Rockford IceHogs 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 6
Nov. 6, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Six was much more than just the date of Grand Rapids’ 13th annual matinee game at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, as a 6-2 win over the Rockford IceHogs gave the Griffins their sixth straight victory and improved Tom McCollum’s record this season to 6-0.
Behind 27 saves, McCollum joined teammate Petr Mrazek (2012-13) as the only two netminders in Griffins history to start a season with six straight wins, and he helped Grand Rapids achieve its longest winning streak since an eight-game run from Nov. 3-24, 2012.
With their second win over Rockford in four days, the Griffins (8-2-1-1) increased their lead atop the Midwest Division to three points over the IceHogs and continued the third-hottest start in franchise history. In addition, pending the result of tonight’s game between San Antonio and Abbotsford, they reclaimed the overall Western Conference lead by one point over the Heat.
Grand Rapids will try to make it seven in a row on Friday with a 7:30 p.m. visit to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Griffins began the onslaught with a pair of first-period goals just 3:17 apart. Andrej Nestrasil tallied his first of the season at the 10:22 mark, when he collected the puck in the right corner, made a beeline for the net and jammed a shot past Antti Raanta. Minutes later, Riley Sheahan chased down a pass in the left circle and quickly sent a feed across to Luke Glendening for an easy tap-in and a 2-0 lead.
Rockford (7-6-1-0) benefitted from a fortunate bounce to get on the board 1:17 into the middle frame. From the left boards, Adam Clendening turned and threw a puck into the slot that deflected off the skate of a Griffins defender and behind McCollum.
The Griffins, however, answered with three more goals in the ensuing 5:27 to build a comfortable 5-1 cushion. Standing to the left of the net, Gustav Nyquist gathered a rebound and calmly lifted a shot into a yawning cage at 2:09, before Teemu Pulkkinen crashed the crease to put back another rebound at 3:59. That goal sent Raanta to the bench in favor of Kent Simpson, but Nyquist potted yet another second chance at the 6:44 mark to secure his second two-goal game in a span of eight days.
Awarded a power play later in the period, Grand Rapids struck again at 13:49 to make it 6-1. Nathan Paetsch fired a shot from the right point that hugged the ice before being tipped by Jeff Hoggan inside the far post.
Brad Winchester accounted for the final margin by beating McCollum from close range with 10:54 remaining in the game.
Simpson stopped 19 of 21 shots in relief of Raanta (16-of-20), who took the loss.
Notes: The Griffins won their second straight matinee game to improve to 9-3-0-1 all time in the event…The crowd of 6,118 included approximately 4,000 elementary and high school students from across West Michigan.
Three Stars: 1. GR Nyquist (two goals); 2. GR Sproul (three assists); 3. GR McCollum (W, 27 saves)