Griffins Roast IceHogs in 5-1 Blowout|
Griffins win 5th straight - Pulkkinen adds a pair...
By Jason Kasiorek
May 8th, 2015
Grand Rapids won its fifth straight game, handing the visiting Rockford IceHogs a convincing 5-1 defeat in the comfy confines of the freezer on Fulton, Van Andel Arena. The Griffins overcame an early deficit to score five unanswered goals including Teemu Pulkkinen's league leading 10th and 11th of the postseason. The home team's offense was also bolstered by captain Jeff Hoggan and Anthony Mantha scoring their 1st of the playoffs, and red hot Tyler Bertuzzi adding his 3rd. Thomas McCollum made 28 saves and survived an after the final buzzer attack by Pierre Cedric Labrie to record the win and garner 1st star honors.
2-on-1 early for the Griffins, Pulkkinen with a big blast and then Nosek came late and was taken down as he tried to fire the rebound in. The Griffins ended up with a power play. Pulkkinen with another big blast five hole that Leighton wasn't sure he stopped and looked behind himself. McCollum left the net to play the puck and ended up giving it away but got some help to keep it out until he made it back. Rockford drew first blood when the Griffins couldn't clear for quite awhile. Mashinter took a pass in the slot and got a shot off on one knee that cleanly beat McCollum, low stick-side. Bertuzzi got it back when he put a soft shot on net as he skated around behind, and Leighton gloved it in to his own net. Mantha sprung Athanasiou for a break, but Leighton just got a piece of it. Shots on goal: GR 7 - Rock 12.
The Griffins came out of the gate in period two with a lot more jump, laying Siege to the IceHogs net with several chances. Walters tried to hit Mantha along the boards and Mantha leaned in a bit and sent him flying like he hit a wall. Rockford pressuring McCollum who lost his stick, play went the other way with a two on one. Porter across to Mantha who picked a corner for a 2-1 lead. Hoggan with a scoring chance in close them he was cross checked to the ice by Svedberg. Scrum broke out with Hoggan pushing and shoving with Svedberg, and Nosek and McNeil grappling. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Rock 8.
Early in the period Pulkkinen got loose for a breakaway, cut in, deked Leighton and slid it home for a 3-1 lead. The captain was rewarded for his hard work midway through the period, picking up his 1st of the postseason. He cruised through the slot, picked up the rebound of a long Pulkkinen shot and backhanded it past Leighton. The IceHogs netminder promptly broke his stick in frustration. Aubry got taken down along the board by Svedberg and Hartman came in started jabbing away with his stick trying to get the puck out from under the fallen Griffins forward. Athanasiou skated over to help and was wiped out out by Hartman with an elbow. The end result of the ensuing scrum was that the IceHogs were down 2 men for two minutes. As the teams went back out for the opening faceoff, Labrie went by Pulkkinen and acted like he was going to jump him on the way back to the bench. Johns crosschecked Bertuzzi in front and sent him flying with no call. Leighton slashed Bertuzzi in the back of the legs, and Bertuzzi knocked the stick out of his hands and then was attacked by Danault. Pulkkinen capped the scoring on the powerplay, picking up a rebound at the edge of the paint and burying it for a 5-on-3 goal. Rockford self destructing with penalties and undisciplined play. Big scrum after the final whistle with Seabrook going after Mantha and Evans tying up with Labrie before the officials broke it up. On the way back to the benches, Labrie jumped McCollum which set off another scrum. Evans went right over and pulled Labrie out of the pile but had two icehogs hanging on him and couldn't mount much of an offensive. Eventually order was restored and the Griffins celebrated a 5-1 win. Shots on goal: GR 13 - Rock 9 . For the game: GR 30 - Rock 29.
Hoggan - Nosek - Pulkkinen
Porter - Athanasiou - Mantha
Bertuzzi - Miele - Zengerle
Tvrdon - Aubry - Hirschfeld
Lashoff - Jensen
Evans - Ouellet
Paetsch - Marchenko
Callahan - ACL - Out for season
Nastasiuk - Concussion
Hoggan - Miele - Zengerle
Paetsch - Pulkkinen
Tvrdon - Nosek - Athanasiou
Ouellet - Marchenko
Mantha - Aubry - Hirschfeld
Nosek - Aubry
Paetsch - Ouellet
Athanasiou - Porter
Lashoff - Jensen
The IceHogs were their own worst enemy, especially in the third period as they tried to physically intimidate and punish the Griffins to no avail. While I am not one to complain about the officiating, the last ten minutes of the game was ridiculous, and got that way because the officials put the whistles away early. If they would have called some of the blatant thuggery early, it may have settled things down later.
Anthony Mantha turned in a solid performance that hopefully will silence his critics a bit. He played physical and did a good job of engaging in the offensive zone. His goal was pretty and a heads up play. He ended up with four shots on goal, and several dangerous chances.
Aubry had another solid outing, and at times his line (the fourth line) was the most dangerous, really pushing possession and cycling the puck deep. They did not have much in the way of shots on goal, but really had Rockford back on their heels and were hard to play against. Hirschfeld also really hustling and strong on the forecheck and backcheck.
Brennan Evans really was a difference maker again on defense. He was airtight in his own zone, and was as feisty as ever, playing physical and even agitating the IceHogs bench at times. Labrie is very fortunate that the wily vet couldn't get loose for very long in the final scrum, saving him from a world of hurt after attacking McCollum.
Ouellet also gets a shout out. He had an off game in game one, but bounced right back and really looked good. He was aggressive and moved the puck well. He also was surly in his own end and did a great job of containing rushes and breaking up plays.