Rockford IceHogs 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 OT
Dec. 14, 2018
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins and Rockford IceHogs needed overtime to decide matters for a second straight Friday, and the IceHogs validated their 3-2 win last week in Illinois with an identical tally at Van Andel Arena to snap the Griffins’ four-game winning streak on home ice.
Luke Johnson scored his second goal of the game during a power play 2:31 into the extra session, roofing a shot from the high slot to end Rockford’s five-game skid at Van Andel Arena and give the visitors just their second victory in their last 11 trips to West Michigan.
The Griffins, who nonetheless rallied from a two-goal deficit to earn a point and extend their home streak to 5-0-1-1, will look to break a four-game overall winless streak (0-2-2-0) when they host the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The IceHogs drew first blood only 3:03 into the contest. Jordan Schroeder entered the Griffins’ zone with speed along the left boards and sent a feed into the slot to Johnson, whose redirection slipped past the blocker of Patrik Rybar.
Rockford netminder Collin Delia, whose 0.930 save percentage is tied for the best in the league, was forced to make several difficult saves in the ensuing minutes to preserve his team’s lead, including a denial of a Dominik Shine backhand from close range after the forward had slipped through the IceHogs’ defense at the blue line and walked in alone.
Some deft passing in the Griffins’ zone led to a power play goal for Rockford during its first opportunity at the 13:48 mark, as Victor Ejdsell found Jacob Nilsson wide open at the right faceoff dot for a one-timer that found the top of the net. The IceHogs’ second goal came on just their fourth shot, and they didn’t register another one for the duration of the period.
Delia dodged a bullet three minutes before intermission when Givani Smith’s wrister rang off the crossbar, and he made his 14th and final stop of the frame by stoning Axel Holmstrom with his blocker in the final minute.
The Griffins (14-9-2-2) finally broke through Delia on their 20th shot, during a power play midway through the second period. Chris Terry tallied his league-leading 17th goal of the season and No. 200 for his AHL career on a slap shot from the right point, making it a 2-1 contest at 10:37. Bridgeport’s Chris Bourque (242) and former Griffin Chris Mueller (200) of Toronto are the only other active AHL players to have reached the 200-goal milestone.
Turner Elson tied the score by notching his third shorthanded goal of the season with six seconds left in the period, avoiding a sliding IceHogs defender to finish off a 2-on-1 with Colin Campbell. Elson, who has accounted for all of the Griffins’ undermanned goals this season, became the 21st player in team history to log three or more shorties in a season and now stands just two behind the single-season franchise record set by both Matt Ellis and Eric Himelfarb in 2006-07.
After a scoreless third period in which the teams combined for only 10 shots, the game progressed to overtime, which saw Joe Hicketts take a slashing penalty 1:44 into an extended opening shift in which he and Elson could not get off the ice. Rockford took full advantage to improve its record to 12-10-1-4.
Delia finished with 26 saves for the IceHogs, who went 2-for-4 on the power play and allowed the Griffins to capitalize on one of three attempts. Rybar made 19 stops.
Three Stars: 1. RFD Johnson (two goals); 2. RFD Delia (W, 26 saves); 3. GR Elson (shorthanded goal)
Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins