Grand Rapids Rallies to Drop Hamilton 4-3
Griffins Notch Three Powerplay Goals In Penalty Filled Contest...
By Jason Kasiorek
Grand Rapids took advantage of some early powerplays to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Lackluster play let Hamilton back into the game and left the home team scrambling to tie the game up in the closing minutes. A controversial goal by Evan McGrath kept Grand Rapids alive in the shootout and Corazzini scored in the 6th round for the win. Some interesting post game fireworks followed as Yann Danis and coach Don Lever tried to attack referee Nygel Pelletier at the end of the shootout.
Two quick penalties to Hamilton left GR with a 5-on-3 powerplay which they converted to a 1-0 lead. An Ericsson point blast hit the end boards and bounced back out along the edge of the crease where Engelhardt snuck in and buried it short side. It was Brett's first goal since the beginning of November and 4th of the season. Less than two minutes later, Quincey added a powerplay tally with a rocket from the blueline that beat a partially screened Danis. The tide started to turn a little while later when Kindl and Ritola were both whistled off for Hooking at the 5:08 mark setting up a Bulldogs 5-on-3. Locke made it 2-1 when he snuck in back door and took a pass in the circle which he wristed over Howard. Late in the period on another powerplay, Locke scored another back door goal to tie the game at two. Two minutes later a defensive breakdown let Manlow walk in on Howard and wrist a shot past him for a goal that the lanky netminder would probably like back. GR 21 - Ham 9.
Much like Wednesday's game, the shots on goal were not indicative of the play as Hamilton was in the drivers seat for much of the game. Jimmy came up huge when he came way out of the net to knock the puck away before it turned into a breakaway. The Griffins were unable to get much going offensively, coming up empty on three powerplays. Shots on Goal: GR 12 - Ham 7.
Midway through the third, Ericsson and Locke got tied up in the corner and a scuffle broke out. Locke swung his stick and hit Ericsson in the head, then he jabbed him again when the hulking defenseman tried to take a poke at him. The officials didn't catch the stickwork and gave them each two minutes. The altercation seemed to light a fire under the Griffins, especially Ericsson who came on strong at the end. With less than three minutes on the clock, Ericsson struck again with man-advantage, blasting a cannon of a shot that was past Danis before he even saw it. Shots on goal - GR 11 - Lake Erie 11. For the Game: GR 39 - Ham 22.
With the score tied at the end of regulation the game went into OT. Grand Rapids carried the play for the five minutes, but could not get another goal prompting the shootout. Shots on goal - GR 5 - Ham 1. For the Game: GR 50 - Ham 28.
D'Agostini went first for Hamilton, freezing Howard and then walking around him for a goal. Corazzini for the Griffins, cut in deked and scored to tie it at 1. Locke was the second shooter for the Bulldogs, and Jimmy held his ground making the save. Unfortunately the puck went high in the air, landed in the crease and rolled into the net for a delayed goal. Cullen made a nice move but had the puck roll off his stick, leaving GR one behind. Ferland smoked a shot past Howard to extend the lead to two. Ritola put a great move on Danis, deking and faking a shot before sliding the puck in. Manlow was denied by Howard, and Stafford tried to imitate Corazzini but couldn't get the puck up. Degon was the fifth shooter for Hamilton, but couldn't get the puck past Howard. Evan McGrath was the last shooter for GR and need to score to keep the Griffins alive. He made a great move and the puck ended up going in five hole setting off a huge shouting match as Danis thought he kicked the puck in. That was not borne out in the video review, so the goal stood. D'Agostini took the first sudden death shot for the bulldogs but was stopped by Jimmy, setting up some heroics by Carl Corazzini. Danis was hot and screaming at the linesman about the McGrath goal while Corazzini cut in on him. Carl deked and scored giving the Griffins the win, but the fun was not over. Danis immediately left the crease chasing after the referee. He was quickly followed by coach Lever who struck the linesman several times as he tried to get to the ref. It took several players to restrain him from assaulting the officials, and even then he picked up a puck and tried to throw it at the referee. The two of them continued to yell obscenities at the officials for several minutes until after the three star selections. I would expect a lengthy suspension for Lever and maybe a game or two for Danis.
Helm/#34 Clark - Cullen - Corazzini
Tardif - Oulahen/Helm - Engelhardt
Gelech/Tardif - McGrath - Ritola
Ericsson/Kindl - Insana
Quincey - Galvin
Ference - Stafford
Note: GR dressed 7 defenseman, so everyone played with everyone else.
Engelhardt - Cullen - Corazzini
Quincey/Ericsson - Stafford
Tardif - McGrath - Ritola
Insana - Kindl
Tardif - Oulahen
Stafford - Ference
Corazzini - Cullen
Ericsson - Insana
McGrath - Gelech
I can't believe the guys pulled off the comeback. There were several times I thought the game was over, but they came back and gutted it out.
I had an opportunity to talk to a very despondant Adam Keefe. He didn't know if he would end up back in the lineup and seemed very down. I told him to keep working hard and that things will work out, and assured him that the Griffins fans wished him well.
Ritola played a super physical game, and as evidenced by his 7 shots on goal, it seemed to really wake up his game. If he keeps improving at the rate he has the last couple of games, he should be dangerous the second half.
Neil Clark only got one shift, early in the game, and after going out of his way for a huge hit, he fell down and got caught behind the play. Hopefully he gets another chance.
Jimmy came up big again, but three goals on nine shots isn't something to be happy about. The good news is that he came up with saves when they needed them, and didn't fold up after giving up the goals.
Ericsson was a completely different player after his altercation with Locke. Hopefully that energy will carry over into the next few games.