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STAR-STRUCK



DES MOINES, Iowa – In the first-ever appearance by a Grand Rapids professional hockey team in the state of Iowa, the Griffins came up just short in their attempt to come back yet again from an early 0-2 deficit – falling in back-to-back games for the first time this season with a 3-2 loss to the Iowa Stars Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Stars struck first on the power play at 11:59 of the opening period, as a Mario Scalzo slapper from the high-slot was tipped in front by center Toby Petersen. Vojtech Polak added an assist on the play, as Iowa capitalized on one of their four power play chances in the frame. The Stars registered a lopsided 16-5 shot advantage in taking a 1-0 lead at the break.

After consecutive minors were assessed to Stars forwards Kyle Brodziak and David Oliver, Grand Rapids was unable to cash in on 1:17 of 5-on-3 time early in the second. The Griffins recovered from a sluggish start to earn four turns of their own on the power play in the period, evening the opportunities at six aside through forty minutes.

With Iowa barreling in on an odd-man rush, a Petersen shot from the top of the left circle yielded an inviting rebound – which Jamie Johnson easily cleaned up for the put-away to give the Stars a 2-0 cushion at 7:51 of the middle stanza.

Just over a minute and a half later, and ten seconds into a subsequent Griffins’ power play, Bryan Helmer fired a patented frozen rope from the point that found its way past Stars goaltender Mike Smith. Donald MacLean and Matt Ellis were credited with helpers on the tally, as Grand Rapids pulled to within one mid-way through the contest.

Aggressive on the forecheck, Darryl Bootland was able to dig a puck loose along the boards and send it over to Valtteri Filppula. The young center forced his way inside to throw a shot on net, generating a rebound for a well-positioned MacLean to finish off and balance the ledger at two-all at the second intermission.

Floating in all alone on the left wing, Iowa’s Janos Vas sized up Griffins goaltender Joey MacDonald and beat him top-shelf glove-side for the eventual game-winner with 17:46 remaining. It was the left-winger’s first goal of the season.

The Griffins continue their western swing with a tilt in Nebraska against the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights on Thursday evening. Face-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at Omaha Civic Auditorium.

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