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GRIFFINS SAIL BY ADMIRALS ON LATE GOALS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Mark Eaton’s goal with 4:31 remaining broke a 2-2 tie and lifted the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 4-2 win over the first-place Milwaukee Admirals on Friday at Van Andel Arena, their second home-ice victory against the defending champs in eight days.

Kip Miller added a pair of goals to help Joey MacDonald secure his franchise-record 56th win. MacDonald, who overcame a bout with the flu this week to log 26 saves, also assumed career leadership in minutes played (6009:42) tonight, adding to his club records for games played (107), shutouts (13) and saves (2,769).

The Griffins (26-25-1-1), who’ve moved within three points of fourth-place Houston in the West Division race, will complete a three-game homestand on Saturday against the San Antonio Rampage.

The Griffins broke a 0-for-27 drought on the power play by striking for the game’s first goal at 7:35 of the opening period. Miller collected the puck to the right of the goal and quickly stuffed it inside the post past Seamus Kotyk. Miller’s goal, the 42nd of his Griffins career, tied him with Ivan Ciernik and Mark Mowers for tenth on the franchise’s all-time list.

Milwaukee (35-17-3-4) used its own advantage to pull even during the final minute of the frame. Ryan Suter took a shot from the left side that Scottie Upshall tipped to the right of the goal, enabling Tony Hrkac to scoop the puck into a wide-open cage with 46 seconds remaining.

It took the Griffins just 28 seconds of the second period to regain their lead. Matt Ellis threw a shot on net from the right circle that Kotyk stopped, but Darryl Bootland fought through a check to crash the crease and jam the puck home.

Grand Rapids held the 2-1 lead until 7:07 remained in the third period. Timofei Shishkanov pounced on a loose puck at the top of the crease and roofed a backhand over MacDonald, who initially had made a pair of saves during an Admirals rush.

The Griffins fought back to seize the lead for good thanks to Eaton, the former Admiral. Just out of the penalty box, Peter Vandermeer slipped a pass to the defenseman, who skated to the right dot and beat Kotyk short-side at 15:29. Fourteen seconds later, Miller added his second of the night to claim sole possession of tenth place all-time on the Griffins’ goals list.

Kotyk finished with 29 saves but was unable to keep the Admirals’ season-high slide from reaching five games (0-3-1-1). Grand Rapids, meanwhile, improved to 3-2-0-0 this season versus Milwaukee.

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