Bertuzzi Scores Two to Help Sink Admirals 5-2|
Griffins take 2-0 series lead...
By Jason Kasiorek
April 23, 2017
Tyler Bertuzzi has a history of elevating his game in the post-season, counting 14 goals in just 23 playoff games coming into this series. He didn't disappoint in game two, adding two more to his totals including the game winner to help lift the Grand Rapids Griffins over the visiting Milwaukee Admirals 5-2 and take a 2-0 series lead in the best of five Central Division Semi-finals. Eric Tangradi (1) got the Griffins on the board just 25 second in, and they never looked back, also getting tallies from Axel Holmstrom (1st career AHL playoff goal) and Matthew Ford (2). Jared Coreau had a good game stopping 21 of 23 including several big stops with Milwaukee pressing in the third with an extra attacker.
Grand Rapids got penned in their own zone for most of the first shift then Tangradi got sprung one on one. The power forward used the defenseman as a screen to snipe a shot past Mazanec, stick-side. Milwaukee got it right back when several Admirals were allowed position in front and Kamenev had 2 or 3 whacks at it before it went in the Griffins net. Great pass by Svechnikov to Holmstrom in front, and he went down on one knee to stroke it in for a 2-1 lead. Strong pressure by Tangradi and Callahan cycling the puck and creating chances. McIlrath got taken down in the corner leading to a Griffins powerplay. Colin Campbell with a wraparound try but Mazanec made the save. Svechnikov on the forecheck surprised the defender, putting him into the boards and stripping the puck away and walked out for a nice scoring chance. The Admirals were trying to bait Bertuzzi into a fight at both ends of the ice with first Liambas and then Payerle. With Bertuzzi in the box, Callahan was jawing back and forth with Liambas by the benches. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Mil 7.
Griffins 4-on-4, Nosek beat the defender and made a sick move in front of Mazanec to drag it into scoring position but had it roll off his stick. Big scrum as Liambas tried to get at McIlrath and people started squaring off. Campbell thrashed Dougherty, taking him to the ice once and then letting up before having to pull the sweater over his head to stop him from coming back. On the ensuing Griffins powerplay Bertuzzi made pretty significant contact with Mazanec trying to get to the puck and ended up in the box. The Griffins killed off the penalty and Bertuzzi came out of the box for a 2 on 1 with Criscuolo. Bertuzzi fired a laser past Mazanec stick side, giving Grand Rapids a 3-1 lead. Svechnikov picked up a rebound and put a shot right off the post. Svechnikov another great chance on a redirect n the slot. Griffins have carried play for most of the period and the frustration for Milwaukee is very visible Murphy went after Svechnikov after the buzzer and the two grappled for a few minutes before Murphy dropped the gloves and punched him once. Shots on goal: GR 14 - Mil 5.
Grand Rapids started the third with the man-advantage and had a couple of nice chances by Ford but couldn't extend the lead. Jared Coreau came out to play the puck, but Florek anticipated and picked off the pass, causing Coreau to have to scramble to recover. Callahan had an incredible shift, stealing the puck and creating a couple of scoring chances, while hitting everything in an opposing sweater. Svechnikov impressive blocking shots in front of the net as Milwaukee going all out to score. Colin Campbell and Dominic Turgeon kept possession of the puck deep in the Milwaukee zone for over a minute of a GR penalty kill, getting a round of applause form the crowd. Gaudreau got free in the circle, drifted in and wristed a shot past Coreau, glove-side to cut the lead to one. Mazanec to the bench with 1:34 left and a faceoff deep in the Grand Rapids zone. Callahan stole the puck and fired it the length of the ice but missed the empty net, so the play came back to the GR end again. Callahan again with a steal and this time hit Bertuzzi who skated in and put a shot into the empty net to restore the two goal lead. Mazanec out again and Tangradi carried in out 2-on-1 with Matthew Ford. Tangradi drew the defender and then passed to Ford who buried it for a 5-2 win. Shots on goal: GR 6- Mil 11. For the Game: GR 28 - Mil 23.
12 forwards - 6 defense
Bertuzzi - Nosek - Lorito
Tangradi - Street - Callahan
Svechnikov - Criscuolo - Holmstrom
Ford - Turgeon - Campbell
Paetsch - Hicketts
Lashoff - Russo
Renouf - McIlrath
#11 Cleary - Veteran
#27 Frk - Injury
Ford - Nosek - Svechnikov/Ford
Lorito - Street
Tangradi - Callahan - Holmstrom
Bertuzzi - Russo
Turgeon - Campbell
Paetsch - Lashoff
Ford - Nosek
Renouf - McIlrath
Milwaukee got behind early and really lost its composure for a large chunk of the game, seemingly more interested in head hunting and sending a physical message than in scoring any goals. The Griffins stood up to the attack, and carried play for most of the night. Coach Evason must have gotten through to his team in the second intermission as Milwaukee went on the attack and made the game feel much closer that it really was before yielding a pair of empty netters for the final margin.
The Griffins size and speed were again factors as players like Campbell, Tangradi and Callahan really were able to control play, using their strength to bull to the net and win battles in the corner and along the boards. Likewise on the back end Lashoff, McIlrath, Renouf and Paetsch battled and used their size to not let Milwaukee get set up for a scoring opportunity. At times it looked like the Admirals would have two Griffins on them every time they came across the line. One would make contact and the other would send the puck back up ice. Nosek and Bertuzzi seem to really have developed some good chemistry and I lost count of the number of times one would set the other up in the zone for a great scoring chance.