Griffins Rally Falls Short Against Lake Erie 4-5|
Scoring surge can't overcome defensive lapses...
By Jason Kasiorek
October 24th, 2014
The Griffins battled back from deficits several times tonight, but fell just short, dropping a 4-5 decision to the visiting Lake Erie Monsters. The loss was the second on the season for Grand Rapids, both to Lake Erie on home ice. The ironic thing is that it was Lake Erie's second win of the season, both over the Griffins. Chris Bruton, Teemu Pulkkinen, Alexey Marchenko and Nathan Paetsch scored for the Griffins but it was not enough to overcome a rash of defensive lapses.
Back and forth play the first five minutes. Lauridsen opened the scoring with a long point shot through traffic that found its way in along the ice. Sproul left his man in front allowing Schumacher an easy pop at Mrazek and he made it 2-0 Monsters. Hirschfeld got Grand Rapids on the board when he skated into the circle and used Bruton as a screen to snap a shot past Aittokallio low stick side. Bruton was credited with the goal. Hoggan had a great chance, cutting through the crease and using his body to protect the puck. Thundering hit by Ouellet in the corner got the crowd into it. Athanasiou turned on the jets for a dangerous shorthanded chance. Great save by Mrazek to slide over and take away a sure shot. The Griffins got a beauty of a chance on the power play, Athanasiou used his speed to bring the puck to the net and hit Pulkkinen with a pass in the slot. Pulkkinen was pulled down, setting up a 5-on-3 man advantage. Miele dug the puck out of the corner on his knees and centered to Pulkkinen for a beautiful goal. Shots on goal: GR 12 - LE 12.
Maggio and Evans dropped the gloves behind the play, with the Griffins veteran taking the worst of it, a rarity in his time in GR. Hirschfeld was assessed a double minor for high-sticking, putting the Griffins in the hole for four minutes. Short handed 2-on-1 for Grand Rapids, and the puck just rolled wide of Aittokallio. Mrazek stoned Ryan on a point blank shot and then dove over to make a highlight reel save on the rebound. Lake Erie took advantage of a Paetsch gaffe in front to steal the puck and set up Rendulic next to the net for a back door goal and a 3-2 lead. Ferraro got a gift next to the net from Porter, but chipped it over the cage. Shots on goal: GR 8 - LE 11.
Marchenko launched a rocket from that point that cleanly beat Aittokallio low, glove side. Agozzino won a battle in traffic to put the Monster's ahead again at the halfway point of the period. Hoggan got mugged in the slot with no call, then Athanasiou was pulled down, setting up a late powerplay. Porter was whistled off just 3 seconds in, evening things up at four aside. Paetsch and Sproul got crossed up again and Everberg banged home a goal from the edge of the paint. Coach Blashill summoned Mrazek to the bench with five and a half minutes left on the clock to try and get one back. Paetsch pulled the Griffins within one when he picked a corner and threaded a shot from the line over Aittokallio into the net. Mrazek back in the net again. Hoggan smoked the puck carrier behind the net creating a turnover. Mrazek back to the bench for the extra attacker with just over a minute to go. Break by Grand Rapids, but Ferraro couldn't handle it cleanly. Several good chances in the dying seconds for the home team, but it was to no avail as they fell 4-5 to the visiting Monsters. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - LE 4. For the Game: GR 29 - LE 27.
Porter-#21 Miele/Athanasiou - Ferraro
Pulkkinen - Athanasiou/Miele - Callahan
Hoggan - #9 Zengerle - Frk
Bruton - Hirschfeld - Campbell
Ouellet - Marchenko
Evans - Sproul/Backman
#4 Paetsch - Backman/Sproul
Nosek - Injured Hand
Frk - Athanasiou - Callahan
Pulkkinen - Ouellet
Porter - Miele - Ferraro
Paetsch - Sproul
Porter - Ferraro
Ouellet - Marchenko
Callahan - Athanasiou
Evans/Paetsch - Sproul
Sproul and Paetsch both had off nights, and Sproul in particular was brutal defensively. They were paired together a fair part of the game and both ended up tied at a team worst -3.
Marchenko played a very strong game, and looked much more confident and mobile than two weeks ago in game one. He was much more involved in the play, and his size to manage the zone around the net.
His defensive partner Xavier Ouellet also had a great game. If he continues to play like he has in the early going, Detroit is going to have to make a move to find him some playing time.
Pulkkinen could have easily had 2 or 3 more goals tonight and really had a lot of room to get off his heavy shot. It is uncanny how much he looks like Brett Hull, going down on one knee to change the angle of the shot.
Athanasiou was a difference make tonight and played a strong game all night. He had several good scoring chances, mainly by using his speed, but also made use of his linemates instead of trying to do it all himself.
Chris Bruton also was impressive in limited minutes this game. The physical winger was defensively responsible and provided energy and some big hits along with being effective on the forecheck.
Captain Jeff Hoggan showed why he wears the C with his effort and determination, especially in the third period where he was hitting and sacrificing the body to make plays in a losing effort.
Landon Ferraro saw a ton of ice time with two of the main offensive catalysts on the Griffins in Miele and Porter and had nothing to show for it. While he was good on the PK, he did not look good at even strength. Much more is expected from him as he really just looked to be going through the motions.
Another minus goes to Martin Frk who was almost unnoticeable tonight. After a summer of getting in top shape, he should be building on last seasons stronger finish, not making himself a candidate to be healthy scratch. No shots on goal despite seeing powerplay time and I don't recall that he even ever was in scoring position is not good.