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Bad Things Come In Three

May 22, 2024
Written By: Dylan Rider
1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Milwaukee Admirals 0 2 0 1 3
Grand Rapids Griffins 0 1 1 0 2

Calder Cup Playoffs - Central Division Finals - Game 3 - Milwaukee Leads Best-of-Five Series, 2-1

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 vs. Milwaukee Admirals 3 (OT)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Egor Afanasyev scored on a deflection 4:40 into overtime on Wednesday to finish off a hat trick and lift the Milwaukee Admirals to a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 3 of the Central Division Finals at Van Andel Arena.

Now trailing 2-1 in this best-of-five series, the Griffins can right their ship in a must-win Game 4 at home this Friday at 7 p.m., which would push the series back to Milwaukee for a decisive Game 5 on Sunday.

May 22, 2024  ·  2 Minutes

5-22-24 | Central Division Finals Game 3 Highlights | Milwaukee Admirals

Following a scoreless first period in which they outshot Grand Rapids 11-4, the Admirals tallied the first goal of the game when Afanasyev collected his own rebound in the bottom of the right circle and lasered the puck inside the far post of Sebastian Cossa at 2:50 of the second.

Later in the frame, Austin Czarnik’s feed met a lone William Wallinder in the left circle, and the defenseman walked in before ripping a shot off Yaroslav Askarov’s blocker for a 1-1 contest with 8:41 remaining in the stanza. 

Afanasyev netted his second goal of the period with a right-circle blast during a 4-on-3 advantage at 15:14 to put Milwaukee back on top. 

In the final minute of the period, the Griffins believed the puck had crossed the line after several jam attempts by Carter Mazur and Czarnik at the left post, but the referees huddled before signaling no-goal without a video review. 

Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Griffins pulled even during a 4-on-4 with 14:35 remaining. Czarnik sped down the slot and put Wallinder’s feed wide of the net, but he collected the carom off the end boards and from the right goal line banked a shot off Askarov’s right skate and across the line for a goal that eventually forced overtime. Grand Rapids held a 15-7 shot advantage over the final 20 minutes of regulation.

Grand Rapids, 2-0 in overtime against Rockford in the division semis, yielded Afanasyev’s third goal of the night when the winger’s shot from the right circle deflected off a Griffin defender's leg in the slot and past Cossa. Afanasyev became the first Grand Rapids opponent to record three goals in a playoff game since Utica's Sven Baertschi in 2015, as well as the only Griffins playoff foe to account for all of his team’s goals with a hat trick.

May 22, 2024  ·  21 Minutes

5 - 22 -24 | Post Game Interviews | Milwaukee Admirals

Before tonight the Griffins had won their last five overtime games in the playoffs, including their last three at Van Andel Arena and two against Milwaukee. 
- The Griffins, who have been pushed to the brink of elimination for the first time during this postseason, are 14-15 all time when faced with a must-win playoff game, including 10-7 at home.
- In three previous attempts, the only time the Griffins have rallied to win a best-of-five series after trailing 2-1 was during the 2015 Western Conference Quarterfinals against Toronto, when they became just the 11th team in AHL history to rally from a 2-0 deficit to win in five games.  

Box Score
Milwaukee 0 2 0 1 - 3
Grand Rapids 0 1 1 0 - 2

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-McKeown Mil (tripping), 1:06; Rafferty Gr (slashing), 12:36; Johansson Gr (hooking), 14:23.

2nd Period-1, Milwaukee, Afanasyev 2 (Weatherby, Ufko), 2:50. 2, Grand Rapids, Wallinder 1 (Czarnik, Berggren), 11:19. 3, Milwaukee, Afanasyev 3 (Wiesblatt, Kemell), 15:14 (PP). Penalties-Czarnik Gr (hooking), 8:23; L’Heureux Mil (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:15; Tomasino Mil (holding), 10:15; Rafferty Gr (tripping), 10:38; Svechkov Mil (roughing), 14:05; Luff Gr (roughing), 14:05; Mazur Gr (tripping), 14:11.

3rd Period-4, Grand Rapids, Czarnik 4 (Wallinder, Johansson), 5:25. Penalties-L’Heureux Mil (diving/embellishment), 4:18; Berggren Gr (cross-checking), 4:18.

OT Period-5, Milwaukee, Afanasyev 4 (Kemell, Ufko), 4:40. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Milwaukee 11-10-7-2-30. Grand Rapids 4-7-15-1-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Milwaukee 1 / 5; Grand Rapids 0 / 2.
Goalies-Milwaukee, Askarov 2-2 (27 shots-25 saves). Grand Rapids, Cossa 4-3 (30 shots-27 saves).

Three Stars
1. MIL Afanasyev (hat-trick); 2. MIL Askarov (W, 25 saves); 3. GR Wallinder (goal, assist)

Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 4-3 / Central Division Finals Game 4 / Wed., May 24 vs. Milwaukee 7 p.m. 
Milwaukee: 5-3 / Central Division Finals Game 4 / Wed., May 24 at Grand Rapids 6 p.m. CDT

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo