Tangradi leads Griffins over Tucson 4-1|
Griffins win clinches playoff birth...
By Jason Kasiorek
April 7th, 2018
Eric Tangradi scored a pair of early goals to lead the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins over the Tucson Roadrunners in the comfy confines of the Tucson Convention Center Arena. The win gave the Griffins a split in Tucson and clinched a third straight playoff appearance under coach Todd Nelson. Thomas McCollum stood tall in the net, ringing up his 19th win of the season while holding off the surging roadrunners late in the game as they pressured. Turner Elson broke a lengthy goal drought to score his 9th and Dan Renouf added his 1st of the season to add to the margin of victory.
Grand Rapids got off to a good start and seemed to be more energized than they were in Fridays game against these same roadrunners. Eric Tangradi snuck in back door and took a nice Ben Street feed from the boards, staking the visiting Griffins to a 1-0 lead. Thomas McCollum came way out of the net to break up a scoring chance with a long poke check. Grand Rapids on the powerplay and Tangradi with a nice play in front to convert a Matt Ford pass from the circle for his second of the game. Midway through the period the Griffins turned the puck over and Camper found Crouse in the slot. Lawson Crouse used his big body to shield the puck then spun in the slot and snapped a shot past McCollum to pull within one goal. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Tucson 5.
Grand Rapids struck again, less than a minute into the second period. Turner Elson with a big hit, stole the puck, went to the slot and snapped a shot past Miska to extend the lead to three. Tangradi with speed into the circle and a big blast that hit Miska. Dan Renouf rifled a shot up the middle that eluded Miska for his first goal of the season. That spelled the end of the night for Miska as he was dispatched to the showers for Adin Hill. Two-on-one for the roadrunners, but Filip Hronek made a great play to break it up. Loose puck in front of the roadrunners' cage and Elson crashed the net for a nice chance in traffic. Great roadrunners scoring chance with McCollum way out of position. Elson with a diving block in front of the empty cage to keep it out. McCollum scrambling around made a highlight reel save with his toe. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Tucson 10.
Grand Rapids with an early 4-2 break in on Hill but didn't get a good scoring chance. McCollum acrobatic trying to hold off the surging Roadrunners. Lashoff upended by Garland setting up a late Griffins man-advantage chance. Camper with a full on breakaway in on McCollum but missed the net. Esposito elbowed a roadrunners forward along the boards touching off a big scrum. Russo was in the middle of it throwing punches and grappling with several players. Tucson tried to get back into it by pulling their goalie for an extra skater with over two minutes left in the game. Tangradi set up in good position and missed the empty net for the hat trick chance. He was clearly upset with himself for missing a tap in. Shots on goal: GR 1 - Tucson 8. For the game: GR 23 - Cle 23.
#26 Tangradi - #10 Street - #73 Puempel
#55 Ford - #19 Esposito - #77 Svechnikov
#15 Elson - #23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell
#25 Holmstrom - #47 Elkins - #37 Nastasiuk
#5 Russo - #13 Hronek
#20 Lashoff- #52 McIlrath
#20 Renouf - #2 Hicketts
Starter: #30 McCollum
Backup: #34 Machovsky
#4 Sulak - Injured Lower Body
#28 Lorito - Injured Knee
Tangradi - Street - Ford
Puempel - Hronek
Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - McIlrath
Elson - Elkins
Renouf - Hicketts
The team seemed to have a bit more intensity than they did Friday night, and it was enough to put them over the top against a quick and talented roadrunners team. The Roadrunners faithful around us were talking quite about about the way Tangradi can take over a game, but also marveled over the high speed plays that GR executed. My party and I were treated extremely well by the roadrunners fans, even deep in the heart of the season ticket holders rowdy 205 section.
It was nice to see Turner Elson and Dan Renouf break some lengthy goal droughts, Renouf with his first of the season and Elson scored his first since December 1st. The Griffins grit looked to be the difference as they banged the roadrunners around and created scoring scoring by being physical.