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PLUCK O' THE SWEDISH

Hamilton Bulldogs 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5

March 17, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
Gustav Nyquist’s two goals and one assist on Saturday earned him the franchise rookie scoring record and propelled the Grand Rapids Griffins to a crucial 5-3 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs at Van Andel Arena.

With the back-and-forth contest seemingly destined for overtime with less than two minutes remaining, Nyquist put the cherry on his memorable night by notching the game-winner off a cannon from the left point with 1:54 left, then setting up Brent Raedeke’s insurance tally 43 seconds later.

The Griffins (28-24-6-4) racked up 46 shots en route to their third five-goal outburst in the last four games and improved to 8-3-1-0 behind Ty Conklin, who made 32 saves in yet another solid effort. They’ll head back on the road to continue their playoff push with four straight games in the southwest, beginning with Tuesday’s 8 p.m. EDT visit to San Antonio.

Hamilton’s Gabriel Dumont opened the scoring by putting a rebound past Conklin just 1:10 into the contest, but the Griffins answered at 3:55 when Francis Pare connected from the left circle for the 76th goal of his Grand Rapids career, moving him past Kip Miller into sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time list.

Mitch Callahan put the Griffins ahead 2-1 at the 8:34 mark of the second period. Louis-Marc Aubry forced a turnover along the left boards and slipped the puck to Callahan, who quickly launched a wrister from the left faceoff dot that flew past Robert Mayer.

Dumont notched his second of the night during a power play at 17:17, beating a sprawled Conklin with a slap shot from the left side, but Nyquist made history 80 seconds later to again put Grand Rapids on top at 3-2. Following a giveaway in front of the Hamilton net, Jamie Johnson fed Nyquist for the rookie’s team-high 21st goal and 56th point of the season, breaking the first-year scoring record set by Glen Metropolit (55 points in 79 games) during the 1997-98 campaign.

The Bulldogs’ Joonas Nattinen forged the third tie of the night at 7:43 of the third, spinning in the high slot and firing a shot that clanged off the crossbar and down into the net.

Nyquist’s decisive second goal, on the power play, prompted a vehement argument from the Hamilton bench that Mayer had been interfered with by a screening Joakim Andersson, but to no avail. Now showing 58 points on the season – seventh overall in the AHL and second among rookies – Nyquist has moved into a tie for third all time among Griffins rookies with 22 goals, matching Kevyn Adams (1996-97) and pulling within two of Justin Abdelkader and Pare (both 2008-09).

Notes: Russ Campbell of Wyoming, Mich., became the 5 millionth fan in Griffins franchise history when he walked through the turnstiles about 30 minutes before tonight’s game. Campbell, who attended the game with his children, Hunter and Autumn, received a prize package that included: a customized Griffins jersey with the numeral 5; five lower bowl tickets to every Griffins home game during the ensuing 5 million seconds (58 days); enough Marathon gas cards to travel 5 million feet, courtesy of J&H Family Stores ($150); 5 million microliters of Pepsi (5 liters); 5 million micrometers of hot dogs (32 packaged dogs); 5 million milligrams of Van Andel Arena popcorn (11 pounds); five tickets to Cirque du Soleil at Van Andel Arena; five entrees from Qdoba; five days of recognition on the griffinshockey.com splash page; and a 5 million microsecond (five second) standing ovation from Griffins fans during a second-period presentation.

Three Stars: 1. GR Nyquist (two goals, assist); 2. HAM Dumont (two goals); 3. GR Conklin (W, 32 saves)


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