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A SWEET NIGHT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Donald MacLean’s five-point evening powered the Grand Rapids Griffins to their third consecutive win on Thursday, a 6-4 decision over the Hershey Bears at Van Andel Arena. His second hat trick of the season and two assists enabled the Griffins (21-10-0-2) to reclaim first place in the North Division from Manitoba and hand the Bears – now 0-5 all time versus Grand Rapids – just their third regulation loss in their last 23 games.

The Griffins struck first for the third straight game on MacLean’s 14th goal of the campaign at 3:39. He took a cross-crease pass from Nate DiCasmirro and solved Frederic Cassivi from low in the left circle.

Hershey (19-6-2-4) looked to have evened the score against Jimmy Howard at 11:06, but the goal was negated due to a goaltender interference penalty on Joey Tenute. Adding insult to Bears injury, the Griffins needed just 18 seconds during the ensuing power play to build a two-goal cushion, as Eric Manlow crashed the net to tap a nifty Kent McDonell pass behind Cassivi.

The Bears received an early Christmas present at 5:32 that pulled them within a goal. A shot by Tenute clanged off iron, dropped straight down and slid left along the goal line without crossing it. The referee gave no signal and the goal judge did not turn on the red light, but the Bears were nonetheless awarded the goal to snap Howard’s shutout streak at 83:21. Grand Rapids’ power play proficiency resulted in a 3-1 advantage with 2:31 left in the frame, as MacLean tallied his second of the night by banging home a Manlow pass from point-blank range. That heralded the end of the night for Cassivi, who gave way to Kirk Daubenspeck after stopping just six of nine Griffins shots.

The teams traded goals early in the second period. Clay Wilson tallied his second power play goal in two nights with a 55-foot blast at 5:40, but Eric Fehr snuck one past Howard during a 4-on-4 only 48 seconds later to make it 4-2. The same bang-bang tradeoff took place early in the third frame, only in opposite order. Hershey’s Boyd Kane scooped his own rebound top-shelf over Howard from the right side at 2:23, only to see Jeff Nelson score on the other end 27 ticks later. Nelson’s 136th point as a Griffin tied him with Kip Miller and Glen Metropolit for fourth place all time on the club.

Hershey’s Mike Green made it interesting by scoring from the left circle with 5:45 remaining, but simultaneous minors to the Bears resulted in a 5-on-3 power play goal for MacLean at 17:52. He became only the second player in franchise history to net two hat tricks in one season (Kevin Miller, 1999-00) and tied Jiri Hudler for the team lead with 16 goals.

Grand Rapids will continue its homestand by entertaining the Cleveland Barons on Friday at 7 p.m.


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