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ADMIRALS POWER PAST GRIFFINS, 3-2

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – “Groundhog Day” might not officially arrive until Wednesday, but unfortunate events keep occurring in an all-too-familiar fashion for the Grand Rapids Griffins, who fell 3-2 to the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.

The loss dropped the Griffins to 3-13-0-1 in their last 17 overall and 1-8-0-0 in their last nine at home, with six of those defeats within friendly confines having been suffered by a frustrating one-goal margin.

Grand Rapids (21-20-1-1), which remains tied for fourth place in the West Division, now embarks on a four-game road swing against three of the top five teams in the AHL, a gauntlet that begins Monday with an 8:30 p.m. start against the Manitoba Moose at the MTS Centre.

Faced with toppling the division leaders and defending Calder Cup champions, the Griffins fell behind by a 2-0 count for the third straight game, the 12th time in their last 17 outings and the seventh time in their last eight home games. Milwaukee scored the lone goal of the first period, with Simon Gamache converting from just outside the crease at 9:47. For Gamache, the third-leading scorer in the AHL, the power play tally marked his 20th goal of the season.

The Admirals made it 2-0 during another advantage 5:03 into the middle frame. Joey MacDonald seemed to have control of a rebound to the left of the goal, but Scottie Upshall managed to pop the puck into the top of the cage.

Grand Rapids answered with its first goal less than a minute later, when Brett Lebda took advantage of a Peter Vandermeer screen to float a 55-foot wrister past Brian Finley at 5:52.

Milwaukee (29-13-2-2) scored its third power play goal during a goal-mouth scramble at 16:21, as Darren Haydar scored an easy backdoor tally on MacDonald. However, the Griffins once again quickly cut the deficit back to one, on a beautiful shot by Eric Himelfarb that sailed over Finley’s shoulder from the top of the left circle at 17:14.

The Griffins continued applying the pressure during the third period but could not pull even, despite enjoying a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters for the final 1:20 after pulling MacDonald upon an Admirals penalty.

MacDonald suffered the loss despite 27 saves, while Finley made 32 stops for the win. The Griffins were unable to approach the Admirals’ 3-for-7 proficiency on the power play, failing on all eight of their opportunities.

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