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DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Griffins could not have picked a better time to play their best hockey of the season.

Grand Rapids completed a weekend sweep of the AHL’s top team on Saturday at Van Andel Arena, earning a 4-1 win over the Rochester Americans on the heels of Friday’s 4-2 triumph. The Griffins (10-10-2-2), who’ve clawed back to the 0.500 mark by going 4-1-0-1 in their last six games, handed the Amerks (16-4-1-0) their first consecutive losses of the season and became the only team to beat them twice thus far.

Jimmy Howard, who is 4-0-0-1 in his last five decisions, was masterful between the Griffins’ pipes, finishing with 28 saves and yielding only to a puck that redirected off of one of his defenseman’s skates.

After playing six games in the last nine nights, Grand Rapids will enjoy several days of rest before hosting the Toronto Marlies on Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.

Darryl Bootland lit the lamp for the fifth time in the last six games just 1:16 into the contest to give Grand Rapids the lead. Following sustained pressure around the Amerks’ net, Kip Miller sent a feed out front to Bootland, who popped a shot over Adam Dennis from the doorstep. The assist marked the 1,100th point of Miller’s pro career, while Bootland tied a personal high with a three-game goal-scoring streak. He’s notched a goal in five of six games for the first time in his career.

Fresh off his re-assignment from the Edmonton Oilers, Danny Syvret made it a 2-0 game during a delayed penalty at 10:09, sailing a shot high into the net from above the circles.

The Griffins’ offensive surge continued in the second period thanks to the deft playmaking of Eric Himelfarb, who dropped a nifty pass between his legs to Brendan Brooks in the high slot. Brooks fired a blast that Dennis turned aside, but he chased down his own rebound and converted from the left hashmarks at 2:34 for the three-goal advantage.

Rochester got on the board through no credit of its own with 14:19 remaining in the third, when Mark Mancari’s centering pass from the right corner hit Jon Insana’s skate in the slot and redirected past Howard. But the netminder was perfect for the duration of the final frame, turning aside 15 shots, and Himelfarb added a shorthanded empty-netter at 18:49.

Each team went scoreless on its lone power play opportunity. Dennis ended the night with 21 saves.

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