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Griffins Chomp Chops 6-0
Pare and Lemieux fire up offense...
By Jason Kasiorek

The two Frankie's line continues to blaze an offensive trail through the league, this time combining for three goals and seven points in a 6-0 rout of the visiting Iowa Chops. Goaltender Jimmy Howard recovered from a shaky outing last weekend to earn his second shutout of the campaign, stopping all 24 shots he faced. The shutout was Grand Rapids' fourth in the last six games coinciding with a 7-0-1-0 run that has rocketed the team into first place. The Griffins also got a goal from Ryan Oulahen (8) and powerplay markers from Ritola (11) and Ericsson (1).

Rookie phenom Francis Pare opened the scoring just past the five minute mark when he let a riser go from the circle that bounced in off Levasseur's blocker. Lemieux made a nice cross ice pass to set up the chance. The period had a nice pace with both teams getting chances, but the Griffins defense was in rare form, and very few of the Iowa chances were dangerous. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - Iowa 11.

The Griffins started the second with even more jump than the first, getting a great scoring chances in the opening seconds. McGrath and Pare two-on-none against Levasseur, but didn't have enough room to make the play. Two minutes later Leino rang a shot off the post, and the rebound came right out to Ritola in front who banged it home into the empty side of the net for a powerplay goal. A few minutes after that as a Griffins penalty expired, Oulahen went two-on-one with Abdelkader and used the defenseman as a screen, ripping a shot past Levasseur stick side. The chops had a one of their only dangerous chances in the second with possession right on the doorstep, but Howard made a couple of huge saves to keep them off the board. Grand Rapids fed off this and really began to exploit the Chops, springing so many odd man rushes I lost count. Leino made a world class move on one of them turning a dead two-on-one into a dangerous chance when he executed a spin-o-rama around the Iowa blueliner and put the puck on the tape of an astonished Abdelkader who was so surprised he couldn't get the shot off. It was easily the most dominant period of hockey the Griffins have played all season. Shots on Goal: GR 22 - Iowa 10.

The Griffins put the game away in third with a couple of quick goals that stunned the Chops and forced them to call a time out to settle things down. Frankie Pare got the puck deep and centered it for Lemieux who batted the puck out of midair past Levasseur. Off the next faceoff, the same line was creating havoc in front of the net again, and Evan McGrath stuffed the puck in on his knees in a goalmouth scramble. Kindl cleared the puck over the glass, leading to a delay of game penalty with four minutes and change left. The griffins killed off the penalty and got a good scoring chance to boot. A scrum after the whistle led to a GR powerplay with 1:38 on the clock, and the Griffins took advantage. Ericsson blasted a point shot in off the crossbar with three seconds left for his first of the season. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Iowa 3. For the Game: GR 37 - Iowa 24.

Lemieux - Pare - McGrath
Ritola - Emmerton - Haydar
Leino - Abdelkader - Downey
Oulahen - Helm - Tardif

Ericsson - Jozsa
Kolosov - Stafford
Kindl - Galvin

Starter: Howard
Backup: Larsson

Atherton - Knee

Leino - Helm - Abdelkader
Kindl - Haydar

Ritola - Emmerton - Tardif
Ericsson - Stafford

Oulahen - Helm - Tardif

Ritola - Abdelkader
Kolosov - Stafford

Oulahen - Haydar
Kindl - Galvin

Leino - Helm
Ericsson - Jozsa


Jimmy Howard was not tested much, but came up huge when he needed to. A very strong effort for Jimmy, and he really looked confidant in the net.

The Two Frankie's line gave the Chops fits all night long. The trio has also racked up 31 points over the last 10 games and has been remarkably consistent. Pare specifically looks dangerous in the offensive zone and the puck seems to follow him. The Wings have been keeping an eye on him and his strong play will probably lead to a contract with the big club soon.

Emmerton was a non-factor most of the game and does not look to be playing with the same intensity and energy as earlier in the year.

Haydar had a pretty good game and had several dangerous chances, but he still looks to be having the problem handling the puck.

Jamie Tardif had another strong game, playing in a role as a support player with Oulahen and Helm. This experiment could be a look at a future fourth line in Detroit with a little work. He seems to always make the safe play, and works hard in all three zones.

Jakub Kindl looks to have improved his release as he has gained confidence in his point shot. He is getting his point laser off quicker with greater accuracy and more often, making him a viable weapon with the man advantage.

That was the best game all season the defense has played a whole. Sergei Kolosov really was solid paired with Garrett Stafford and made some great plays on the penalty Kill. The Griffins played an almost error free game.

Official Game Sheet