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THE RIVER RUNS DRY

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins made franchise history on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena, earning a record third consecutive home shutout in 3-0 fashion over the Peoria Rivermen.

Stefan Liv made 28 saves for his second straight shutout in friendly confines, including his 2-0 win against Hamilton on Dec. 30, while Matt Ellis scored twice to help extend the Griffins’ season-high winning streak to six games, tying for the fourth-longest run in franchise history.

Grand Rapids, which reached the season’s midpoint with a 19-15-4-2 record, will look to add to its home shutout streak of 183:49 on Friday when the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights visit at 7 p.m.

Peoria goaltender Curtis Sanford, assigned to the Rivermen earlier today after logging 12 games for the St. Louis Blues, yielded the game’s first goal just 3:57 into the opening period. Ellis took a feed from Scott Barney while darting down the slot and quickly sent a wrist shot into the top left corner of the net for his 13th goal of the season.

Ellis made it a 2-0 game at the 13:03 mark during a Rivermen power play, extending his franchise record for career shorthanded goals to 10. Off a pass from Matt Hussey, Ellis sprinted through the neutral zone and to the top of the left circle before unleashing a blast that snuck inside the right post.

The Griffins extended their cushion at 4:17 of the third period during a 4-on-4, when Darryl Bootland caromed a shot off Sanford’s left shoulder from the bottom of the right circle.

Midway through the frame, the Rivermen (21-14-1-2) squandered a gift of 1:24 in 5-on-3 power play time, thanks primarily to the stellar penalty killing of Ellis, Dan Smith and newly anointed AHL all-star Derek Meech. Peoria, which had converted 38.1% (8-of-21) of its power play opportunities in the season series, finished 0-for-10 on the night.

Liv did the rest, denying Ryan MacMurchy on a breakaway in the final minute to preserve the shutout. Sanford, who went 2-5-2 with a 2.93 GAA and a 0.897 save percentage during his NHL stint, took the loss on 21 saves.


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