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Griffins Season Ends in 4-3 OT Loss to Monsters
GR can't hold off late Lake Erie rally...
By Jason Kasiorek
May 16th, 2016

The Grand Rapids Griffins playoff run finally ran out of magic as the Lake Erie monsters managed to rally from a 3-1 hole to to take a 4-3 overtime win, closing out game six and the series. The pesky griffins had fought off two elimination games to force a game 6, but were unable to take it to seven. Ryan Sproul opened the scoring for the home team capping off a dominant offensive run in the postseason for the speedy blueliner. Tomas Nosek and Xavier Ouellet also scored for Grand Rapids while a very feisty Jared Coreau stopped 43 shots to keep his team in long enough to make it to overtime.

The BAM line got the start for Grand Rapids. Just 37 seconds in, Lake Erie tried to clear and Ryan Sproul picked it off and stroked a shot from the point past Korpisalo for a 1-0 lead. The Monsters took a penalty for high-sticking Mark Zengerle in front of the net. Sproul ended up with a roughing minor after sticking up for his teammate, to kill the man advantage. Nosek with a great individual effort to fight his way into the zone before feeding Callahan for a great chance. Korpisalo gave up a big rebound on the save and Nosek buried it from the circle to give the Griffins a two goal cushion. Lake Erie's Zaar cut the lead to one when he fired a shot from the slot into traffic and it beat Coreau along the ice. Evgeny Svechnikov was the last man back on a 2-on-1, but made a heads up play to take away the pass and Coreau stopped the shot. Anthony Mantha stole the puck and went in alone on Korpisalo, but steered it just wide. Shots on goal: GR 7 - LE 12.

Great save by Coreau in close, squeezing his pads together. Sedlak hauled down Brian Lashoff for another Griffins powerplay. Mantha picked off a clearing attempt and hit Andy Miele for a chance from the circle. Ouellet's long shot from the line with Svechnikov screening in front beat Korpisalo for a powerplay goal. That spelled the end of the night for Korpisalo who headed to the showers in favor of Forsberg. Mitch Callahan and Kerby Rychel dropped the gloves and danced around for awhile before Cally grabbed him and gave him a quick beat down, knocking him to his knees. Rychel left the game and went to the quiet room for a concussion protocol. Anderson trying to goad Coreau into a fight behind the play, but Coreau gave it right back. A Bertuzzi giveaway ended up behind Coreau to cut the lead to one. Coreau roughed up behind the net and retaliated, earning a minor penalty. After the ensuing scrum, Bjorkstrand and Cleary also went to the box. Mantha came out of the box and lead a rush up ice. Another big scrum broke out as the Griffins whacked at the loose puck to the side of the net. Svechnikov took a high stick right in front while digging for the puck, with no penalty called. Grand Rapids caught a break, after not being able to clear the puck for a considerable amount of time, when a Lake Erie shot squirted out and down the ice to relieve the pressure. The Griffins need to regroup. Shots on goal: GR 10 - LE 11.

Coreau with a juggling save to open the third period. Lake Erie really taking it to the Griffins who don't seem to be able to break out of their own end. Sedlak took advantage of a defensive miscue in front to chip the puck in over Coreau to knot the score at three apiece. Grand Rapids trying to counter-attack, but can't sustain any pressure. The Griffins almost took advantage of a powerplay when Sproul took a cross ice feed from Miele and put a shot into Forsberg. The Griffins powerplay looks awful, no urgency, bad decisions, and Mantha looks bad on the point opposite Sproul. The Griffins got another late powerplay but were victimized by a terrible call by the official who blew the play dead as Bertuzzi bore down on a loose puck in the circle, thinking the Goalie had frozen it, not played it. Three-on-two for Lake Erie and Coreau flashed the glove for an impressive save. Face off violation to Lake Erie with less than three minutes remaining on the clock gave the Griffins yet another man advantage. Unfortunately the Monsters had the better chances on that powerplay as they almost scored on a shorthanded 2-1 but Lake Erie fired it wide. Mantha in the circle was setup by Miele but the puck went between his legs and all the way down the ice. Tyler Bertuzzi with a chance in close on the rush. Callahan taken down and ended up with a penalty for holding the stick. Shots on goal: GR 8 - LE 15.

Grand Rapids started the overtime session down a man for almost two full minutes, but the penlaty killers were up to the task. Lake Erie took a penalty of its own giving Grand Rapids a powerplay. Callahan with a great chance in front as he got knocked down. Hoggan flew up the wing with the puck and was thumped pretty hard along the boards. Long shot from the point and Callahan just tipped the puck wide. Chaput in close with an extra poke at Coreau, drew some extra attention from Ouellet. Werenski in deep, walked out from behind the goal line unchallenged, and tucked a shot in low stick side to end the game and the series in the Lake Erie Monsters favor 4-3. Shots on goal: GR 7 - LE 9. For the game: GR 32 - LE 47.

Bertuzzi - Athanasiou - Mantha
Hoggan - Miele - Zengerle
#29 Svechnikov - Nosek - Callahan
Cleary - Aubry - Campbell

Lashoff - Jensen
Paetsch - Sproul
Ouellet - Russo

Starter: Coreau
Backup: McCollum

#17 Jenks
#20 Renouf
#23 Grant - Injury
#26 Tangradi - Injury
#27 Frk - Injury
#32 Hirschfeld - Seizure/Brain Surgery
#36 Paterson
#37 Nastasiuk
#44 Rechlicz
#47 Hicketts
#48 Saarijarvi
#46 Chouinard

Svechnikov/Nosek - Miele - Zengerle
Sproul - Mantha

Bertuzzi - Athanasiou - Callahan
Ouellet - Russo

Cleary - Campbell
Lashoff - Jensen

Nosek - Aubry
Paetsch - Ouellet


I am proud of the boys for fighting back to push the series to six games, but the Griffins were not the better team tonight and Lake Erie carried play for long stretches. If not for the otherworldly goaltending of Jared Coreau, this game would have been way out of hand, instead of as close as it was.
There were a lot of things that weren't working, including missing Frk (desperately) and Tangradi. No Frk meant that other teams could key in and isolate Sproul on the powerplay, and we missed Tangradi's size, aggressiveness and hands up front. The powerplay was awful for the most part, and the defensive pairing of Russo and Ouellet were shaky at best. Young gun Anthony Mantha's intensity waned, and the team as a whole seemed to lack the urgency of a game 6 with the season on the line. More on that later

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