Late Mistakes Lead to 3-0 Blanking by Peoria|
Mrazek sharp in losing effort...
By Jason Kasiorek
December 14th, 2012
The Griffins suffered a tough loss on home ice, coming out on the wrong side of a defensive battle 3-1. Grand Rapids fired 33 shots at towering Rivermen netminder Jake Allen, but could not get one by him. Goaltender Petr Mrazek matched Allen save for save for the first 50 minutes ending with 29 stops on the night. Late in the third Peoria capitalized on two defensive gaffes by the Griffins in a 2:28 span to break a scoreless game open.
Grand Rapids and Peoria traded early powerplays but neither team inflicted any damage. The Griffins had back to back penalties, but the penalty killing unit was up to the task. Callahan had a shorthanded breakaway and tried to put it in five-hole. Andersson, the late man, picked up the rebound and ripped a shot at Allen and then Callahan had another chance. Despite being shorthanded, the Griffins were flying in first, using their speed to drive the transition game which had Peoria back on its heels. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - Peo 10.
The second period featured a little bit more hitting, but still wasn't overly physical. Hoggan smoked Cole almost into the Griffins bench with a heavy hit. Big stop by Mrazek on a rocket from the circle on the powerplay. Both teams had chances but still 0-0. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Peo 8.
The Griffins were not as sharp in the third, and looked like they were slowing down. Tatar had a point blank chance in front and fired it right into Allen. Blashill changed up the lines a bit to try and get something going offensively. Pare fell down at the line allowing an odd man situation for Peoria in the Griffins zone and they capitalized, scoring the first goal of the match to take a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later Lashoff turned a puck over in the zone and Shattock picked up Grachev's rebound for an easy score into the open side of the net. Mrazek was summoned to the bench for an extra skater with three minutes remaining to try and get the Griffins back into the game. Schwartz put the nail in the coffin with an empty netter with about 2 minutes left. Mrazek back to the bench again and a Rivermen penalty lead to a 6-on-4 for the Griffins, but they couldn't get the puck past Allen. Shots on Goal: GR 16 - Peo 14. For the Game: GR 33 - Peo 32.
Tatar/Callahan/Jurco - Andersson - Nyquist
Pare - Sheahan - Jurco/Tatar
Hoggan - Ferraro - Parkes/Callahan
Grant - Aubry - Callahan
Paetsch - Smith
Almquist - Lashoff
Evans - Billins
Tatar - Andersson - Nyquist
Smith - Billins
Jurco/Pare - Sheahan - Parkes/Ferraro
Almquist - Evans
Andersson - Callahan
Paetsch - Smith
Aubry - Ferraro
Evans - Lashoff/Almquist
Sheahan - Ferraro
A brutal loss for Grand Rapids, two gaffes in two and a half minutes completely wipes out a very good game. The team did not look like it had the same jump in the third that it did in the first two periods. A costly lesson in playing a full 60 minutes coupled with a few bad breaks and bounces.
Almquist saw some extra time on the penalty kill with Lashoff in the box and looked very comfortable. He is so efficient and poised in moving the puck up ice and has a quick stick.
I thought for sure after his meltdown in the last game that Callahan would be in the press box tonight, but he played and played well. He was very effective on the penalty kill and was rewarded for his hard work with a few shifts on the top line. He had a glorious scoring chance shorthanded and shows a flair for making clutch plays and being able to surprise with skill ala McCarty in his prime. He also looks faster than he has in the past (as mentioned before) something that he uses to full effect as a forechecker.
Andersson spent a lot of the night camped out in the slot taking abuse and played a grittier game than normal.
A big kudos to the entire blueline corps tonight. During the first two periods, they did a tremendous job of moving the puck back up ice. It was so quick and effortless, the puck wold come back and within two strides it was going the other way. Paetsch, Smith, Almquist, Lashoff and Billins all carried the puck into the zone to set up plays, and the pinpoint tic-tac-toe passing to start the breakout were a thing of beauty.
Sheahan stood out tonight, and despite the -2 (totally not his fault), he exhibited the combination of skill and physical play that hint to his top end. Several times he bullied his way into the circle, chased the puck down (or just took it away) and threaded a pass or shot through traffic to set up a scoring chance. When they start going in, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
As stated before, Mrazek could not be faulted on any of the goals scored tonight and deserved a better fate after the game he played.