.

Play in the Griffins end for most of the period, Houston pressing and GR can't get anything going at all. Foster tried to follow the puck into Howard, which drew a crowd, but it was quickly broken up. Hamilton had a free pass at the net as he was left alone in front to score an easy goal making it 3-1. Redenbach had a good chance for Grand Rapids late in the period but was wiped out on the breakaway, and GR could not score on the ensuing powerplay. Shots on Goal: GR 5 - Hou 11.

The Griffins found themselves in penalty trouble in the third as things boiled over and Galvin especially started headhunting. He threw a major league elbow, following up an earlier boarding call as part of his 8 minutes in the box. Quincey also was part of the penalty parade, after getting caught for a couple of wicked cross-checks. Houston put the nail in the coffin on their third powerplay of the period, Awe blistered a shot from the top of the slot that was tipped through traffic by Clutterbuck past Howard for a 4-1 lead. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Hou 6. For the Game: GR 30 - Hou 23.

Ritola - Helm - Corazzini
O'Leary - Emmerton - Redenbach
Tardif - McGrath - Lemieux/Gelech Gelech/O'Leary - Torquato - Redenbach

Ericsson - Stafford
Quincey - Galvin
Kindl - Jozsa

Starter: Howard
Backup: Berkhoel

Ference - wrist
Cullen - Shoulder

Ritola - Helm - Corazzini
Stafford - Ericsson

Tardif - McGrath - Redenbach
Jozsa - Kindl/Quincey

Helm - Corazzini
Quincey - Kindl/Jozsa

O'Leary/Redenbach/Ritola - Tardif
Stafford - Ericsson

McGrath - Redenbach


Except for two eight minute stretches in the game, the Griffins looked like they were running the clock down on an awful season. Helm, Emmerton and Quincey stood out above the pack in terms of having some jump/caring about the outcome of the game.

The usually mild-mannered Tom Galvin sure got set off. He was running around trying to put the hurt on Houston, unfortunately 4 penalties and a powerplay goal later it wasn't much help.

I can't believe the difference in Cory Emmerton's skating since his cameo here last season. His acceleration and agility have gotten much better, and his speed while not rink wide, has definitely gone up a few notches. Last season he looked like he had weights in skates with a slow plodding first step, this season he has quicker feet and gets off the mark much faster.

Official Game Sheet