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KOPEY-CABANA



OMAHA, Neb. – The Grand Rapids Griffins endured a wild roller coaster ride at the Civic Auditorium Thursday night, withstanding a three-goal second period barrage en route to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.

Young guns Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler combined to assist on the Griffins first goal, as Darryl Bootland extended his point streak to four games with his sixth goal of the season. Filppula sent the puck down low on the right side for Hudler, setting up a nice drop pass for a Bootland wrist shot that eluded Brent Krahn at 4:09 of the first.

The game took an apparent turn for the worst as the Griffins went on the power play at the 11:01 mark of the second period. Center Warren Peters single-handedly stung the Griffins with two tallies in the frame over a span of less than two minutes – the first coming on the penalty kill with help from David Moss for Omaha’s second short-handed goal of the season. Peters struck again unassisted moments after the end of the Grand Rapids man-advantage to quickly tip the scales in favor of the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, 2-1.

Omaha continued their assault on goaltender Drew MacIntyre with Cam Severson’s power play conversion, marking the Knights’ third goal in four minutes to make it a 3-1 Grand Rapids deficit with 4:25 remaining in the second.

The Griffins fought back, continuing their third period dominance this season with a brilliant comeback effort. Just 29 seconds apart, Donald MacLean exploded for back-to-back strikes to even the game swiftly and suddenly with 10:48 left. Team captain Matt Ellis logged assists on both goals to help the Griffins secure a point in the standings and force overtime. Grand Rapids has outscored its opponents by a 39-15 margin in the final stanza on the year.

No winner emerged in the extra session, forcing a shootout – the Griffins’ fifth of the season. Severson and Filppula exchanged goals over the first five rounds, before Tomas Kopecky drove home the dagger in a sudden-death eighth round. Grand Rapids improved to 3-2 in the shootout format on the year with the win.

The Griffins snapped a two-game winless streak, their longest drought of the season, climbing to 16-4-0-2 and maintaining a one-point advantage over Manitoba for first place in the North Division. Grand Rapids wraps up a road trip consisting of three games in four nights with a Friday night battle against the Peoria Rivermen. Start time is 8:30 ET.


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