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The Brave Little Toasters

Jan 27, 2024
Written By: Dylan Rider
1st 2nd 3rd Final
Belleville Senators 0 4 0 4
Grand Rapids Griffins 2 1 3 6

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 6 vs. Belleville Senators 4

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- In front of a sold-out crowd of 10,834 fans, the Grand Rapids Griffins tied their season-high win streak of five games in a 6-4 barnburner win over the Belleville Senators at Van Andel Arena on Saturday. 

12 Griffins collected a point in the victory, which included six different goalscorers. Jonatan Berggren's three-point night (1-2--3) extended his hot streak of 16 points in 11 games while Austin Czarnik's two-point contest (1-1--2) put him at 13 points (3-10--13) in his last 11 games. Sebastian Cossa, who entered the game in the third period, picked up the win tonight, which tied the team's season-high for a goaltender's win streak at three. The Griffins have now won four of their last five games with a comeback in the third period, which is exemplified by Grand Rapids outscoring its opponents 14-0 in the final frame in its last five contests. Following the game, Griffins players and staff partook in the Great Skate Winterfest, a 24-hour skating marathon at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

January 27, 2024  ·  5 Minutes

1-27-24 | Highlights | Belleville Senators

Just under five minutes into the opening frame, William Wallinder struck first for the Griffins, as he blasted the puck past Leevi Meriliainen from the left face-off dot to make it a 1-0 game at 4:32. Roughly ten minutes following Grand Rapids' last tally, Albert Johansson dragged the puck in on Merilainen and ripped a backhand shot from the right circle, which went above Merilainen’s left shoulder and into the net with 5:41 remaining in the first period.

The Griffins continued scoring in the opening minutes of the middle frame, as Tyler Spezia collected a rebound and found twine from the left circle at 2:57. Grand Rapids' third goal over roughly 23 minutes of play prompted Belleville to substitute Merilainen with Kevin Mandolese. After the swap, Angus Crookshank put an end to the Griffins’ shutout streak of 88:48 when he beat Michael Hutchinson for a power-play goal from the slot and a 3-1 contest with 11:12 remaining.

Belleville quickly added another tally after a turnover resulted in Josh Currie beating Hutchinson one-on-one from the crease at 10:41. The Senators then found their equalizer on a top-shelf shot from Matthew Highmore from the right circle to tie the game at 3-3 with 2:35 remaining in the second period. In the waning seconds of the second frame, an errant pass from Hutchinson while behind the net ended with a one-time blast for a Belleville goal, courtesy of Crookshank from the bottom of the left circle at 32 seconds.

To start the final period, Grand Rapids swapped Hutchinson with Cossa. Early in the frame, the Griffins were put on the man-advantage and tied the game back up, as Czarnik lit the lamp with a shot from the right point that beat Mandolese with 14:30 remaining. Under three minutes following the Griffins’ game-tying goal, Elmer Soderblom reclaimed the Grand Rapids lead with a bullet from the left circle at 8:22. 

With Mandolese pulled, Berggren directed a shot onto a Senator’s stick from behind the goal, which went into the net with a minute remaining. With Berggren's empty netter, the Griffins skated to their fifth straight victory and a weekend sweep of the Senators with a 6-4 win. 

January 27, 2024  ·  2 Minutes

1-27-24 | Post-Game Interviews | Belleville Senators

- Czarnik (3-5--8) and Berggren (7-6--13) both extended their point streaks to six games. 

Box Score
Belleville 0 4 0 - 4
Grand Rapids 2 1 3 - 6

1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Wallinder 3 (Stevens, Berggren), 4:32. 2, Grand Rapids, Johansson 4 (Shine, Czarnik), 14:19. Penalties-Mazur Gr (hooking), 0:32; Pilon Bel (hooking), 12:19; Lombardi Gr (holding), 13:51; Didier Gr (roughing), 17:07; Fizer Bel (cross-checking), 20:00.

2nd Period-3, Grand Rapids, Spezia 5 (Stevens, Rafferty), 2:57. 4, Belleville, Crookshank 12 (Pilon, Highmore), 8:48 (PP). 5, Belleville, Currie 7 (Highmore), 10:41. 6, Belleville, Highmore 6 (Crookshank, Larsson), 17:25. 7, Belleville, Crookshank 13 19:28. Penalties-Berggren Gr (slashing), 4:49; Soderblom Gr (hooking), 7:41; Heatherington Bel (roughing), 15:19; Spezia Gr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:19.

3rd Period-8, Grand Rapids, Czarnik 6 (Berggren, Edvinsson), 5:30 (PP). 9, Grand Rapids, Soderblom 5 (Aston-Reese, Tuomisto), 8:22. 10, Grand Rapids, Berggren 13 19:00 (EN). Penalties-Currie Bel (tripping), 5:02; Boucher Bel (elbowing), 6:16; Saulnier Bel (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:33; Shine Gr (interference), 9:33; Crookshank Bel (fighting), 19:00; Larsson Bel (unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct - abuse of officials, game misconduct - abuse of officials), 19:00; Sokolov Bel (roughing, misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:00; Didier Gr (roughing), 19:00; Edvinsson Gr (roughing, fighting), 19:00.

Shots on Goal-Belleville 8-7-11-26. Grand Rapids 9-16-10-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Belleville 1 / 5; Grand Rapids 1 / 4.
Goalies-Belleville, Merilainen 4-5-1 (13 shots-10 saves); Mandolese 6-7-2 (21 shots-19 saves). Grand Rapids, Hutchinson 9-8-2 (15 shots-11 saves); Cossa 9-7-3 (11 shots-11 saves).

Three Stars
1. GR Berggren (goal, two assists); 2. GR Czarnik (goal, assist); 3. GR Soderblom (goal)

Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 19-15-4-1 (43 pts.) / Fri., Feb. 2 at Rockford 8 p.m. EST
Belleville: 18-17-2-3 (41 pts.) / Fri., Feb. 2 at Syracuse 7 p.m.

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins