Griffins Ride Hronek's Hot Hand to 6-4 Win|
Campbell's hat tricks helps down Monsters...
By Jason Kasiorek
April 14th, 2018
The home looked to be undermanned on paper, missing 20 goal scorer Matt Lorito and key center Dominic Turgeon to injury. But several other players answered the bell tonight to lift the Griffins to a 6-4 win over the visiting Cleveland Monsters. Filip Hronek capped off an excellent rookie season by scoring his 11 of the season and three assists for a career high 4 point night to grab a share of the franchise rookie record for points by a defenseman. Grinder Colin Campbell scored his 2nd career hat trick to reach 10 goals on the season, and surging rookie Dominik Shine potted his third goal in his last two games. Jared Coreau, making what could be his last regular season start in Grand Rapids, stopped 19 shots for his 21st win of the season and 85th career victory.
Rookie phenom Filip Hronek got things early in the first, popping in his 11th of the season just 44 seconds into the game.Hronek forced a turnover, picked off a pass, split the D and backhanded a shot past Kivlenieks for a 1-0 lead. There was a problem with the ice behind the Griffins net, and they eventually cleared the ice and brought the zamboni back out to try and get it right. Libor Sulak knocked a forechecker on his butt along the boards with a solid hit. Jared Coreau with a huge stop point blank. Tangradi the other way made a great play to draw everyone to him and then feather a pass to Street in the slot for a dangerous chance. Sulak with another big hit took away the puck and then made an errant pass and had to hustle back to take away the scoring chance. Mike Borkowski with a lot of jump, really pushing the pace, especially on the forecheck. Zach Nastasiuk great work in front made a play and then used his body to protect the puck, drawing the defender and then spun and hit Campbell with a perfect pass for a pretty goal, back door. Evgeny Svechnikov high-sticked in front of the net and no call. He went to the room for repairs, but returned to the game. Long drive by Dylan McIlrath and he charged in on net and almost had a chance at his own rebound. Shots on goal: GR 17 - Cle 8.
Cleveland pulled back within one just 23 seconds into the second when Naas skated across the front of the net and slid the puck through Coreau, five-hole. Svechnikov scrumming behind the net and would not back down, he got a couple of shots in and eventually went to the box by himself. Two Cleveland players collided heavily at the line, and Sulak swooped in and picked up the puck. The big blueliner drove to the net and put a heavy shot on Kivlenieks, then Campbell buried the rebound for his second of the game. The Griffins pushed the lead to 4-1 when Dominik Shine fished the puck out of Savage's feat in front of the net, spun, and snapped a shot past Kivlenieks. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Cle 8.
Grand Rapids just missed a chance to pull ahead 5-1 when Turner Elson beat Kivlenieks but rang the shot off the post behind him. Hronek got roughed up in the corner and took exception, grappling with Savage and pulling his helmet off. Both ended up in the boxes leading to a 4-on-4 situation. Griffins defensive breakdown left Carlson all alone up the middle, he took a pass and walked around Coreau, tucking the puck into the net behind him. Saarijarvi with a weak chance that he telegraphed by holding too long was blocked and down the ice into the GR zone. Ben Street took a stretch pass behind the D, blazed and in and went top shelf to push the score to 5-2. Cleveland answered right back with Naas scoring his second of the game, taking advantage of traffic in front to sneak a shot past Coreau. Sulak with another big point shot just went wide. Campbell misfired on a one-timer right in front and then Street fanned on the rebound. The Griffins ended up with a late 5-on-3 powerplay but didn't even generate any decent scoring chances. Two-on-one Cleveland and McIlrath took the shooter, leaving Somerby wide open. The Monsters' defenseman took the pass for an easy tap-in, notching his first goal of the year. Kivlenieks out for the extra skater late in the third. Colin Campbell skated with a steal, skated the puck out of his own end and wired it into the empty net to complete the hat trick and seal a 6-4 win. Shots on goal: GR 9 - Cle 7. For the game: GR 36 - Cle 23.
#26 Tangradi - #10 Street - #77 Svechnikov
#25 Holmstrom - # 21 Borkowski - #45 Campbell
#19 Esposito - #15 Elson - #73 Puempel
#65 Shine - #47 Elkins - #37 Nastasiuk
#18 Lashoff - #13 Hronek
#20 Renouf - # 9 Saarijarvi
#4 Libor Sulak - #52 McIlrath
Starter: #31 Coreau
Backup: #30 McCollum
#23 Turgeon - Injured - Thoracic Compartment Syndrome
#28 Lorito - Injured - Knee
Tangradi - Street - Campbell
Puempel - Hronek
Elson - Holmstrom - Esposito
Sulak - Saarijarvi
Elson - Campbell
Lashoff - McIlrath
Borkowski - Elkins
Renouf - Sulak
After a good first period the Griffins reverted back to sloppy play, throughout the second and third, and were really lucky to walk away with the win. That being said, this game also had many positive aspects, not the least of which was the high level of play of several of the bottom six forwards. Zach Nastasiuk played another strong game and made a couple of nice plays with the puck that showed off his hands and ability to use his size to get position and create chances. Dominik Shine was another player who has lifted his level of play as of late. While he has provided some offense, his true value is probably in his ability to pick off passes and break up plays on the forecheck. His energy and willingness to stick his nose in are contagious. Mike Borkowski had a very good night even though it won't show up on the scoresheet. He was noticeable all night, providing energy and hitting. His speed and dogged perseverance had opposing players looking over their shoulders when he was on the ice. He also did a good job in the circle on draws, which was one of the reasons he was in the lineup as the team is short of centers.
Libor Sulak had another impressive game. For a man of his size, he is a good skater and gets where he is going quick quickly. He made some great defensive plays and looked very steady. Sulak used his size well and knocked a couple of Cleveland players down, but wasn't overly aggressive. He and Dylan McIlrath made an imposing pair due to their size and reach. Coach nelson is going to have his hands full deciding on which six defenders to dress during the post-season.
Hronek capped off an impressive rookie campaign with his four point night. Despite some reports from earlier in the season, his game has really improved at both ends of the ice and he may have played his way into a job out of training camp with the parent Red Wings. Over the last 38 games he rang up 9 goals and 17 assists for 26 points and was a +15.
On the other side of the ledger, Vili Saarijarvi however had another disappointing night and may now be the 8th defender on the depth chart. He made some bad decisions with the puck and just was not engaged at the level he needs to be.
Dennis Cholowski will be reporting to the Griffins next week adding another body into the mix on an already crowded backend. Coach Nelson said he is not committed to playing him unless he outplays people during practice and forces them to play him.