Griffins Check Checkers Winning Streak in 2-1 Shootout Win|
Filip Hronek nets winning shoutout goal...
By Jason Kasiorek
April 12, 2017
The slumping Grand Rapids Griffins were looking to get back on track and hoping to do it by breaking the four game winning streak of the visiting Charlotte Checkers. Former Grand Rapids Netminder Thomas McCollum was the story of the game through the first 65 minutes stopping an astonishing 42 shots including 18 in the second period. With the score tied at two apiece in the 4th round of the shootout, rookie defender Filip Hronek showed off his skill with a jaw dropping goal to give the Griffins a 2-1 win. Veteran Matt Ford scored his 13th of the season in the win.
The first period was pretty shaky for both teams as neither really had much spark. The Griffins got most of their shots for the period on an early power play and then looked pretty docile. The Checkers scored their first goal of the game when Poturalski was allowed to skate in and make his way around the net unchallenged. Coreau was down in the butterfly and didn't get over very quickly leaving a wide open cage for the wraparound goal. The Griffins were shaky in their own end and Coreau looked to be battling himself as much as anything else. Evgeny Svechnikov hit Matt Lorito with a great pass in the slot, but he was pushed off the puck before he could get a shot off. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Cha 10.
The Griffins came out to start the second with a lot more jump and right from the opening faceoff started to take the puck to McCollum. Kyle Criscuolo shot in on net and tried to sneak the puck in next to the post, then Axel Holmstrom came late and tried to lift it over McCollum's pad, but couldn't get it done. Ford opportunistic around the net picked a bouncing puck and poked it through, short-side, to tie the score at one each. Huge open ice hit by Robbie Russo on Miller. Joe Hicketts put a hip into a checkers forward and sent him flying as the physical play starts to ramp up. Nice chance by Colin Campbell as the late man coming up the slot. Grand Rapids with a 5-on-3 advantage putting a ton of shots on McCollum, but can't get the puck past him. Shots on goal: GR 19 - Cha 3.
Svechnikov with a big wrister from the circle that hit mCCollum and just stayed out. Then Mitch Callahan had a drive that hit the crossbar and went to the side of the net. Off the faceoff Russo teed up a big shot that hit McCollum and fell next to him in the crease. Several Griffins tried to jam it in but McCollum managed to keep it from crossing the line. With 40 seconds left in the period, McCollum caught the puck and tossed it aside, right onto the stick of Street who fired a shot that just went through the crease and stayed out. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Cha 7.
Charlotte had a couple of good chances at the start of overtime before the Griffins started to take over. Joe Hicketts sprung Ford in alone on McCollum for a great chance. Then Criscuolo tried to chip in the rebound and another save by the Checkers netminder. Charlotte got behind the D 3-on-3 and beat Coreau with a shot, but it hit the crossbar. Two-on-one Svechnikov and Holmstrom but Holmstrom only got a weak shot off that was easily stopped. Hicketts great in overtime, setting up several good scoring chances.Shots on goal: GR 4 - Cha 4.
Zykov was the first shooter for Charlotte, cruising in and firing a shot through Coreau five-hole to take the lead. Svechnikov countered fro Grand Rapids, cutting in from the side and deking McCollum out before sliding the puck in under him. Miller skated straight in on Coreau and beat him stick-side to restore the lead. Matt Lorito made a nice move to get McCollum moving and then put it between his legs to knot things at two each. Former Griffin Kris Newbury started the third round, firing the puck right into Coreau's chest. Holmstrom was next for the griffins and rang a shot off McCollum's pads. Di Giuseppe tried to put a low shot by Coreau but it was deflected up and over the net. Filip Hronek was the fourth shooter for GR and he skated in on McCollum, faked stopping and deked McCollum out of his pads, freezing the netminder who then fell forward, leaving a wide open cage for the rookie to score the shootout winner. Shots on goal: GR 1 - Cha 0. For the Game: GR 44 - Cha 24.
12 forwards - 6 defense
Ford - Street - Callahan
Svechnikov - Nosek - Lorito
#9 Axel Holmstrom - Criscuolo - Campbell
Sadowy - Turgeon - Borkowski
Lashoff - Russo
Paetsch - Hronek
#11 Cleary - Veteran
#20 Renouf - Suspension
#26 Tangradi - Injury
#27 Frk - Injury
#39 Bertuzzi - Injury
Ford - Nosek - Lorito
Russo - Street
Holmstrom - Criscuolo - Callahan
Svechnikov - Hicketts/Hronek
Turgeon - Campbell
Paetsch - Lashoff
Ford - Campbell
Russo - McIlrath
Sadowy - Borkowski
It didn't look like the Griffins were ever going to get a puck past Thomas McCollum, he was at the top of his game and made some very difficult saves. He played well enough to win, but the goal by Hronek was sick, and if that is a sign of things to come, the rookie blueliner i going to be quite a player.
The 19 games in Detroit, practicing and playing against NHL players has had a huge impact on Robbie Russo. He played with more pace and confidence, and his pretty good defensive game was greatly improved. His reads and positioning were noticeably better and he also appears to have added a bit of a physical element to his game , throwing a couple of big hits at the line. He also was more involved at the point, firing shots on net much more frequently.
The Griffins have two more games to get it together, and are battling a number of issues, including players returning form detroit, key players out with injury, a starting goalie who is battling his confidence level, and 12 extra players with the team. Hopefully this win was the start of that happening.