Flames Torch Griffins 3-1
Helm Scores First Pro Goal In Loss...
By Jason Kasiorek
The streak has now reached 6 straight losses which also mirrors an 0-6 start at home. Things have finally reached emergency status, despite some small improvements, this team is going nowhere fast. Today's trip into the twilight zone featured the Griffins playing a strong game the first thirty minutes only to implode and fall back onto bad habits the last thirty. The turning point was a Flames power play at the midway point of the second in which they had as many shots on goal as they did the entire first period. From that point on Quad City carried the play, and the Griffins fell apart, taking bad penalties, and completely losing their composure. Rookie Darren Helm scored his first pro goal for Grand Rapids in the loss.
Grand Rapids came out skating hard and showed more jump than in the past few home games. Ericsson gave away the puck right in front of his own net, but it was shot high. Quad city used its physical play to create turnovers, but GR kept up the tempo and stuck with it. Gelech gave away the puck in his own zone, followed by Insana miscuing on it, leading to a great scoring chance by the Flames. Jakub Kindl looked a little feisty, pushing and shoving in the ensuing scrum. Hartigan, cycling the puck in deep, draws a penalty with his hard work. The Griffins are doing a much better job of carrying the puck up the ice and into the zone instead of dumping it and chasing. This has led to more scoring chances and more time spent in the Quad City zone. Shots on Goal: GR 14 - QC 7.
Big stop by Howard on the powerplay, early in the second. The Flames physical game is picking up, but so far the Griffins seem to be keeping pace. Hartigan gave out a big hit at the line to clear the zone and run out the time on the penalty. Darren Helm set up a great chance by McGrath who was stopped. The puck lay loose in the crease and was pounced on by Helm who poked it home in a goal mouth scramble. Griffins up 1-0 and the Flames are back on their heels, when an Engelhardt tripping penalty puts them on the power play. Quad City had several good chances, pressuring the puck and peppering Howard with shots. The Griffins were unable to clear the zone, and the momentum was starting to shift. A few minutes later, Stafford was the last man back in his own zone and was hooked down between the circles and stripped of the puck by Maki, who had an uncontested shot on Howard for the goal. The team looked stunned, arguing the blatant call that should have blown the play dead. From this point on, the Griffins confidence looked to be gone and they started to slide fast.
The Flames got behind the defense for a breakaway with Howard making two point blank saves on the original skater, and when no-one cleared the puck, the trailer. Pardy made it 2-1 Quad City when he stroked a shot from the point that cleany beat Howard high. Cullen finished a check along the boards and was knocked down by Couture. This of course drew a crowd which turned into a scrum, which of course left the Griffins shorthanded again. Shots on goal GR 13 - QC 17.
Off the opening face off in the third period, Van Der Gulick flew into the Griffins zone and fired a laser from the top of the circle that found the top corner to make the score 3-1. Insana lost his man, leading to a breakaway, but interfered with him just enough to handcuff his shot which Jimmy stopped. The Griffins look beat, heads are down on the bench, and they aren't working together anymore. Keefe stole the puck at the line, setting up McGrath for a good chance, but he ran out of room to get a handle on it. Howard had to be sharp on a Ryno giveaway in front of the net. Helm had another great chance on a nifty feed from Cullen. The Griffins are collapsing in their own zone, losing all of the little battles, and can't get the puck out. The ice appears to be tilted in Quad City's favor. Tardif creates a turnover and goes in on McElhinney but fires it off his pad. Captain Cullen let the ref know what he thinks of the officiating after another questionable call goes against the Griffins, followed by a blatant high sticking foul that went uncalled despite leaving him bleeding. Helm, shorthanded, streaked in and fired a shot off the bar. Great work by Keefe down low creating havoc and keeping the puck deep. Hartigan to the box with 1:29 on the clock effectively finishing the game. The coach summoned Howard to the bench with one minute remaining, but Grand Rapids could not muster much before time ran out. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Tor 8. For the game: GR 38 - QC 32.
Helm/Engelhardt - Cullen - Corazzini
Ryno/Oulahen - Hartigan - Gelech
Tardif - McGrath - Keefe
Oulahen - McGrath - Engelhardt
Ericsson - Galvin
Quincey - Stafford
Kindl - Insana
Hartigan - Cullen - Corazzini
Ericsson - Stafford
Oulahen - McGrath - Engelhardt
Kindl - Quincey
Tardif - Oulahen
Quincey - Stafford
Corazzini - Cullen
Kindl - Insana
Hartigan - Gelech
The teams play the first half was different from what we have seen at home this season. The defenseman were involved in the rush, and they carried the puck in and set up as opposed the the familiar dump and chase. It was very disheartening to see the Griffins fragile confidence crack and the level of play fall off the second half.
Kindl did not have a bad game, and was hardly noticable. For a defenseman, that is not always a bad thing.
Darren Helm looked like a completely different player, involved in the offense and making things happen. Easily his best game of the season, and one of the stars of the game.
Ericsson looked to be more intense this game. He moved the puck a lot, had several shots on the powerplay, and even threw some checks. Hopefully this is sign of things to come.
Cullen played hard, but took a beating as he was a frequent target of sticks and late hits.
Randall Gelech also was a positive on the day. He hit everything in a red uniform, made some good defensive plays, and stayed out of the box.
Did not notice Brett Engelhardt at all this game, which is very unusual. He needs to step it up and provide some offense and spirit on the wing.
Insana and to a lesser degree Quincey had tough nights on the blueline for Grand Rapids. Insan had several giveaways, and looked shaky in his own end.