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MACINTYRE SHINES AS GRIFFINS SHOOT DUCKS, 2-1

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – Two goaltenders with a combined five games of AHL experience put on veteran-like performances Sunday at Van Andel Arena, and the result was a second shootout decision between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in a span of five days. As on Wednesday in Anaheim, the Griffins prevailed in the extra session, this time by a 2-1 count.

Drew MacIntyre made 26 saves to help the Griffins earn their eighth win in the last 10 games and improve to 13-5-1-0. Mike Ayers countered by stopping 30 of 31 for the Ducks, but it wasn’t enough as they dropped to 7-11-0-2 with their 11th loss in 13 outings.

The Griffins, who stand two points behind first-place Milwaukee in the West Division race, will get their first shot at the Admirals this Friday, when they travel to the west side of Lake Michigan for an 8 p.m. start at the Bradley Center.

Ayers, a first-year backstop playing only his second AHL game, stymied the Griffins for nearly half the contest before they took the upper hand on their 20th shot. During a Grand Rapids power play, Todd Robinson flipped the puck out to the point to Derek Meech, who beat Ayers’ right glove with a 55-foot laser at the 10:14 mark of the second period.

The Ducks had a prime opportunity to solve the Griffins’ own young netminder with just over five minutes remaining in the frame, but an uncovered Stanislav Chistov rang a shot off the crossbar behind MacIntyre.

The visitors hindered their cause early in the third period, when defenseman Kurtis Foster was whistled off on a five-minute major for high-sticking Darryl Bootland at 5:51. Grand Rapids was unable to capitalize, however, and it would cost the Griffins in the final minute of regulation.

With 33 seconds left and Ayers on the bench for an extra attacker, Michael Holmqvist spoiled the shutout bid when his pass from deep in the left corner deflected off Travis Richards’ stick and past MacIntyre. Neither that play, nor Joffrey Lupul’s shootout goal on the Ducks’ first attempt, seemed to fluster MacIntyre, who rebounded to deny the final four Cincinnati tries.

At the other end, Eric Himelfarb and Todd Robinson scored in the second and fourth shootout rounds, as the weary but victorious Griffins completed their fourth game in five nights (3-1-0-0) and their eighth game in the last 13 days (6-2-0-0).

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