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California Dreamin'

Dec 17, 2019
Written By: Andrew Streitel


Dec. 17, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Taro Hirose scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Grand Rapids Griffins were able to edge out a 3-2 victory over the San Diego Gulls on Tuesday night at Pechanga Arena.

The Griffins (12-14-1-2) never trailed in the contest but saw their one goal advantage disappear in the third period when Daniel Sprong netted his seventh of the season. The Gulls (10-11-1-1) failed to find the game-winner in overtime and Jimmy Howard saved all three attempts during the shootout.

The Griffins will continue their season-high six-game road trip in Iowa for a weekend set against the Wild starting on Friday at 8 p.m. EST.

Howard, who made his season debut for Grand Rapids, was tested early in the game when Alex Dostie and Simon Benoit rattled off consecutive shots from the left circle, but Howard stayed true to keep the contest scoreless.

Eric Tangradi tallied his third goal of the season on a power play to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead with 45 seconds left in the period. Dennis Cholowski sent a puck from the left point toward the net and Tangradi redirected the pass inside the left goalpost, beating the skate of Anthony Stolarz.

Grand Rapids started the second frame on a power play, which did not go as planned. Antoine Morand and the Gulls skated out on a 3-on-2 break and he backhanded a puck through the Griffins’ zone to Alex Broadhurst. Broadhurst’s shot from just outside the crease sailed over the stick of Howard to tie the game on a shorthanded goal 49 seconds in.

The Griffins responded well as they controlled much of the period, outshooting San Diego 18-9. Grand Rapids regained its lead on a power play goal at the 7:18 mark.

From the right boards, Joe Veleno found Evgeny Svechnikov skating through the center of the Gulls’ zone. Svechnikov rifled a wrist shot from between the circles into the top right corner for his fifth goal of the year.

San Diego battled its way back into the game once more when Sprong got the better of Howard with 13:27 remaining in the third period. Josh Mahura forced a turnover in the neutral zone and found Sprong down the left wing. Sprong’s initial shot from the left boards was saved by Howard, but the rebound went right back to Sprong and his shot from the doorstep snuck inside the goalpost to tie the game 2-2.

The teams continued to exchange blows and Turner Elson had a chance to be the hero with 1:48 left. Elson received the puck in the middle of the Gulls’ zone and fired a wrist shot, but Stolarz was able to make an acrobatic glove save to force the game into overtime.

San Diego got the better of the Griffins in overtime as they held a 4-2 shot advantage. However, it was Grand Rapids who had the best chance to win the contest 45 seconds in. Hirose smashed a slap shot between the circles that beat the glove of Stolarz, but rattled off the post and out of play.

Howard came up big for the Griffins during the shootout as he turned away all three chances for the Gulls. Hirose’s goal during the second round turned out to be the decider as Grand Rapids took a 3-2 victory.

Notes: Grand Rapids outshot San Diego 43-32…The Griffins’ penalty kill went 5-for-5 and now have killed off 21 straight penalties…The power play for Grand Rapids went 2-for-4…The Griffins have points in four of their last five games (3-1-0-1) and are 3-1 in their season-high six-game road trip.

Three Stars: 1. GR Howard (W, 30 saves); 2. SD Stolarz (40 saves); 3. GR Svechnikov (goal)

Photo by San Diego Gulls