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Chicago Wolves 4 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5 OT

Dec. 3, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.Joakim Andersson scored his second goal of the night on a breakaway 3:17 into overtime on Saturday to give the Grand Rapids Griffins a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Chicago Wolves and their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Moments after Tom McCollum made a tremendous point-blank stop on Anton Rodin to keep Grand Rapids alive, Brent Raedeke sprung Andersson on the break, and he ripped a shot past Matt Climie’s glove to ignite the Van Andel Arena crowd of 7,783.

The Griffins (10-11-1-0), who hadn’t won three in a row since March 12-16 or two consecutive home games since March 19-20, have climbed back into the thick of the Western Conference race, as they now sit just one point behind a three-team, eighth-place logjam. They’ll play three straight and five of the next six on the road, beginning with a Friday visit to Milwaukee at 8 p.m. EST.

The ice was tilted towards the Wolves’ end in the opening minutes of the contest, with the Griffins enjoying extended puck possession in Chicago’s zone even before Yann Sauve was whistled off for hooking 2:30 in. Grand Rapids kept the pressure on during its advantage and broke through for the first goal at the 4:01 mark, when Fabian Brunnstrom found a rebound just outside the crease and banged the puck behind Climie for his second goal as a Griffin.

A dazzling effort by Bill Sweatt set up Chicago’s initial goal at the 12:48 mark. He sped down the left side with the puck before hitting the brakes in the left circle, spinning and slipping a backhanded pass through the slot to Jordan Schroeder for an easy backdoor tally.

The deadlock lasted little more than a minute, though, as the Griffins reclaimed the lead when Doug Janik’s shot from the left point was deflected by Willie Coetzee and fluttered over Climie at 14:10.   

In the second period, Brunnstrom deftly stripped the puck from a Chicago player in the neutral zone and eventually gave it to Jamie Johnson, who skated out from behind the net and fed Gustav Nyquist on the left side for a goal that gave the Griffins a 3-1 cushion at the 7:47 mark.

The goals came fast and furious later in the frame, beginning with an exchange of power play markers. Mark Mancari set up to the left of the net to redirect Chris Tanev’s point shot with the shaft of his stick at 12:46, but Andersson backhanded a rebound past Climie from the doorstep at 14:07 to re-establish the Griffins’ two-goal lead at 4-2.

Mancari, however, rounded out a hat trick by lighting the lamp at 14:26 and 17:06, the latter coming on the power play, to even matters entering a third period that would pass without a goal by either team.

McCollum authored his third triumph of the week behind 28 saves, marking his longest winning streak as a Griffin since he posted four straight victories as a rookie more than two years ago (Oct. 24-Nov. 13, 2009). Climie finished with 36 stops for the Wolves (9-7-1-3), who are winless in their last three outings (0-1-1-1).

Three Stars: 1. CHI Mancari (hat trick); 2. GR Brunnstrom (power play goal, assist); 3. GR Andersson (game-winning goal, power play goal)

Griffins Game Rewind
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ESPN Radio Highlights:  Nyquist Goal   Andersson Goal   Mancari Goal   Andersson Game-Winning Goal
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