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EASY STREET

Rockford IceHogs 1 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 6

Jan. 7, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Another big night by Ben Street powered the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 6-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.

As he did in Wednesday’s 6-5 win over Iowa, Street scored a pair of early goals to stake the Griffins to a 2-0 lead then tacked on an assist for a three-point night, giving Grand Rapids more than enough offense against the last-place team in the Central Division.

The victory gives the Griffins points in 16 of their last 19 games overall (13-3-1-2) and in nine of their last 10 outings on home ice (7-1-0-2). Having closed out a four-game homestand, they will hit the road for four straight beginning Friday in Milwaukee at 8 p.m. EST. Pending the result of the Admirals’ late game at Stockton tonight, Grand Rapids (22-9-1-2, 0.691) has at least for the moment leap-frogged Milwaukee (0.688) to move back into first place in the division.

Street’s shot from the point during a power play 1:32 into the game deflected off a Rockford defenseman and into the net, and he followed it up at 4:01 by using his quick hands to stuff a rebound past Mac Carruth from close quarters.

Just when it looked like the IceHogs (11-19-2-3) might escape the opening period with no more damage, Kyle Criscuolo displayed outstanding hand-eye coordination to score Grand Rapids’ third goal with 6.8 seconds remaining. Carruth denied a long shot by Matthew Ford, but as the rebound popped into air near the left post, Criscuolo fought off his defender to bat the puck into the cage on his backhand.

The Griffins’ league-leading power play paid another dividend midway through the second period, after three straight Rockford penalties gave the Griffins the man-advantage for nearly four consecutive minutes. Martin Frk, who had only one two-goal game to show for his goal-scoring efforts over the last 14 outings, connected on his 10th shot of the night, a rocket from the left circle at 9:54 that put the Griffins ahead 4-0.

Cal Heeter lost his shutout bid during a delayed penalty 5:43 into the third, as Nick Schmaltz slammed a backdoor pass from Carl Dahlstrom into a wide-open net. He finished with 28 saves to improve to 4-1 on the season.

Street incurred a double minor for high-sticking with 4:42 remaining, and given their four-minute power play, the IceHogs opted to pull Carruth to give the visitors a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters. That strategy backfired 13 seconds later, as Tomas Nosek turned and fired on a loose puck in the left circle, sending it the length of the ice and into the vacated net to make it a 5-1 contest.

Rockford reinstituted the ploy soon after and once again paid the price when Mitch Callahan tossed the puck into the empty net with 1:19 left. Callahan’s 88th goal as a Griffin moved him into sole possession of third place in franchise history, ahead of Tomas Tatar (87) and behind only Francis Pare (102) and Michel Picard (158).

Carruth stopped 27-of-31 shots for the IceHogs, who were scoreless in four power play chances while allowing Grand Rapids to go 2-for-6 with the advantage.

Three Stars: 1. GR Street (two goals, assist); 2. GR Frk (power play goal, assist); 3. GR Heeter (W, 28 saves)