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GRIFFINS RALLY TO SCHOOL DUCKS, 2-1

Grand Rapids, Mich. - In front of a student-dominated crowd of 5,515 in attendance for the team’s fourth annual matinee game on Tuesday, the Grand Rapids Griffins taught the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks a lesson in persistence, coming from behind in the third period to steal a 2-1 victory at Van Andel Arena.

Bryan Helmer and Tomas Kopecky accounted for the Griffins’ goals over the game’s final 13:40, and Joey MacDonald finished with 28 saves as the Griffins (8-3-1-0) won their third consecutive one-goal decision to give Danton Cole his record 100th win as the team’s head coach. The Ducks (5-8-0-0), meanwhile, suffered their sixth straight defeat.

The Griffins will complete their record nine-game homestand on Thursday, when the Chicago Wolves pay a visit at 7 p.m.

The Griffins faced a 1-0 deficit following a sluggish first period in which they were outshot by a 13-4 margin. From the right boards, Michael Holmqvist skated below the circle and sent a wrister that eluded MacDonald during a power play at the 4:50 mark.

Grand Rapids rebounded with a 12-10 advantage in shots during the second frame, but Holmqvist’s tally stood as the difference entering the final 20 minutes. Ilya Bryzgalov put in a solid period for the visitors, including the denial of a breakaway attempt by Eric Himelfarb four minutes in.

The Griffins entered the day having won just one of the last 30 games in which they trailed after two periods, but they tied the score during a 4-on-4 6:20 into the period, on Helmer’s blistering one-timer from the point. Kopecky then picked an opportune time to net his first of the season with 5:34 remaining, depositing his own rebound from the left side following a beautiful move.

Any chance the Ducks had to snap their losing skid was all but lost when Pierre Parenteau was whistled off on a holding call with 2:02 remaining. Bryzgalov, who finished with 25 saves, was pulled in favor of a fifth attacker with 42 seconds left, but Cincinnati could not generate a scoring chance.

The contest marked the seventh straight Griffins game decided by a single goal. Grand Rapids’ offense was hindered by the absence of leading scoring Jiri Hudler, who departed for the Czech Republic this morning to be with his ailing father. Hudler’s return to the lineup is uncertain.

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