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GRIFFINS WIN ANOTHER NAIL-BITER, 3-2

Grand Rapids, Mich. - Blake Sloan’s point-blank goal with 9:20 remaining in the third period lifted the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-2 victory over the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.

After fighting for the puck in the right corner, Eric Himelfarb sent a pass toward the slot to Sloan, who hammered a shot past San Antonio’s Travis Scott to ignite the crowd of 8,084. The Griffins (7-3-1-0) later withstood the Rampage’s 6-on-5 flurry during the final two minutes to notch their second one-goal victory in as many nights.

The Griffins, who’ve played just four games in the last 14 days, will begin a stretch of four games in five days on Tuesday, when they host the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks for their fourth annual matinee game. Faceoff at Van Andel Arena is set for noon.

The Griffins scored on their second and third shots of the night to take a seemingly comfortable lead before the game was three minutes old. Just 2:27 into the contest, Grand Rapids broke a 1-for-30 drought on the power play when Eric Manlow’s shot from the right point found its way through traffic and past Scott.

Twenty-eight seconds later, Ryan Barnes collected a pass from Kory Karlander outside the crease and beat Scott from the left side, momentarily sending the Rampage netminder to the bench in favor of Patrick DesRochers. After being spelled for 2:25, Scott reassumed his position between the pipes and the Rampage settled down, allowing only two harmless shots over the remainder of the period.

San Antonio (6-6-2-0) got on the scoreboard at the 5:18 mark of the second period, with just the second power play goal allowed by Grand Rapids in a span of 36 shorthanded situations. After a hard-angle shot by Filip Novak, Gregory Campbell pounced on the loose puck as it sat on the goal line inside the left post. The goal broke a shutout streak of 133:00 by both Joey MacDonald and the Griffins that dated to the first period of last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Houston.

The Rampage made it two power play tallies in as many tries at 17:36 of the frame, as former Griffin Joel Kwiatkowski unleashed a cannon from the left point. MacDonald got a piece of the puck, but it fluttered behind him into the open cage to knot the score heading to the final period.

MacDonald made 26 stops to improve to 7-3-0 for Grand Rapids, which witnessed its sixth straight game decided by a single goal. Scott made 18 stops in the loss.

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