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A BITTER END TO A BANNER YEAR

Toronto Marlies 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 1

Dec. 31, 2013

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – One night after Toronto spoiled Grand Rapids’ inaugural outdoor game with a shootout win in subfreezing conditions at Comerica Park, Marlies rookie goaltender Garret Sparks froze the Griffins’ top-ranked offense for most of Tuesday evening, making 31 saves en route to a 3-1 win at Van Andel Arena.  
 
The North Division-leading Marlies (18-10-2-1) have three victories in as many meetings with the Griffins this season and, with Chicago (3-2), are the only AHL teams with winning records against Grand Rapids. Each of Toronto’s first two series wins came past regulation time.
 
The Griffins (22-8-1-2), who closed out a tremendous 2013 that garnered a Calder Cup championship and a 46-24-4-5 (0.639) regular season record during the calendar year, will welcome in 2014 on Friday when they host Chicago at 7 p.m. Their 47 points continue to lead both Milwaukee (38) and Chicago (37) in the Midwest Division race.
 
Defenseman T.J. Brennan, who tallied a hat trick in Toronto’s 4-3 overtime win against Grand Rapids on Oct. 5, opened the scoring 11:47 into the first period. He gathered a rebound to the left of the net, circled behind the cage and lifted a shot over a prone Tom McCollum from below the right circle.
 
The score remained 1-0 until Brennan set up another Marlies tally during a power play at 3:24 of the third, launching a one-timer from the right point that Troy Bodie bounced past McCollum with a deflection.
 
Wade MacLeod beat McCollum from close range at the 10:21 mark to make it a 3-0 game, but the Griffins finally solved Sparks on a Mitch Callahan wrister from the left circle 1:39 later to claw back within two goals. Grand Rapids could get no closer, though, despite pulling McCollum for an extra attacker over most of the game’s final three minutes.
 
McCollum finished with 16 saves for the Griffins, who are 1-3-0-1 in their last five games on the heels of a 19-3 run.
 
Notes: Tonight’s sellout crowd of 10,834 was the second of the season at Van Andel Arena and the Griffins’ first on New Year’s Eve since 2010. Grand Rapids’ last four Dec. 31 crowds have been in excess of 10,000…The Griffins are now 7-9-0-1 all time when playing their traditional New Year’s Eve home game, with tonight’s loss breaking their three-year winning streak in the event. 
 
Three Stars: 1. TOR Brennan (goal, assist); 2. TOR Sparks (W, 31 saves); 3. GR Callahan (goal)

 
Griffins Game Rewind
GriffVision Video Highlights & Interviews
WOOD Radio Highlight: Callahan Coal
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Official Game Report

 


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