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OT LOSS DAMPENS MACINTYRE'S STELLAR DEBUT

Grand Rapids, Mich. - Despite a record-setting 45-save debut by Drew MacIntyre, the Grand Rapids Griffins suffered a rare overtime loss to the Houston Aeros on Friday at Van Andel Arena, falling by a 4-3 count on NHL veteran Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s second tally of the night at 2:44 of the extra frame.

MacIntyre established franchise records for saves both in a home game and in a Griffins debut, but Grand Rapids squandered a 2-0 lead along with an overtime-forcing goal by Niklas Kronwall with 18.5 ticks left in regulation. As a result, the Griffins sustained their first overtime loss since Nov. 30, 2002, snapping a streak of 10 consecutive OT wins.


The Griffins (5-2-1-0) will continue their record nine-game homestand, including an unprecedented three straight games against Houston (5-4-1-1), with a rematch at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.


Following a scoreless opening frame, Nathan Robinson gave the Griffins the lead in spectacular fashion early in the second with his first goal of the season. Picking up the loose puck inside his own blue line, Robinson dangled through the neutral zone, put an incredible move on an Aeros defender at the top of the left circle and whipped a shot past Josh Harding into the upper right corner of the net at 5:11. Several minutes later, MacIntyre kept it a 1-0 game by robbing Matt Foy point-blank with a brilliant left pad save, one of 21 stops he would make by the game’s midpoint.


During a 4-on-4 situation later in the period, Travis Richards took advantage of the extra room to give the home team a two-goal cushion, stuffing a backhand past Harding at the 14:13 mark. The goal was Richards’ first in a span of 71 regular season games, going back to Nov. 11, 2003 against this same Houston club. MacIntyre finished his perfect stanza with 18 saves, one shy of the Griffins’ record for a home period. The standard of 19 was set three times previously, most recently by Patrick Lalime against the Cleveland Lumberjacks on March 17, 1998.


Early in the third, Harding kept the score 2-0 by stoning Eric Himelfarb on a shorthanded breakaway, one of 31 stops he would make on the night. Minutes later, a controversial power play goal at 2:39 pulled Houston back into the contest and cost MacIntyre his shutout bid. Bouchard got credit for a goal scored during a scramble in the crease, despite the Griffins’ fierce protests that the puck was kicked into the net.


The reinvigorated Aeros kept applying pressure, tying the game and eventually taking a 3-2 lead before Kronwall’s equalizer. Stephane Veilleux finished off a three-man rush by scoring top-shelf from the slot at 12:16, and 2004 Hobey Baker Award winner Junior Lessard put Houston ahead on a laser with just 3:39 remaining.



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