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OH HOLE-Y KNIGHTS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The AHL’s highest scoring offense put on a display of force that one of the league’s least-potent clubs couldn’t quite match on Wednesday, as the Grand Rapids Griffins earned their fifth straight win in 5-4 fashion over the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins (23-10-0-2) and Knights (13-14-1-7) each tallied three power play goals, but while Grand Rapids padded its North Division lead over Manitoba to five points, Omaha fell below 0.500 with its eighth loss in the last nine games.

Late arrivals were undoubtedly shocked upon taking their seats, as Grand Rapids held a 3-2 lead less than seven minutes into the contest. The Griffins scored on their first two shots and three of their first six tries against Brent Krahn, while the Knights connected on two of their first three attempts on Jimmy Howard. Former Michigan Wolverine David Moss got things started for Omaha 63 seconds in, scoring into an open cage after Carsen Germyn’s shot trickled through Howard.

The Griffins used two-man and one-man advantages to go up 2-1. Nine seconds into a 5-on-3, Jiri Hudler found Eric Manlow on the doorstep for an easy tap-in at 3:27, and a Bryan Helmer blast from the point snuck through traffic and inside the left post at 4:38. Manlow’s power play tally was his 10th of the season, equaling his production from 2004-05 and marking just the ninth double-digit haul in franchise history.

The Knights’ Tomi Maki threaded a shot into the upper right corner to even the score at 5:59, but after Valtteri Filppula forced a turnover behind the Omaha net, Tomas Kopecky skated out and solved Krahn from point-blank range at 6:52.

The game settled down over the next 20 minutes until Kyle Quincey’s 50-footer slipped through Krahn at 6:25 of the second, spelling the end of his night in favor of Curtis McElhinney. Krahn stopped just eight of the 12 shots sent his way. McElhinney, who finished with 27 saves in relief, was unable to get out of the period without further damage, as Donald MacLean notched his team-high 18th goal on the power play during a scramble with 60 seconds remaining.

Omaha’s Warren Peters made it closer by scoring on the power play at 10:33 of the third. A match penalty on Brantt Myhres for a nasty hit on Darryl Bootland along the boards – the final incident in a hard-hitting contest – then gave the Griffins a five-minute power play, but they were unable to convert the opportunity. That failure made things interesting when Mark Giordano scored during an advantage at 16:44, but the Griffins withstood Omaha’s final flurry to claim the win.

Grand Rapids will complete its homestand by hosting Hamilton on Friday and Chicago on Saturday.

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