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GRIFFINS FALL ONE SHY OF CHICAGO

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The strange trend in the series pitting the Grand Rapids Griffins (17-7-1-0) against the Chicago Wolves (14-8-2-1) continued when the Wolves skated off with a 3-2 win on Saturday night in front of 7,550 fans at Van Andel Arena. The home team has yet to win in the series this season. Including the 2004 playoffs and the 2003-04 regular season, Chicago has won its last seven visits to West Michigan.

NASCAR Rookie of the Year, Kasey Kahne signed nearly 2,000 autographs for fans in the banquet room.

Chicago sped out to an early lead when Ben Simon jammed the rebound of J.P. Vigier’s shot past a sprawled Joey MacDonald 15 seconds into the contest.

Grand Rapids evened the score at 1-1 with a power play tally at 4:36 of the opening frame. Darryl Bootland, while screening Chicago’s netminder Kari Lehtonen, deflected Bryan Helmer’s blast from the right point past Lehtonen’s outstretched right leg inside the far post.

In the second period, after the Griffins were unable to capitalize on a power play, the Wolves stormed down the ice. Kip Brennan pounded a rebound past MacDonald at 16:15 of the second period to open a 2-1 lead.

Chicago opened a 3-1 lead when Vigier patiently stickhandled around a Griffins defender and MacDonald before sliding the puck into the open net at 4:15 of the third period.

With MacDonald on the bench for an extra attacker, the Griffins pulled within one goal when Eric Manlow fired the rebound of Todd Robinson’s shot past Lehtonen with 12 seconds remaining. For Robinson, the assist extends his point streak to a team-high eight games. He has amassed 10 points during the streak (3-7—10).

MacDonald finished with 19 saves while Lehtonen turned aside 38 shots.

The Griffins hope to build on their 9-1-0-0 road record with games in Utah on Wednesday and Friday nights. Grand Rapids will return home on Saturday to host the Cleveland Barons at 8 p.m.

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