GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5 at Milwaukee Admirals 1
April 15, 2017
MILWAUKEE – Behind Evgeny Svechnikov’s career-high four-point (1-3–4) performance and 36 saves from Eddie Pasquale, the Grand Rapids Griffins hit the 100-point plateau in their regular season finale with a 5-1 rout of the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
Following Chicago’s come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win versus Charlotte, the Griffins (47-23-1-5) finished their 21st regular season in second place in the Central Division standings and will face the Admirals (43-26-4-3) in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals. Grand Rapids and third-place Milwaukee will stage Game 1 at Van Andel Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. A full schedule with dates, times and locations can be viewed here
The Griffins converted on 2-of-5 opportunities on the man advantage and set a franchise record with a single-season power play efficiency of 24.4 percent, shattering the previous mark of 21.8 percent set by the 2005-06 squad. Grand Rapids’ 47th victory of the campaign is also a team-high since the AHL adopted a 76-game regular season schedule, beginning in the 2011-12 season.
Grand Rapids notched 100 points for the sixth time in franchise history and second within the confines of a 76-game calendar. Todd Nelson reached the century mark for the first time in his second season as the Griffins’ head coach and is headed to the Calder Cup playoffs for the sixth time in as many full seasons as an AHL bench boss.
Mitch Callahan started the scoring on a 5-on-3 power play with 4:14 to play in the opening period. On a tic-tac-toe sequence, Joe Hicketts sent a pass to Svechnikov at the right circle, who immediately fed the puck across to Callahan at the lower part of the left circle for a one-timer into an open net.
Milwaukee restored parity when Tyler Moy capitalized on Conor Allen’s defensive-zone turnover and fired a shot into the top right corner for his first professional goal with 52.7 ticks left in the first frame.
The visitors quickly recaptured the lead, as Tyler Bertuzzi blocked Filip Hronek’s point shot before sliding the rebound past the left pad of Jonas Gunnarsson with less than a second remaining in the first. A brief review confirmed the puck crossed the goalline before time expired.
Eric Tangradi gave Grand Rapids a two-goal cushion on the power play when he accepted a rinkwide pass from Bertuzzi at the right circle and buried a one-timer into an open cage at the 13:20 mark of the middle frame.
The Griffins put the game beyond any doubt with a pair of late insurance tallies. After serving a bench minor, Svechnikov came out of the box and was sprung on a breakaway by Tangradi, moving from forehand to backhand and sliding the puck along the ice between Gunnarsson’s pads at the 9:33 mark to become the fourth Grand Rapids skater to join the 20-goal club.
Colin Campbell wrapped up the scoring with 6:33 on the clock. After playing catch with Patrick McCarron at the points, Campbell ripped a one-timer off the left post and in as Grand Rapids captured its seventh win in 12 regular season meetings against the Admirals.
The drama did not end at the final horn, as the Griffins knew they would clinch the Central Division title with a Charlotte win at Chicago. Phil Di Giuseppe gave the Checkers a 3-1 lead with 12:34 left in regulation, but the Wolves stormed back with two goals 1:59 apart before Andrew Agozzino scored on the power play 3:41 into the extra session to dash Grand Rapids' hopes of an eighth divisional crown. A point was enough for Charlotte to clinch a Calder Cup playoff spot while Cleveland was eliminated, having lost 1-0 versus Manitoba on Friday.
Milwaukee finished 0-for-7 on the power play. Gunnarsson blocked 21 shots in a losing cause.
Notes: McCarron and Dennis Cholowski made their professional debuts on Saturday…Svechnikov became the fourth Grand Rapids skater to reach the 50-point mark this season…Kyle Criscuolo was the only Griffin to play in all 76 regular season contests.
Three Stars: 1. GR Svechnikov (goal, three assists); 2. GR Pasquale (W, 36 saves); 3. MIL Moy (goal)