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SIMPLY MAC-NIFICENT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Donald MacLean’s second consecutive hat trick tied an AHL record, set a franchise mark, and sent the Grand Rapids Griffins on to their fifth straight win on Wednesday, a 6-3 triumph over the Iowa Stars at Van Andel Arena.

MacLean, who assumed the AHL goal-scoring lead with 27, became the league’s first player since Hartford’s John Tripp in 2002-03 to notch four hat tricks in one season. The Griffins, meanwhile, won for the 11th time in their last 13 games (11-1-1-0) to improve to 29-11-1-2 and increase their lead atop the North Division to six points over idle Manitoba. Grand Rapids will try to build upon its sparkling 16-2-1-2 home record when the Toronto Marlies visit this Friday and Saturday.

The Stars got the jump on the power play just 1:58 into the game, as Mathias Tjarnqvist took a pass out of the left corner and ripped a shot over Jimmy Howard’s glove from the hashmarks. Grand Rapids evened the score at the 12:43 mark when MacLean notched his 25th goal off a feed from Matt Ellis, streaking across the slot and outlasting Stars netminder Dan Ellis before sliding a shot inside the left post. Exactly three minutes later, MacLean set up in the right circle and one-timed a Jiri Hudler pass into the upper right corner of the net.

It was the Stars’ turn to answer at 1:07 of the middle period, with Tjarnqvist scoring his second of the night on a sharp-angle shot from low in the right circle. However, the Griffins would score the next two goals on similar plays to take a 4-2 lead. MacLean extended his franchise record by completing his fourth hat trick at 4:04, scoring unchallenged from the slot to account for each of his team’s last six goals. Kent McDonell then followed up with a goal from the same spot during a power play at 9:28, with MacLean earning his fourth point of the night and his 200th AHL assist on the play.

When Tjarnqvist notched his third of the contest at 10:28, it marked the Stars’ first-ever hat trick and just the second time in Grand Rapids history that both a Griffins player and an opposing player tallied hat tricks in the same game. Grand Rapids’ Greg Bullock and Michigan’s Marty Flichel traded tricks in a 7-5 Griffins win in Kalamazoo on Feb. 13, 1998.

The Griffins scored the only two goals of the third period. Tomas Kopecky converted a Darryl Bootland pass from the left side at 9:45, and Nate DiCasmirro scored into an empty cage with 19 seconds remaining.

MacLean’s 27 goals already equal or surpass the season-ending total for the Griffins’ leader from three of the last four seasons, and he is bidding to become the first player in the franchise’s 10 seasons to lead the league in goals.

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