Griffins Outlast Wolves 5-3|
Retooled defense plays key role in home victory...
By Jason Kasiorek
October 20th, 2018
The Griffins got a boost from the return of defensive stalwart Brian Lashoff and the assignment of Libor Sulak from the parent Detroit Red Wings as they won their second game of the season over the Chicago Wolves 5-3. The home team jumped out to 3-0 lead before the visiting Wolves rallied back with three straight goals to tie the game. Veteran Chris Terry broke the tie and Matt Puempel killed off the Wolves rally with an empty netter at 19:28, his second tally of the game. Grand Rapids got goals from Turner Elson (1), Saarijarvi (1), Terry (2) and Puempel (2,3) in the win. Netminder Hari Sateri made 25 stops on 28 shots for his second win of the season.
The Griffins got off to a good start, playing with a lot of jump and appeared to be confident with Libor Sulak and Brian Lashoff making their season debut on the blueline. Carter camper won a faceoff and slid the puck over to Turner Elson in the slot, Elson chipped it in over Lagace for a 1-0 lead at 6:48. Lagace came way out of the net to play a loose puck and Givani Smith was right in his face, drawing a crowd for some pushing and shoving. The Griffins are peppering Lagace with shots for some premium scoring chances. Newcomer Chris Carlisle boarded a wolves player with a rough looking hit along the boards and several Wolves went over to get a piece of him. The Griffins only ended up shorthanded for two minutes, it could have easily been five. Great work on the penalty kill, keeping the Wolves to the outside. Jake Chelios is an absolute beast, blocking shots with impunity. Libor Sulak lugging the puck up ice drew a call, on the delayed penalty he circled back and went end to end, split the defense and was fouled again as he closed on the net. Two wolves went to the box giving GR a 5-on-3 powerplay. Saarijarvi with speed carried the puck in deep and put a shot net. The rebound came right back to him and he tried to pass it, but it knuckled off the heel of his stick and in over Lagace far side. Shots on goal: GR 15 - Chi 9.
The home team kept its foot on the gas as they extended the lead to 3-0. Puempel one-timed a shot from the circle in over Lagace and off the crossbar for a goal. Puempel almost scored again as he went in on a two-on-one and blistered a shot that just hit the Wolves goalie. The tide turned quickly as the Wolves counter-attack struck for 3 goals in a three minute span. Tynan at the side of the net, banked a shot in off Sateri to start the rally. Brandon Pirri cut the Griffins lead to one a minute later when he tipped a point shot past Sateri. Chicago caught another break when a long cross ice shot hit Macek's skate in front and deflected past Sateri to knot the score at three each. The stunned Griffins managed to regroup and regained the lead a few minutes later. Chelios stole the puck and fed Filip Zadina who found Chris Terry. Terry in with speed snuck a wrister past Lagace, low stick-side for his second of the campaign. Big hit by Shine who finished his check along the end boards. Shots on goal: GR 7 - Chi 12.
Grand Rapids snake-bit on the powerplay early in the third. Terry fanned on the puck in front of a wide open net, then Zadina did the same. Sulak with a big point shot on net and a scramble in front for the rebound. The puck squirted to Megan back door for a goal. It was called back because it was ruled Turner Elson pushed it with his hand to Megan. Dylan mcIlrath broke a stick at the line, turning a 2-on-1 into a 2-on-0 but Holmstrom got back and made an incredible defensive play to break it up. Great play and scoring chance by Givani Smith to drag the puck through the crease, but the big winger just couldn't get the shot off. Griffins penalty killers frustrating Chicago as they generate several quality scoring chances and kept the puck deep in the Wolves zone for most of the powerplay. Zadina getting worked over along the boards, but still battling. Lagace to the bench at 2:26 for the extra skater and put some pressure on the Griffins net. Puempel beat a wolves defender to a long clear that rebounded off the end boards and banged it into the open net as he was taken down to cap the scoring at 5-3. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Texas 7. For the game: GR 32 - Texas 28.
#11 Zadina - #22 Megan - #25 Terry
#15 Elson - #19 Camper - #73 Puempel
#10 Holmstrom - #23 Turgeon - #65 Shine
#54 Smith - #51 Pope- #12 Pope
#18 Brian Lashoff - #9 Saarijarvi
#4 Libor Sulak - #52 McIlrath
#38 Chris Carlisle - #27 Chelios
Starter: #29 Harri Sateri
Backup: #42 Patrik Rybar
#45 Campbell (Concussion protocol)
#55 Ford (veteran Scratch)
#73 Puempel - #19 Camper - #25 Terry
#11 Zadina - #9 Saarijarvi
#15 Elson - #23 Turgeon– #12 Pope/#10 Holmstrom
#4 Sulak- #10 Holmstrom/#9 Saarijarvi
#15 Elson/#65 Shine - #23 Turgeon
#18 Lashoff - #52 McIlrath
#22 Megan - #51 Yates
#4 Sulak - #27 Chelios
While he still needs a few games to get up to full speed, the difference with Lashoff in was apparent from his first shift. A calming influence, Lashoff slows the game down and gives his teammates confidence. There a few better defensive defenseman in the AHL.
Libor Sulak had a very good game, showing off his tremendous skating and puck skills. he added a new dimension to the team with his end to end rushes and ability to get back into position after rushing the puck. He was credited with 2 shots but had several other blocked before they reached the net. At times he looked like an NHL'er playing in the AHL. If he continues to play at such a high level, he will force another look in Detroit (NHL).
While it is too early to throw him under the bus yet, Sateri has left a lot to be desired in the early going of the season. He has been prone to give up a couple of goals once he has given up the first as they seem to come in bunches against him. While his defense has been less than stellar, more is expected of the veteran netminder.