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Howard Stars in 5-1 Romp Over Monsters
Veteran netminder stellar in early going...
By Jason Kasiorek

Jimmy Howard helped avert disaster tonight, keeping his team in the game despite being outplayed in first period. The fourth year goalie was particularly sharp during a 5-on-3 advantage for Lake Erie, stopping several great chances. The rest of his teammates built off his example and ramped up their intensity before ripping the game open with 5 unanswered goals for the win. Captain Darren Haydar (4), Landon Wilson (6), and Darren Helm (1) led the way with a goal and an assist each while Evan McGrath had a pair of helpers. Jamie Tardif (2) and Francis Pare (3) also added tallies in the victory. The Griffins penalty killers were perfect in the game marking 24 straight powerplays without giving up a goal.

Grand Rapids came out flat which led to a choppy, sloppy first period featuring several Griffins turnovers and bad defensive plays. Ericsson and Pyett both took the same man setting up a 2-on-0 against Howard, MacKenzie scored top shelf, stick side to put the Monsters on the board. Kolosov pinched in leading to a breakaway but Jimmy closed the door. With Kolosov in the box for delay of game, Ritola took a hooking penalty on the PK setting up a five-on-3 powerplay for Lake Erie. Howard stood on his head making save after save, some from point blank range to keep his team in the game. He might have turned in one of his best periods ever, and that sucessful kill was the turning point of the game. Wilson took exception to Per Ledin during a scrum and went ballistic trying to get to the Swedish winger. They both ended up in the box with four minutes apiece to end the period Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Lake Erie 14.

Jamie Tardif put the Grifins back in the game early in the second. He picked up the puck in traffic on the doorstep and roofed it over Bacashihua at the 1:47 mark. A few minutes later the Griffins ended up with their own 5-on-3 advantage and Haydar capitalized. The Griffins Captain drifted in from the point to the slot and lasered a blast that cleanly beat Bacashihua with Helm screening in front. Late in the period Kindl left the box after a penalty expired and got a breakaway pass, but the Monsters' netminder stoned him. The Griffins carried the play for most of the period and had Lake Erie running around in their own end. The energy line of Oulahen, Lemieux and Downey really established a physical hitting game in the period with Downey especially laying some huge hits. Shots on Goal: GR 15 - Lake Erie 5.

It was more of the same in the third, as Logan Pyett shot down the wing and centered the puck to a streaking Helm who one-timed it over a sprawled out Bacashihua for a 3-1 lead. Ritola had a shorthanded breakaway but didn't see that he had Helm with him and rifled a shot of Bacashihua's pads. Wilson made it 4-1 on the powerplay, as the recipient of a tic-tac-toe passing play with Stafford and Haydar, driving it home. Rookie Francis Pare capped the scoring with just over two minutes left when he executed a spin-o-rama move and banked the puck off the post and behind the netminder for a 5-1 victory. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - Lake Erie 10. For the Game: GR 35 - Lake Erie 29.

Wilson/Lemieux - Abdelkader - Haydar
Ritola/Pare - Helm - Mursak
Pare - McGrath - Tardif
Lemieux - Oulahen - Downey

Kindl - Galvin
Ericsson - Pyett
Stafford - Kolosov

Starter: Howard
Backup: Larson


Wilson/Ritola - Abdelkader -Pare/Helm
Haydar - Ericsson

Ritola - Helm - Mursak
Kindl - Stafford

Pare - McGrath - Tardif

Ritola - Helm
Ericsson/Kolosov - Galvin

Oulahen - Lemieux
Kindl - Stafford


Jakub Kindl looked much better with the puck tonight. He was quicker and crisper with the puck, getting his shot off and making some nifty passes.

Evan McGrath a frequent scratch was back in the lineup, and played with a fire I don't believe I have ever seen in him. Keep up the good work!

Aaron Downey easily had his most effective game in Grand Rapids tonight. He was a physical force, banging at both ends of the ice, and helped create a couple of turnovers on the forecheck.

Francis Pare continues to amaze with his considerable talent level. He doesn't get a lot of time early, but by the end of the game always ends up with extra shifts. He sees the ice well, and has the moves to go along with it.

Sergei Kolosov had a very noticeable night, albeit becaus eof some of his mistakes, but at least he was showing some intensity at times.

As stated above, Howard was deserving of the first star, and was the difference in this game.

Official Game Sheet