Team Effort Helps Griffins Tame Wolves 3-2|
Kindl and Emmerton each notch two points in win...
By Jason Kasiorek
The Griffins took advantage of a total team effort to ring up a hard fought win over the Chicago Wolves. The Griffins got goals at even strength (Tardif), shorthanded (Gagnon), and on the powerplay (Kindl) in the home ice triumph. Kindl added an assist to lead the team along with rookie Cory Emmerton who notched two assists. Daniel Larsson had a strong game between the pipes, stopping 22 of 24 shots for his sixth win of the season.
Lots of play in the neutral zone in the first, with both teams forechecking and clogging up the middle. Ville Leino gets a penalty, killing the Griffins first powerplay, a disturbing trend recently. Jakub Kindl got GR on the board just past the 14 minute mark of the period when his point shot found it's way past Turple who was being screened by Jamie Tardif. Tardif scored three minutes later, picking up the rebound of a Cory Emmerton shot and showing great perseverance and second effort to find an opening to push the puck through on the doorstep. Things boiled over in the last minute of play with Tardif dropping the gloves with Lehman and taking a pretty good beating. Then off the next faceoff, Downey and Haffman squared off in a heavyweight bout, dropping their gloves and skating to center ice. Both players landed some good blows before it was broken up. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Chi 6.
Chicago got their first goal on a fluky looking play early in the second. Sterling took a shot that looked to just go wide, but Larsson appeared to stick his arm out and deflected it in to his own net. The Wolves started to run into trouble soon after, losing two players to blocked shots on the same powerplay, Lessard and Rivers being felled by point blasts from Haydar and Ericsson and having to be helped off. The second featured lots more end to end action with both teams getting chances. Helm crashed the crease, knocking the net off and depositing the puck over the line for what he thought was a shorthanded goal, but it was called off. Gagnon made it 3-1 late in the period, scoring from close in front off the rush, his second goal in two games, while Oulahen tried to get Sterling to go behind the play. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Chi 13.
Grand Rapids got caught running around in their own end and left Stevenson alone in front of Larsson where he converted a centering pass into the GR net stick-side. The Wolves were in control the first half of the period, at times making it look like they had a man-advantage when they did not. Downey playing a very physical game re-energized the Griffins scrapping and battling along the boards. The Griffins got a powerplay with two and a half left in the game which looked to seal the win, but then Ericsson went to the box. And with a minute left Chicago pulled Turple for an extra skater , leaving GR in a 6 on 4 for the last 38 seconds. The Griffins held on for a wild finish and a 3-2 win. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Chi 2. For the Game: GR 27 - Chi 24.
McGrath - Abdelkader - Downey
Leino - Helm - Haydar
Ritola - Emmerton - Tardif
Mursak - Gagnon - Oulahen
Ericsson - Jozsa
Galvin - Kindl
Stafford - Kolosov
Lemieux - Knee
Abdelkader - Helm - Leino
Stafford - Kindl
Ritola - Emmerton - Tardif
Ericsson - Haydar
Ritola - Abdelkader
Galvin - Ericsson
Leino - Helm
Stafford - Kindl
Oulahen - Gagnon
I was very impressed with the jump this team had and the effort most everyone put out. They still didn't quite go the full 60 minutes, but a lot closer than they have been
Jakub Kindl had a strong outing and really looks to be coming into his own. He was much better on the powerplay, and his point shot is great - low, on target, and east to tip in.
Aaron Downey played his best game as a griffin, providing physical play and energy. He was much more involved, winning battles in the corners and along the boards, and even got into a scrap.
Cory Emmerton looked very good, and is competing in all areas of the ice. He has added some grit to his natural gifts, and the combination is starting to pay off for him.
Ritola had a great night, I lost count of the number of good chances he created during the game. Several times his teammates got the puck through traffic on the doorstep and were to surprised he got it their to get a shot off. If he plays like this consistently the points will start coming again. The line of Emmerton, Tardif, and Ritola was easily the most dangerous for GR and accounted for two of the three goals.
Another off night for Ericsson in his own end, he just does not seem to be playing with the same intensity as in the past. It is also alarming to see the drop-off in his scoring totals as he is no longer an offense threat either. He needs to step up his play, as we all know he is capable of much more.
Ville Leino did not have a good game and appears unwilling to battle for scoring chances. Shift after shift he turned away, and did not compete like he did earlier in the season. I am not sure whether he is still healing an injury, but he cannot be a perimeter player and be successful.
Great game by Jamie Tardif doing all the things that made him a fixture in the lineup the last few seasons. He was a pest, drawing several Wolves to paint a target on his back, he took up residence ala Thomas Holmstrom in front of the net and created havoc, and he played a physical game even dropping the gloves. More play like this, and he should be in the lineup every night.
Another steady by Kolosov who is starting to gain some traction in his first AHL season. He played well defensively and even stepped up into the play a few times. He looked much more confident and showed some authority in his play in his own end.
Daniel Larsson had another game bewteen the pipes for the Griffins. He was not tested a lot, but came up big when he had to including stopping a wolves breakaway when the game was close.