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GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 at Charlotte Checkers 4

Jan. 15, 2012

– After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Grand Rapids Griffins fought back to tie the game, but ultimately dropped a 4-2 decision to the Charlotte Checkers in their first-ever visit to the Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Willie Coetzee and Joakim Andersson tallied the goals for a Grand Rapids squad that created chances throughout a game in which the puck just wouldn’t fall the team’s way. Joey MacDonald stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced, but it was Mike Murphy who stole the show with 31 saves to keep Grand Rapids at bay.

The Griffins will have an opportunity to rectify their latest setback on Tuesday at 7 p.m., as they remain in Charlotte to face off with the Checkers for a third time this season.

Charlotte (22-14-2-2) was first to get on the board at 11:28 of the opening period. Justin Soryal deflected Michal Jordan’s shot from the left point through MacDonald’s pads for his third goal this season.

A handful of chances came and went for Grand Rapids (15-15-4-3) before the game sprang to life midway through the second. Trevor Parkes found himself overmatched in a scrap with journeyman Chris Murray after the Charlotte defenseman caught the Griffins rookie with a high stick.

On the ensuing power play MacDonald was hit with a slashing call before Travis Ehrhardt committed a holding penalty just 20 seconds later to hand Charlotte a 17 second, four-on-three man advantage. The Checkers power play made use of the extra ice, working the puck around before Bobby Sanguinetti’s blast rebounded to Zac Dalpe, who buried a snap shot from the right face-off circle for his eighth tally of the year at 13:48.

With the end of the period looming and trailing by two, the Griffins got right back into the contest through Coetzee’s ninth strike this season. He was set up on a nifty feed from Parkes, who brought the puck into the offensive zone at speed and zipped a pass to Coetzee in the slot where the Griffins sophomore slipped a shot through the wickets of Murphy at 18:39.

The Griffins then pulled even at 11:48 of the third. Chris Conner darted in from the right point and feathered a pass through two Checkers defensemen to Andersson, who smashed a bullet into the net from close range to record his 10th goal of the season.

However, it did not take Charlotte long to regain a 3-2 lead. Rasmus Rissanen was afforded too much space as he motored in to flick a backhand shot over MacDonald’s right shoulder from a sharp angle for his first professional goal at 13:26.

Although the Griffins continued to swarm around the Checkers net, they could not crack Murphy a third time, and Chris Terry iced the game on an empty-net goal with 43 seconds remaining.

Notes: Ehrhardt and Chris Minard made their respective return from long-term injury; Ehrhardt from a shoulder injury he suffered against Rochester on Oct. 16 and Minard from a concussion that had kept him out all season.
Three Stars: 1. CHA Rissanen (game-winning goal); 2. CHA Murphy (31 saves, win); 3. CHA Dalpe (goal).

Griffins Game Rewind
AHLLive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Coetzee goal   Andersson scores   Rissanen winner
Official Game Report

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