Bulldogs Savage Griffins 7-3
Holiday contest no gift for Grand Rapids...
By Jason Kasiorek
The Griffins continued their defensive struggles with a record six goals against in the second period to fall to the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs 7-3. Grand Rapids held a two one lead at the end of the first on goals by Emmerton and Delmore before allowing the Bulldogs six unanswered goals and changing netminders twice. Jan Mursak added the other Griffins tally in the third to complete the scoring for the home team. GR lost it's season worst fifth game in a row, playing without several regulars on recall to Detroit (NHL) or injured. Defensemen Janik (Detroit), Kindl (hand) and Kolosov (concussion) were all sorely missed. Starter Daniel larsson finished with 26 saves on 30 shots, while backup Thomas McCollum was blitzed for 3 goals on 8 shots in just 12 minutes work.
Griffins fans new it was going to be a long night early, when 18 seconds in, Larsson's defense bailed and left him alone. He made the first two stops, but was out of position to stop the third with White scoring into the empty side of the net. A few minutes later, Newbury and Belle went at it along the boards just down from Hamilton's bench. After a short scrap, Newbury was assessed a game misconduct for leaving the bench to fight. Grand Rapids got its first powerplay around the five minute mark and wasted little time in capitalizing on it. Emmerton took a feed from Tardif and scored on a quick shot from the slot just six seconds into the penalty. Delmore made it 2-1 at the 10 minute mark when his bullet from the circle cleanly beat Sanford. Crosty and Henry squared off at center ice on the next play. Henry got some good shots in early, but Crosty got him in a headlock and popped him in the face several times before it was broken up. Sanford came up lame after a goal mouth scramble and after remaining on the ice for some time, was eventually helped off the ice and replaced by Desjardins. Shots on Goal: GR 14 - Ham 10.
After a great first period, the wheel fell off in the second. A minute and change into the period, St Denis got in front of Larsson and flipped the puck over his shoulder to tie the game. Less than 30 seconds later, Ehrhardt gave his man way to much room coming into the zone and paid the price as Subban burned a long shot past a surprised Larsson. Just past the five minute mark Stokes left his man alone at the back door and Trotter converted a Belle centering pass for an easy goal. Fraser called for a change, and McCollum went in to the net. Larsson was bent and slammed the door to the bench several times, throwing his gloves in disgust. He should be unhappy, he was left out to dry by his defense way too many times. The Griffins were outshot 11-1 in the first seven and a half minutes of the period with Hamilton dominating. A big scrum broke out in front of McCollum with several players squaring off and wrestling. Benoit made it 5-2 midway through the period when he took a feed from Subban and rifled a shot over MCCollum. A few minutes later, with a crowd in front of McCollum, Pyatt was allowed to get possession and position, and he converted it in front to make it 6-2. The final nail for McCollum came at 17:23 when Russell scored, sending the rookie back to bench in favor of Larsson. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - Ham 17.
An irate Larsson slammed the door shut again in the third, stopping all eleven shots he faced. Mursak got a goal five minutes in to cut the deficit to four goals, winding up for a monster shot that bounced in past Desjardins. The ongoing battle between Williams and Subban boiled over midway through the third, with Williams attacking the burly defenseman. It was luck for Williams that Subban couldn't get a good shot at him before being escorted to the box. Ryan White and Jamie tardif dropped the gloves soon after with the Griffins captain getting pummelled in a one sided bout. Shots on Goal: GR 6 - Ham 11. For the Game: GR 27 - Mil 38.
Emmerton - Nylander - #20 Williams
Rissmiller - Pare - Mursak
#21 Lemieux - McGrath - Rohlfs
Vigilante - Newbury/Rissmiller - Tardif
#7 Stokes - Delmore
Ehrhardt - #27 Galvin
Crosty - Pyett
Kindl - Hand
Kolosov - Concussion
Emmerton/Rissmiller - Nylander - Tardif
Williams - Delmore
Lemieux - Emmerton - Tardif
Ehrhardt - Pyett
Rissmiller - Mursak
Pyett - Ehrhardt
Nylander - Williams
Stokes - Galvin
3 Subban - Ham
2 Pyatt - Ham
1 Darche - Ham
The first period and third period were not too bad, but the wheels really fell off in the third. This team was a mess defensively, with an open road leading to their own net. Delmore got burned a few times, while Stokes, Galvin and Ehrhardt just seemed to leave their man open and go the corner way to often. Logan Pyett was a lone positive spot on the blueline, paired with regular partner Crosty, or filling in somewhere else.
The Mursak-Rissmiller combination continues to do most of the heavy lifting up front, with Emmerton deciding to be involved tonight, posting 8 shots on goal.