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MEECH'S LONG SHOT BURIES BARONS, 3-2

CLEVELAND – The Grand Rapids Griffins used two power play goals and timely goaltending to defeat the Cleveland Barons 3-2 on Friday night at Gund Arena. Grand Rapids (9-4-1-0) is the circuit’s only team that can boast a perfect road record, as tonight’s win improves the Griffins’ mark to 4-0-0-0.

The same two teams tangle on Saturday at Van Andel Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Five seconds after a Cleveland power play ended, the Barons (7-7-1-1) struck first when Craig Valette slid a backhander beneath Drew MacIntyre. Aaron Gill and Christian Ehrhoff chopped at the puck in a goalmouth scramble before Valette cashed in at 3:35 of the opening period.

The Griffins ended a 2-for-44 drought on the power play by converting their first two opportunities both courtesy of Eric Manlow.

Manlow’s first goal was a deflection of a Niklas Kronwall cannon about 15 feet in front of the Barons’ net about halfway through the opening stanza. He then gave the Griffins a 2-1 lead when Darryl Bootland found him unmolested in front of the Cleveland cage with 5:59 remaining in the first period.

Cleveland knotted the score at two apiece with a power play tally by Tomas Plihal at 9:11 of the third period. He blistered a shot from the left wing circle inside the far post that evaded MacIntyre.

Six seconds after a Griffins power play ended, Derek Meech fired the game-winner from 65 feet away with just over five minutes remaining in the third period.

MacIntyre made several sparkling saves as the final seconds ticked off the game clock. Cleveland, already on a power play, pulled its goaltender for a two-skater advantage. The Barons peppered the rookie netminder with several shots from varying distances, but MacIntyre was up to the challenge in thwarting each attempt. He finished the night with 24 saves for his first win as a Griffin.

Nolan Schaefer made 30 saves in a losing effort.

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