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Griffins Fall In Five To Moose
5-1 Loss to Manitoba closes out season...
By Jason Kasiorek
April 30th, 2018

The clock struck midnight on the Griffins season, as the Manitoba Moose piled on for a 5-1 series closing win. In the end there were just too many key pieces missing to allow Grand Rapids to escape the first round. Missing top players Eric Tangradi (suspension), Dominic Turgeon (injury), Axel Holmstrom (injury) and Matt Lorito (injury), the reigning Calder Cup Champions could not muster enough offense to keep the Moose at bay. Matt Puempel provided the lone goal for the Griffins on the powerplay. Netminder Jared Coreau was solid in the loss, despite the score, as he was hung out to dry several times.

Griffins very tentative and shaky in the early going, disorganized and running around. Filip Hronek lost his man at the line, setting up a Moose two on one. Russo didn't take away the pass, and the puck ended up in the net behind Coreau for a 1-0 lead. The Moose were buzzing around the Griffins net creating chances. Lipon beat Coreau with a shot that hit the post behind him and stayed out. Esposito weaved his way through the defense and went in on Comrie for a shot. Great work by Hronek at the point on the powerplay. He dug the puck out of traffic, made a couple of heads up passes and did a great job of holding it in at the line. Very smart decision making and shot selection then ended up feeding Puempel for a blast that beat Comrie glove-side to tie the score at one. Esposito blew up Sgarbossa with a big open ice hit. Steal by street in the corner, then made a perfect pass to Campbell in front for a great chance. Two-on-none back into the GR zone, but Hronek had an angle and took the puck away before being dumped by Kostalik. Elson with a bad angle chance at an empty net after Comrie came out to challenge him and got caught. Russo with a big point shot that didn't get through, then another chance right off the faceoff at the buzzer. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Man 10.

Comrie way out of the net again to play the puck and got caught out again, having to hustle back to stop a Ben Street chance. Evgeny Svechnikov wide open in front, took a feed from Elson and fired it wide. Svechnikov has looked awful and can't buy a goal. Lashoff broke a stick and Elson handed him his. The issue was that it was the wrong handed stick. Lashoff tried to clear and couldn't get anything on the puck, he was having a tough time trying to work off the backhand. The Toledo line of Nastasiuk-Borkowski-Esposito providing energy flying around throwing checks and generally being a nuisance to the Moose. Shine with a big hit and then sent to the box for boarding. Giveaway in front and a big stop by Coreau. Lemieux cross checked Hicketts in the face and ended up in the box, negating the rest of the Moose powerplay. Hronek had the puck picked off his stick, last man back at the line, but recovered to take away the pass and Coreau handled the shooter to break up an odd man break. Two great stops by Coreau, right on the door step as the GR defense looked sloppy again. Beauvillier had a breakaway in alone on Coreau but fired the puck right into the Griffins netminder. Schilling left open to the side of the net for an easy back door goal and a 2-1 Manitoba lead. Shots on goal: GR 9 - Man 13.

Svechnikov turned the puck over right in front of the net and Coreau had to be quick to make the save. Dylan McIlrath high-sticked for the second time while trying to dig the puck out of the GR zone, putting the Griffins on the powerplay. Grand Rapids with a flurry of chances in front, but couldn't solve Comrie. Russo gave away the puck next to the net for an easy goal as the game began to get out of hand. Lemieux pounced on a rebound in front to put the nail in the coffin with a 4-1 lead. Coreau to the bench with over four minutes remaining, but De Leo scored into the empty net to extend the lead to 5-1. Mercifully the clock ran down before the margin could be increased. The Griffins gathered at center ice for the traditional handshake and then saluted the crowd for the last time this season. Shots on goal: GR 15 - Man 7. For the game: GR 35 - Man 30.

#55 Ford - #15 Elson - #77 Svechnikov
#45 Campbell - #10 Street - #73 Puempel
#65 Shine - #47 Elkins - #37 Nastasiuk
#29 Sadowy/#37 Nastasiuk - #21 Borkowski - #19 Esposito

#18 Lashoff - #52 McIlrath
#20 Renouf - # 2 Hicketts
#13 Hronek - #5 Russo
#9 Saarijarvi

Starter: #31 Coreau
Backup: #30 McCollum

#4 Sulak
#9 Saarijarvi
#17 Crawford
#23 Turgeon - Injured - Thoracic Compartment Syndrome
#26 Tangradi - Suspended
#25 Holmstrom - Injured
#28 Lorito - Injured - Knee
#34 Fazio
#44 Cholowski

Ford - Street - Svechnikov
Puempel - Hronek

Sadowy - Elson - Esposito
Russo - Hicketts

Elson - Campbell
Lashoff - McIlrath

Ford - Elkins
Renouf - Hicketts


Coach Nelson gets high marks for getting this team to the playoffs, overcoming many obstacles. At one point they were so far back after an awful start that the postseason was in doubt. In the end the hockey gods made up for last years run and there were too many obstacles to overcome.

Lots of changes coming over the offseason, with many familiar names leaving. Some by choice, some maybe not. While I will say that Russo and Svechnikov had awful games in game 5, I will wait a few days before starting that article.

Official Game Sheet