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GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 at Hamilton Bulldogs 3

April 15, 2012

HAMILTON, Ontario –
Aaron Palushaj’s last-minute goal boosted the Hamilton Bulldogs over the Grand Rapids Griffins for the second consecutive game, as the Bulldogs grabbed a 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Copps Coliseum.

The Griffins finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 33-32-7-4 record and 77 points, two points ahead of Hamilton (34-35-2-5), which finished fifth in the North Division.

Hamilton picked up where it left off last night, when it scored five unanswered goals in a 5-2 win over Grand Rapids, by scoring the game’s first two goals. Blake Geoffrion opened the scoring at 7:54 when he converted on a pass from Palushaj on the team’s first power play chance.

The Bulldogs added a second special teams goal at 16:52 of the opening frame. With the faceoff deep in the Griffins zone, Andreas Engqvist won the puck cleanly back to defenseman Joe Callahan, who forced a wrist shot through traffic and over the glove of Jordan Pearce to give the home team a 2-0 lead.

A goaltending change from Pearce to Tom McCollum seemed to spark the Griffins in the second period. Brian Lashoff got the Griffins on the scoresheet at 4:23 with an impressive individual effort, cutting hard to the goal and getting a solid shot on Hamilton netminder Robert Mayer. Mayer made the stop, but a backchecking Hamilton player knocked the rebound into the net to bring the Griffins within one.

Jamie Johnson evened the score before the second period ended, notching his 21st goal of the season. The Griffins broke into the Hamilton zone and Francis Pare took the puck wide around the Bulldogs defense. He threw the puck on goal, where Johnson was waiting to lift the rebound high above Mayer at 17:09.

After being awarded their fourth man advantage of the third period – and seventh of the game – the Hamilton power play converted for the second time with just 43 seconds left in the game. Palushaj collected a pass in the high slot and beat McCollum over the glove with a hard wrist shot to give Hamilton the 3-2 lead.

It was the only blemish on McCollum for the afternoon, as he made 17 stops in a relief effort. Mayer saved 29 of 31 in the Hamilton victory.

Three Stars: 1. HAM Engqvist (two assists); 2. HAM Mayer (W, 29 saves); 3. GR Tatar (assist)

Griffins Game Rewind
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