GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – On the strength of a reborn power play and a perfect shootout performance, the Grand Rapids Griffins snapped the Milwaukee Admirals’ hex with a 3-2 win on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Grand Rapids had entered the night winless in its last six games overall and its last four contests against the Admirals. But the Griffins (34-26-6-5) received goals from Jonathan Ericsson, newcomer Scott Parse and Jamie Tardif in the shootout, while Stefan Liv stopped all three Milwaukee attempts to help increase his team’s lead for a playoff spot to three points over idle Peoria.
Former Griffin Sheldon Brookbank, the AHL’s top-scoring defenseman, scored the lone goal of the opening period. During a power play, John Vigilante set up below the goal line, found Brookbank streaking down the left side toward the net and fed him for an uncontested goal against Jimmy Howard at 14:36.
The onset of flu symptoms during intermission prevented Howard from answering the bell to start the second period, ushering Liv into the game. Midway through the frame, Parse, a Portage, Mich., native and Hobey Baker finalist making his pro debut, earned his first point to help the Griffins snap a 0-for-33 power play drought. He sent a pass into the right circle that Jeff Campbell drilled into the top of the cage at 10:01 to tie the score.
Grand Rapids again struck on its very next power play opportunity at the 13:44 mark. With the Griffins applying extended pressure in the Admirals’ zone, Eric Himelfarb jammed a rebound past Pekka Rinne for a 2-1 lead that they would carry into the third period.
An ill-advised Griffins penalty late in regulation proved costly, as Kim Staal crashed the net to pot a rebound past a fallen Liv from the right side with 3:46 remaining.
The contest progressed to overtime – the Admirals’ AHL-record 27th contest this season to extend past regulation time – and eventually to the shootout, where the Griffins earned just their second victory in their last 13 games (2-8-3-0) versus Milwaukee.
Grand Rapids, now 14-6-2-3 in its last 25 games, will travel to Hamilton on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. tilt. The Griffins and third-place Bulldogs will clash four times in the season’s final nine games.