GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 at Manitoba Moose 1 OT
April 5, 2017
WINNIPEG – Playing in his second professional game in North America, Axel Holmstrom netted his first goal in a Grand Rapids Griffins uniform 2:11 into overtime to clinch a 2-1 victory over the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday at the MTS Centre.
Holmstrom and Evgeny Svechnikov both registered a goal and an assist as the Griffins (44-22-1-4) snapped a season-high four-game pointless streak and moved one point above the Chicago Wolves in the Central Division standings with five games remaining. Grand Rapids returns to Van Andel Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m. for the first half of a home-and-home series against the Cleveland Monsters.
Chances were few and far between in the opening period, though the Griffins owned a convincing territorial advantage. Holmstrom came within inches of scoring 5:34 into the hockey game when he gained control of a loose puck in the slot and a fired a shot off the outside of the left post.
Matt Lorito nearly broke the scoreless tie with a pair of chances just past the nine-minute mark. After his initial effort from the right circle bounced off the catching glove of Jamie Phillips, the rebound fluttered high into the air and dropped to the ice for another point-blank opportunity that was juggled and covered by the Manitoba netminder.
Scott Kosmachuk started the scoring for Manitoba (26-36-5-5) 8:46 into the second when he gained the zone on the right wing and lifted a sharp-angle shot into the top right corner for his second goal in as many nights against Grand Rapids.
Svechnikov evened the score on the power play when he accepted a rinkwide pass from Holmstrom at the right circle and ripped a shot into the top right corner at the 15:18 mark for his 19th goal of the season. Aided by four power play opportunities – including a 5-on-3 lasting 56 seconds – the Griffins held a 22-7 advantage in shots in the middle frame, but the teams remained deadlocked after 40 minutes.
Following a scoreless third period in which Grand Rapids outshot Manitoba 9-7, the visitors opened the extra session with Matthew Ford, Kyle Criscuolo and Joe Hicketts while the Moose countered with Dan DeSalvo, Jimmy Lodge and Brenden Kichton. Manitoba’s best chance to capture two points arrived nearly 90 seconds in when DeSalvo walked into the high slot and launched a wrist shot off the left post.
The Griffins made no mistake with 2:49 remaining. Svechnikov gained control of a bouncing puck at the left circle and sent a pass to Holmstrom all alone in the slot for a shot that hit the right post and back bar before coming right back out. The referee to the left side of the net immediately signalled a goal and the call was confirmed after a brief review.
Grand Rapids finished 1-for-6 on the man advantage while Manitoba failed to convert on three opportunities. Jared Coreau blocked 20 shots for his 17th victory of the season as Phillips earned third-star honors with a 40-save performance.
Notes: The Griffins are 6-1 in games decided in overtime…Grand Rapids has a 10-1-0-2 record (0.846) when tied after two periods this season…The Griffins matched last season’s win total with their 44th victory of the campaign…Grand Rapids is 39-9-1-3 (0.788) when scoring on the power play and 7-2-0-1 (0.750) when posting 40 or more shots on goal...The Griffins finish 3-1 over Manitoba in the season series, outscoring the Moose 14-10.
Three Stars: 1. GR Holmstrom (overtime goal, assist); 2. GR Svechnikov (power play goal, assist); 3. MB Phillips (OTL, 40 saves)