Griffins Fall to Aeros in Shootout 4-3
Shaky Goaltending Dooms Griffins...
By Jason Kasiorek
Shaky goaltending doomed the Griffins tonight as they fell to Houston 4-3. Not that 3 goals on 33 shots was bad in itself, but the timing of the goals, and the fact that Stefan Liv was obviously not on top of his game didn't help. The 2nd and 3rd Aeros goals were backbreakers and goals that the Griffins Netminder should have had. Ellis, Bootland, and Quincey had goals for GR in the loss.
The Griffins started out on the offensive again early with Oulahen, Himelfarb, and Brooks buzzing around the offensive zone. Ellis put the Griffins on the board just over 3 minutes into the period when he took a cross crease feed from Kip Miller and buried the puck into a wide open net backdoor. The lead held up for about four minutes when Pouliot backhanded a shot from the circle that beat Liv cleanly low, stick-side. The Aeros controlled play the last half of the first. Shots on goal GR 5 - Houston 12.
Grand Rapids turned it up a notch in the 2nd, peppering Harding with shots and dominating play. At the nine minute mark the Griffins had a 10-0 shot advantage, cycling the puck in Houston's zone, when Olson took a feed from Irmen and let a long shot go that beat Liv high, stick-side. You could tell by the players body language that that took some of the wind out of their sails. Towards the end of the period, Darryl Bootland tied things up with his first of the season. Booter was looking for garbage and crashed the net, chipping a puck over Harding's shoulder glove-side. Shots on goal GR 20 - Houston 11.
Kyle Quincey put the Griffins ahead early in the third on the powerplay when he fired a knuckleball shot from the high slot that fluttered over Harding and into the back of the net. After this, the hitting really picked up, with bodies flying all over. Liv gave up the game tying goal a few minutes later when he came way out of the net to challenge a shooter. Ratchuk shot the puck, and Liv gave up a huge rebound to Irmin who scored an easy goal into a vacated net. Grand Rapids tried to regain the lead yet again, with Ellis and Brooks among others with great chances. Houston's goalie Harding started to flex and stretch in between plays, and after a few minutes goes down in a heap. He had to be helped off the ice by the trainer and another player, and was done for the night. Enter former Griffin Dieter Kochan to man the nets for the rest of the game. Shots on goal GR-6 Houston 8.
The five minute overtime was pretty end to end with Eric Himelfarb having the only dangerous scoring chance for the Griffins. Shots on goal GR 1 Hou 2, For the game GR 32 - Houston 34
Leavitt was the first shooter for Houston, and he blew a shot past Liv waist-high, stick-side. Miller went first for GR and made a nice move to freeze Kochan flipping the puck over his leg pad to even the score. Pouliot was the second Aeros shooter, and he shot it into Livs pads. Langfeld Missed wide on the Griffins second attempt followed by the always dangerous Voloshenko who snuck it between Livs arm and body for a 2-1 lead. McGrath made a nice move and poked it home five-hole to even the score. Morgan stroked a shot that went top shelf and knocked the water bottle behind Liv. Himelfarb got off a weak shot that went into Kochan's leg pad, and then Houston's murphy was stopped with a stick save. Kolanos sent the shootout into extra rounds with a quick shot on the rush that surprised Kochan and was in the net before he knew it had been shot. Leavitt shot it over the top of the net, and Miller was stopped by Kochan to go to the 7th round. Voloshenko scored the game winner with a blast that beat Liv stick side, as Kolonos fired it into Kochans glove with the last shot.
Oulahen - Himelfarb - Brooks
Hussey - McGrath/Kolanos - Kolanos/Bootland
Miller/Radunske - Ellis - Langfeld
Radunske - McGrath - Bootland/Ellis
Miller - McGrath - Langfeld/Oulahen
Syvret - Smith/Naumenko
Smith - Meech
Quincey - Ericsson
Miller/Oulahen - Ellis - Langfeld
Ericsson - Quincey
Kolanos - McGrath - Himelfarb
Syvret - Naumenko
Ellis - Langfeld
Quincey - Ericsson
Hussey - Brooks
Smith - Meech
Himelfarb - Bootland
Himelfarb - Brooks
Ellis - Langfeld
Kolanos - Oulahen
Miller - Hussey
3 GR Ellis
2 GR Miller
1 Hou Irmen
The Griffins transition game is deadly for the other team with all the speed that is on the roster this year. When the forecheckers create a turnover, the players are so fast that they already have an odd man rush.
Syvret looked a little off tonight, the normally smooth passer was having a hard time connecting. He did however pick up his physical play, and laid out some big hits.
Smith was a monster on the penalty kill during the game, he blocked shots and sacrificed his body to keep the puck out of harms way. Meech was taking his lead as he put on a shot blocking clinic in the game as well.
Brock Radunske made his Griffins debut, but didn't look particularly comfortable. He threw some hits, and got his body in front of some plays, but did not have much of an impact.
Himelfarb was all over the ice hitting anything in Green and really creating chances with his hard work and speed.
Evan McGrath was not as visible as in yesterdays game, and must develop consistency to keep his spot in the lineup.
Oulahen had anothe strong game, and was double shifted at times, seeing a lot of ice time.
Matt Ellis is like a bull in china shop, dragging checkers with him on the way to net, and bowling them over when they are in his way. His goal tonight was his 3rd in 5 games pay attention Detroit.
Stefan Liv gives up a lot of rebounds, almost like he has rubber pads. Every save with him is an adventure as he rarely seems to be in position and is always scrambling around. He also seems to have an inordinate amount of pucks hit him and fall in the crease while he looks for them somewhere else. He has been working with Wings Goalie coach Jim Bedard a lot lot since coming to North America, and hopefully that will pay off soon.
Click here for the Official Scoresheet.