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6-2 LOSS ENDS GRIFFINS' PLAYOFF CHASE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The San Antonio Rampage rode five unanswered goals to a 6-2 win over the Griffins on Saturday at Van Andel Arena, snuffing out Grand Rapids’ hopes for earning a spot in the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Former Ferris State netminder Phil Osaer faced a Griffins-record 58 shots and set an opponent mark by making 56 saves, enabling the Rampage to overcome a whopping 58-23 disadvantage in shots. The Griffins (41-34-2-2), who will miss the postseason for only the second time in their nine-year history and the first time since 1999, will conclude their schedule at the Cincinnati Gardens on Sunday with a 5:05 p.m. start against the Mighty Ducks.

The Griffins started newly acquired goaltender Michael Ayers, who had spent most of his rookie year with ECHL Dayton but had shined in two games with Cincinnati (1-0-1, 1.45 GAA, 0.952%). He was welcomed just 8:39 into the contest by San Antonio’s Robb Palahnuk, who beat a defender down the left side and slipped a shot between Ayers and the left pipe.

Grand Rapids quickly responded during a power play at 10:23, as Kip Miller collected a rebound of Eric Manlow’s shot on the doorstep and easily beat Osaer. The goal was the 50th for Miller in 124 career games as a Griffin, making him just the sixth player in franchise history to hit that plateau.

Captain Blake Sloan gave Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead with 4:57 remaining in the frame, taking a pass from Eric Himelfarb during a rush and poking it between Osaer’s pads. The Rampage (27-44-3-5) got it back before the end of the period, when former Western Michigan star Vince Bellissimo threaded a shot past Ayers from below the left circle during a power play at 18:33.

Drew MacIntyre entered the game to start the second period, but a pair of defensive breakdowns resulted in a 4-2 San Antonio lead before the game’s midpoint. Rob Globke scored unassisted from in close at 5:45, and Ryan Jardine put the Griffins in a perilous hole with a shorthanded breakaway tally at the 9:42 mark.

Globke whipped his second of the frame past MacIntyre with 3:06 left, making it 3-0 San Antonio for the period despite Grand Rapids’ 21-7 advantage in shots. Anthony Stewart added the final insult 4:39 into the third period, scoring on a tap-in to give the visitors six goals on their first 17 shots.

While the Griffins’ loss was disheartening, their fate would otherwise still have been sealed by Cincinnati’s 2-1 win over Milwaukee tonight. A crowd of 10,537 witnessed the game, marking the Griffins’ largest crowd since opening night.

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