Griffins Rout Rockford 5-2
Renouf's first pro goal stands as game-winner...
By Jason Kasiorek
December 31, 2016
The Griffins annual New Years Eve game may have started an hour early at 6PM, but the home team apparently didn't get the notice. Grand Rapids got off to a slow start, counting only four shots on goal in the first period and falling behind to the visiting Rockford IceHogs early. That all changed in the second period as the Griffins potent offense awoke and they blitzed the IceHogs for 5 goals and 35 shots over the final forty minutes. Grand Rapids got a pair of tallies from Tomas Nosek (8,9), and singles from Robbie Russo (5), Dan Renouf (1), and Eric Tangradi (3). Calvin Heeter picked up his 3rd win in three appearances stopping 24 of 26 shots.
Baun found a seem early, forcing Heeter to make a big save. Abbot walked in from the circle unmolested and wristed a shot in under Heeter's arm, stick-side, for an early lead just a minute and a half into the game. Rockford outplaying Grand Rapids badly in the first period. The Griffins back on their heels allowing the IceHogs to gain the zone with possession almost at will. Nice play by Russo to poke check the puck off the Rockford shooter's stick in the slot. The Griffins managed to escape the period down by only one goal, but only managed 4 shots, a Frk slapper from the circle, A long shot from Allen along the boards, a weak point shot by Renouf and a nice chance by Lorito in front on the rush. Shots on goal: GR 4 - Roc 8.
Eric Tangradi rolled the puck through the crease but no one was there to get a stick on it. Nathan Paetsch had a good rip from the circle but it hit Carruth. Kyle Criscuolo in front, took a pass from behind the net and had a glorious scoring chance. The Griffins got their first powerplay early in the period, and Nosek and Street nearly converted on an entertaining give and go, with Street getting it back for the shot. The IceHogs took another penalty giving the Griffins a 5-on-3. Frk's slapper broke a defenders stick, but the Griffins were not able to take advantage of it. Mitch Callahan followed up a rebound and drew a crowd at the edge of the crease after the whistle. After what seemed like an eternity of passing, Russo snapped a shot past Carruth to knot the score at 1. Great diving play by Hicketts to hold the the puck in at the line and keep the Griffins cycle going. Carruth made the first stop in close on Street in the slot, and then Tangradi picked up the rebound and roofed it for a 2-1 lead. Criscuolo picked up a loose puck and worked his way in deep. He dished as he was taken down, giving Grand Rapids a good scoring chance and a powerplay. Martin Frk promptly negated the mad advantage with an interference penalty. Nosek in alone and hit the post. Dan Renouf pinched deep and fired a low shot on Carruth that bounced through for his 1st pro goal. Shots on goal: GR 19 - Roc 11.
An IceHogs player got around Conor Allen but Hicketts slid and took everything away. Carrick rolled out of the corner behind Paetsch and put a shot on Heeter that just dribbled through to cut the lead to one. Nosek was sprung by Paetsch off the faceoff and went end to end, froze Carruth and slid it past him to restore the two goal cushion. Criscuolo hurt in front of the net and had a hard time getting off the ice. Lashoff flying around the offensive zone creating chances and frustrating the IceHogs counter attack. Nice shorthanded chance by Aubry and good work by his partner Bertuzzi. Two-on-one with Nosek and Lorito, both got a shot but couldn't get it in. Carruth to the bench for an extra skater, and then a Griffins penalty. Lashoff got the puck to Tangradi for a two on one with Nosek in on the empty net, and Nosek added his second tally of the game, a shorthanded goal. Shots on goal: GR 16 - Roc 7. For the Game: GR 39 - Roc 26.
Frk - Nosek- Lorito
Tangradi - Street - Callahan
Bertuzzi - Criscuolo - Svechnikov
Aubry - Turgeon - Borkowski
Lashoff - Allen
Renouf - Russo
Paetsch - Hicketts
#11 Cleary - Veteran
#45 Campbell - Injured
#55 Ford - Injured
Callahan - Nosek - Lorito
Frk - Street
Tangradi - Criscuolo - Svechnikov
Bertuzzi - Russo
Callahan - Street
Lashoff - Allen
Turgeon - Aubry
Paetsch - Renouf
Tangradi - Bertuzzi
What an amazing transformation between the first and second periods for this team. They looked lethargic and uninspired the first 20 minutes, then like someone threw a switch they came out and stunned Rockford. Just another example of how good this team can be when it wants to be. They can score in bunches and are capable of taking a game over in a very short amount of time and putting it away.
Bryan Lashoff was sporting the full face shield to protect the facial injury suffered in his recent call-up to Detroit. It did not appear to hamper him in any way as he was one of the best players on the ice and played a very aggressive game. He was flying around the ice, carrying the puck and playing the body. His defensive game was nearly airtight and he had a lot of jump.
Joe Hicketts also stood out tonight for GR. He did a great job of keeping the puck in at the line, several times diving and just poking it to a teammate as it looked to go over the line. He also sacrificed himself blocking shots at key times and took a big hit to make the play to get the puck deep instead of turning it over.
The defense as a whole stepped up offensively, and hopefully the goals by Renouf and Russo will give them the confidence to shoot the puck more which would add another layer of offense and unpredictability to the powerplay.