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MATINEE MADNESS


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Curtis McElhinney made 37 saves and the Quad City Flames overcame an early deficit to defeat Grand Rapids 3-1 on Tuesday, in the Griffins’ seventh annual matinee game at Van Andel Arena.

A crowd of 7,525, including 5,400 elementary and high school students from across West Michigan, couldn’t help the Griffins get over the hump, as they fell to 0-6 at home and saw their overall winless streak stretch to six games (0-5-0-1) as well.

Grand Rapids (5-7-0-1) will put its paradoxically impressive 5-1-0-1 road record to the test this Thursday and Friday against the Manitoba Moose at the MTS Centre. Game time each night is 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Griffins came out strong during an entertaining but scoreless first period, out-shooting the Flames to the tune of 14-7, and their persistence finally paid off at 8:10 of the second with Darren Helm’s first professional goal. After Grand Rapids had several whacks at the puck while buzzing around the Quad City cage, McElhinney sprawled out in the crease in an attempt to cover up, but Helm pounced on the truant puck and was credited with the goal.

Controversy arose with 5:37 left in the period as the Flames evened the score at one goal apiece. Puck-handling at the top of the circles in the Grand Rapids zone, Garrett Stafford was tripped by Tomi Maki, who quickly corralled the loose puck and sniped a shot top-shelf on Jimmy Howard from the left circle.

The cascade of boos from the youthful crowd had barely subsided when Quad City took the lead just 1:38 later on Adam Pardy’s shot from the point, which caromed off the stick of a Griffins defenseman on its way into the net.

The Flames (5-7-1-2) needed only 10 seconds of the third period to increase their advantage to 3-1, with David Van der Gulik threading a shot past Howard’s glove from the left faceoff dot.

The Griffins could not pull closer despite out-shooting Quad City 11-8 for the third period and 38-32 for the game. Howard played a solid game, making 29 saves, but still saw his personal record fall to 0.500 at 3-3-1.

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