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HALF-WAY HOME



SAN ANTONIO, Texas – One night after a monumental comeback win in Houston, the Grand Rapids Griffins avoided a letdown with a strong road performance in a 5-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage at SBC Center Saturday night.

Donald MacLean staked the Griffins out to a 1-0 lead with his team-best 21st goal of the season on a delayed penalty. The veteran forward fired a shot from the high slot off a soft pass from Eric Himelfarb on the left side at 7:46 of the first period. Valtteri Filppula extended his scoring streak to nine games with an assist on the play. The standout from Finland has registered a point in every game since his return from a mid-December call-up to the Detroit Red Wings – a blistering stretch second only to a 14-game run by Jiri Hudler to start the season.

The Rampage provided a charitable donation of power play time following a brutally excessive check-from-behind by David Cornacchia on Greg Amadio. The San Antonio defenseman was assessed a five-minute major after driving Amadio’s head into the corner glass – a hit from which the Griffins blue-liner was slow to recover.

The penalty carried over to the second frame, and the Griffins made the Rampage pay for their transgression. Nate DiCasmirro centered the puck from the right corner, where Darryl Bootland was ready and waiting to dent the net just 46 seconds into the period. Kent McDonell followed with a power play tally of his own on a scintillating unassisted effort at the blue line, riddling San Antonio net-minder David LeNeveu between the pads for a 3-0 Grand Rapids edge at 1:55.

Hudler pulled even with MacLean for the club lead in goals (21) by starting a break from his own blue-line with a pass across center to McDonell. Eric Manlow retrieved the rebound from McDonell’s shot, sending it cross-ice to a wide-open Hudler. The Czech left winger did not hesitate, extending the Griffins lead to 4-0.

San Antonio finally answered with a one-timer by Jakub Koreis on a fine pirouette pass from Pascal Rheaume at 17:34 of the second. The Rampage added a 5-on-3 marker at 6:03 of the third on a rebound tap-in by Steve Gainey to make it 4-2. Clay Wilson tattooed a point shot that beat LeNeveu glove-side to close the scoring at 5-2 for Grand Rapids.

At the season’s half-way point, the Griffins sport an impressive 26-11-1-2 mark, good for first place in the North Division by a five-point margin over the Manitoba Moose. Grand Rapids is 8-1-1-0 over its last ten games, and will return home for their longest home stand of the season with six straight games at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins host the archrival Chicago Wolves next Friday night at 7 p.m.

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