Tardif Leads Rout Over Heat 6-1|
Larsson stops 41 shots in brawl filled contest...
By Jason Kasiorek
Grand Rapids enjoyed a breakout game, powered by a sensational goaltending exhibition by starter Daniel Larsson. Captain Jamie tardif led the way offensively with a hat-trick and Kris Newbury added a goal and two assists. With the game well in hand, Abbotsford tried to extract their revenge in blood, but for the most part came out on the wrong end of those encounters. Jeremy Williams and John Vigilante had the other scores for GR. Larsson lost his shutout bid with just over five minutes on the clock when the Heat scored on a 6-on-3 advantage.
Grand Rapids started the game unable to get the puck out of their own end. The Heat put a lot of pressure on Larsson early, which eventually led to Pyett taking a penalty and leaving the team shorthanded. GR managed to kill the penalty off, and eventually got a powerplay of their own. Williams took a feed from Newbury and converted for a powerplay goal to take a 1-0 lead. Tardif had a great chance to go up by two, whacking at a Nylander centering pass on the doorstep. Late in the period the Heat got a shorthanded breakaway, but Williams caught him from behind, stripped the puck away, and laid a thundering check. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - Abb 13.
Pyett fired a bomb from the blueline that found its way to the net where Tardif tipped it behind Shantz to put GR up by a pair. With just under four minutes in the period Janik unloaded a point shot that Newbury reached behind him and redirected into the net. less than a minute later, McGrath flew in on the wing and put a shot on goal that was tipped in by Vigilante. That was the end for Shantz as he went to the bench in favor of Irving. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Abb 15.
Grand Rapids was back on the powerplay again early in third, and Tardif took advantage, snapping a Nylander feed past Irving for a 5 goal lead. Brett Sutter checked Larsson behind the net,knocking the netminder flying. Travis Ehrhardt went right over, dropped the gloves, and pummeled the Heat forward. Sutter got a couple in at the end before being thrown to the ice by the Griffins rookie rearguard. Thirteen seconds later Garth Murray jumped Newbury, and the veteran forward could only protect himself. Both Heat players got the extra two minutes, leaving Gr on a 5-on-3 advantage. Tardif notched his third of the night on a pretty back door pass that extended the lead to 6-0. Another brawl almost touched off, but Larsson came out of the net to hold back Piche and draw the penalty. Abbotsford had a shorthanded breakaway, but McGrath made a great play backchecking to knock the puck away.
Two players took a run at Janik in the corner, and while he sidestepped both, he also threw a punch at one while they were down, touching off another donnybrook. Newbury ended up pulling the second man out and won a spirited bout. Soon all of the players were fighting and scrumming, with Mursak throwing punches in the middle. This exchange left Grand Rapids in serious penalty trouble with 6 minutes in penalties. A delayed penalty to the griffins during the 5-on-3 sent Irving to the bench for the 6th attacker. After several good attempts, Germyn strokes one from the circle that clinks in off the post to break Larsson's shutout bid. Piche smoked Watt with a hip check and Watt immediately dropped the gloves and started throwing punches. Piche was shook up on the hit and didn't fight back. Watt was thrown out of the game, but GR could not score on the resulting powerplay. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Abb 14. For the Game: GR 28 - Abb 42.
Rissmiller - Tatar - Williams
Ritola - Newbury - Mursak
Emmerton - Nylander - Tardif
Vigilante - McGrath - Pare
Piche - Janik/Pyett
Walsh - Janik
Kindl - Ehrhardt
Lemieux - Back
Axelsson - Flu
Kolosov - Flu
Crosty - Flu
Delmore - Knee
Newbury - Nylander - Tardif
Williams - Kindl/Janik
Ritola - Rissmiller - Mursak
Pyett - Kindl
Nylander - Tardif
Kindl/Pyett - Janik
Rissmiller - Williams
Piche - Ehrhardt
Newbury - Mursak/Ritola
Larsson had a stellar game, stopping everything including the kitchen sink. He was unbelievable during the 5-on-3 powerplay stopping shots that did not look saveable.
Vigilante had a great night, flying all over and doing a good job of taking the puck away. Nice to see him rewarded with a goal.
Pyett, a favorite whipping boy of this site, had a very good game, moved the puck well, and did not get beat in his won end. Keep up the good work!
GR played most of the night with 5 blueliners, with forward Mike Walsh taking shifts on the backend in limited ice time.