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GRIFFINS DROP FOURTH STRAIGHT BY A GOAL

Grand Rapids, Mich. - The Grand Rapids Griffins and Houston Aeros locked horns in a classic goaltending battle on Saturday at Van Andel Arena, with the Aeros and Josh Harding prevailing by a 1-0 count to send the Griffins to their fourth consecutive one-goal loss.

Harding’s 40 saves, the most ever made by an opponent while shutting out the Griffins, trumped the 33 shots turned aside by Joey MacDonald, who saw only a first period deflection elude his grasp. With each of the four straight defeats coming during the team’s record nine-game homestand, Grand Rapids has now lost four in a row at Van Andel Arena for the first time in six seasons and four straight overall for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.


The Griffins (5-3-1-0) will try to prove the third time a charm next Friday, when they host a third consecutive tilt against the Aeros (6-4-1-1). Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.


The Aeros scored the lone goal 12:18 into the game, when Christoph Brandner redirected a Brent Burns blast from the right point just inside the left post.


Beginning midway through the second period, the Griffins saw several prime chances to penetrate Harding go by the wayside. A shorthanded breakaway attempt by Kory Karlander found Harding’s glove, and the Aeros killed off a five-minute high-sticking penalty assessed to former Griffin Patrick Traverse at 11:24. Adding to the frustration of Grand Rapids’ 31 fruitless shots over the first 40 minutes, Harding somehow kept Matt Ellis’ point-blank shot out of the net following a scramble with two minutes remaining in the frame.


The Griffins were limited to only nine shots in the third but still had several opportunities on Harding, who stopped 71 of 74 shots during the weekend sweep. Blake Sloan had one final chance to spoil the shutout in the closing seconds, but his shot from the right circle couldn’t thread its way between the goaltender and the right post.


Grand Rapids last suffered four straight defeats in friendly confines during an overall six-game skid (0-4-2) from Dec. 5-31, 1998.


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