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Griffins Ground Aeros 1-0
Helm notches games only goal...
By Jason Kasiorek

An airtight Griffins defense helped rookie netminder Daniel Larsson to his first AHL shutout a 1-0 victory over the Houston Aeros. Speedy Darren Helm scored the game lone goal, his second in the last three games after going scoreless his first six. The Griffins, playing in their 8th annual matinee game, sent the 7352 fans in attendance, mostly school children home happy with an exciting win. The home team dominated play most of the game, but were unable to get another good chance past Schaefer. Larsson was starting in place of Jimmy Howard who was injured in the last game and is out indefinitely with a calf injury (charley horse).

The Griffins had a lot of jump to start this one, clearly utting the Aeros back on thier heels. An early Griffins penalty gave Houston a small chance to take the lead, but after the penalty kill, Grand Rapids set the tone the rest of the way. Helm led the way physically, crunching Albers along the boards, leaving the Aeros defenseman foggy and on the ice. The most effective line early was Ritola, Abdelkader and Pare who spent most of their shifts in the Aeros end creating havoc. Great pace and energy to the period, but neither team could score. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Hou 3.

Helm put the Griffins on top early in the second when he took a Wilson pass in the slot and snapped a shot over Schaefer. Houston's bigger players look slow compared to the Griffins, and are being beaten to pucks all over the ice. They don't seem to be able to get mucg going because of the aggressive forecheck Grand Rapids is employing. Mattias Ritola goes after the puck in the corner and knocks former Griffin Jon Insana on his his butt and comes out with it for a chance. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Hou 7.

The third was a little more even, and actually provided an edge of your seat finish as the Griffins took a couple of penalties late. The penalty killers were able to do their job, even getting a couple of shorthanded opportunites. With 1:40 on the clock, Schaefer went to the becnh for the extra attacker, setting up a wild finish. Mursak had a chance at the empty net, but missed, and the Griffins finish with a well deserved 1-0 victory. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - Hou 6. For the Game: GR 31 - Hou 16.

Leino - Helm - Wilson
Ritola - Abdelkader - Pare
Emmerton - Oulahen - Haydar
McGrath - Gagnon - Mursak

Ericsson - Pyett
Kindl - Galvin
Stafford - Lozsa

Starter: Larsson
Backup: #30 Reichmuth


Leino - Helm - Wilson
Haydar - Ericsson

Ritola - Abdelkader - Pare
Kindl - Stafford

Leino - Helm
Ericsson - Galvin

Oulahen - Gagnon
Kindl - Stafford


Every year I seem to latch on to some unheralded rookie who doesn't have much of a chance, but after watching them in camp, I see something in their game that I like. A few years ago it was Bootland, two years ago, Tardif, last year Ritola. This year it is Frankie Pare. Every game I am a little more impressed with what he brings. He was a key player this afternoon, and excelled with Ritola as the two of them stole pucks and made incredible plays to create scoring chances.

Emmerton looked like he had the puck on a string in the early going, and was paying the price to make plays. The switch to wing seemed to do him some good, as did sitting out the last game, as he seemed to have much more fire.

Leino looked rusty after his layoff, mishandling the puck several times.

McGrath had another strong game, setting up chances and playing with more energy. He also did a better job of keeping his feet moving instead of standing around so much.

Helm had a great game, showing off his NHL calibre skill and speed. Some of the moves he made with the puck at high speed were phenomenol. He won't be here much longer.

Larsson was sharp between the pipes, but really wasn't tested much. That may have been the easiest shutout I have ever seen. But in the end no one asks how, just how many.

Nice to see Oulahen get a little offensive time on a line with Emmerton and Haydar, too bad they couldn't have gotten something on the scoreboard.

Official Game Sheet