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THE HEAT IS ON

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 at Stockton Heat 5 SO

March 12, 2017

STOCKTON, Calif.Joe Hicketts' game-tying goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation rescued a point for the Grand Rapids Griffins, but Linden Vey scored the lone marker in the shootout to give the Stockton Heat the victory in a 5-4 decision on Sunday at Stockton Arena.
 
Dropping back-to-back shootouts for the second time this season (Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2016), Grand Rapids (38-17-1-4) finished 3-2-0-2 (0.571) over a seven-game, 15-day road trip that covered five cities and three time zones. The result also gives the Griffins a one-point lead over the Chicago Wolves in the Central Division standings with a game in hand. Those two teams face off at Van Andel Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. in the first half of a home-and-home series.
 
Stockton (26-23-4-1) burned the Griffins early, scoring 1:59 into the opening period. After Matt Frattin’s initial effort from the right circle was fought off by Jared Coreau, he raced into the slot to collect his own rebound and lift a shot inside the left post.
 
The hosts grabbed a 2-0 lead on a delayed penalty when Mark Jankowski’s centering pass from the left circle deflected off the left skate of Andrew Mangiapane in front and trickled inside the right post exactly seven minutes in.
 
Kyle Criscuolo got the Griffins on the scoresheet with a power play tally at the 16:07 mark of the first frame. On a strong individual effort, Criscuolo took the puck out of a scrum at the right half-boards and worked in close for a pair of chances, eventually swatting his own rebound out of mid-air past the catching glove of Jon Gillies.
 
Stockton restored its two-goal cushion 8:26 into the second. Coreau kicked aside Vey’s wrist shot with the left pad, but Mangiapane was in position at the back door to guide the rebound into an open net.
 
Grand Rapids carried the play throughout the latter stages of the middle period, erasing a 3-1 deficit with goals 1:17 apart. Ben Street capitalized on another power play at the 14:36 mark when he worked his way in front and moved to the forehand to stuff the puck inside the left post for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season. 
 
The Griffins evened the score on an eventual odd-man rush as Dan Renouf received a drop pass from Criscuolo in the high slot and ripped a wrist shot off the left post and in. Stockton was fortunate not to be trailing heading into the second intermission after Eric Tangradi hit metal with 1:20 left.
 
The Heat benefited from fortunate bounces and jumped back in front with 7:55 to go in regulation. Mike Kostka’s shot from the right half-boards glanced off the stick of Criscuolo at the right circle and straight to Mikkel Aagaard in front for another deflection over Coreau’s blocker.
 
Grand Rapids continued to apply pressure and pulled Coreau for the extra attacker with just over a minute to play. Hicketts played catch with Nathan Paetsch at the point before faking a one-timer and moving toward the middle for a wrist shot through traffic past a screened Gillies with 16 seconds remaining to force the extra session.
 
The Griffins started overtime with Tyler Bertuzzi, Criscuolo and Hicketts while the Heat opened with Frattin, Vey and Oliver Kylington. The best chance from either side came on a Stockton 2-on-1 when Frattin opted to shoot from the left circle but was turned away by Coreau’s right pad near the 3:30 mark. 
 
For the second time in as many nights, the game ended with a skills competition. Vey netted the lone goal in the opening round, starting with a burst of speed only to slow down dramatically in the slot and place a shot inside the left post to give the Heat their fourth consecutive win and seventh in nine games. Matt Lorito, Evgeny Svechnikov and Bertuzzi all came up empty in the shootout.
 
The Griffins finished 2-for-4 while Stockton converted on 1-of-4 opportunities. Gillies stopped 30 shots to earn the victory as Coreau blocked 27 in defeat.
 
Notes: Griffins' equipment manager Brad Thompson worked his 1,500th game on Sunday…Criscuolo’s goal was the team's first in a 104:21 span, dating back to the second period of a 5-4 defeat at Texas on Wednesday…Martin Frk and Street are the first Griffins duo to score 10 or more power play goals in a single season since Darren Haydar and Justin Abdelkader netted 16 and 10, respectively, during the 2008-09 campaign...Grand Rapids finished 7-3-0-2 (0.667) against Pacific Division foes this season.
 
Three Stars: 1. STK Mangiapane (two goals); 2. STK Vey (shootout-winning goal, assist); 3. STK Kostka (two assists)