03/23/2013 9:31 PM
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5 at Lake Erie Monsters 4 OT
March 23, 2013
CLEVELAND – What started as a one-sided affair ended in a dramatic, come-from-behind overtime victory for the Grand Rapids Griffins, as Adam Almquist’s career night led the team to a 5-4 win over the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Monsters (28-28-3-7) picked up where they left off last night, when they defeated the Griffins 4-3 in a shootout at Van Andel Arena. Back on home ice, Lake Erie scored two goals in the first 3:11 of the game, courtesy of Luke Walker’s eighth of the season at 2:14 and Mike Sgarbossa’s 19th of the season just 57 seconds later.
Bill Thomas extended Lake Erie’s lead to three at 11:32 of the opening frame. With the Griffins skating down a man, Joey Hishon found the puck after a frantic goal-mouth scramble, sliding it past Tom McCollum and off Thomas’ skate. Hishon picked up his first professional point on the play after recording the shootout-deciding goal last night.
Despite the deficit, the Griffins (37-21-3-3) came out with a renewed energy for the second period. Their efforts were rewarded at 1:27, when Almquist notched his first of the night. Almquist stepped up at the blueline to intercept a Monsters’ clearing attempt and gave the puck to Tomas Tatar inside the blueline. Almquist drove to the net and collected a cross-crease feed to put the Griffins on the board.
Louis-Marc Aubry gave Grand Rapids more life at 9:16 of the second period. Aubry collected a pass from Almquist and skated the puck deep into the Monsters zone. He appeared to be looking for a pass before letting a shot go that beat Calvin Pickard under the glove and cut the home team’s lead to one.
The Griffins drew even at 18:39 of the second period after Mitch Callahan’s 11th goal of the season. Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan put a shot on goal that was stopped, but Callahan jumped on the rebound and slipped the puck between the legs of Pickard.
The teams exchanged goals early in the third period to knot the game at four. David van der Gulik cleaned up his own rebound in front of the Griffins net at 3:42 before Almquist struck back with his second of the night just 65 seconds later, sneaking in from the point to one-time a pass from Tatar into the net.
Tatar and Almquist connected again with just 10 seconds left in overtime, as the Griffins defenseman registered his third goal and fourth point of the night with a blast over Pickard’s glove, capping off the wild victory. Almquist became the third defensemen in franchise history to record a hat trick and the second to do so in under a month, joining Chad Billins (Feb. 24 vs. San Antonio) and Logan Pyett (Feb. 27, 2011 at Hamilton).
McCollum made 33 saves in the win for Grand Rapids, and Pickard stopped 22 for Lake Erie.
The game marked the Griffins’ first of a season-high seven-game road trip. The team will be back in action on Thursday at San Antonio at 8 p.m. EDT.
Three Stars: 1. GR Almquist (OT winner, hat trick, assist); 2. GR Tatar (three assists); 3. LE L. Walker (goal, assist)