Calder Cup Champions - 2013 & 2017
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Antlers on the Mantle

Nov 24, 2023
Written By: Dylan Rider
1st 2nd 3rd Final
Manitoba Moose 0 0 1 1
Grand Rapids Griffins 1 1 3 5

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5 vs. Manitoba Moose 1

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Michael Hutchinson’s 29-save performance helped lift the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-1 victory against the Manitoba Moose on their 23rd annual Teddy Bear Toss night on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

Leading the Griffins was Joel L’Esperance, who netted his first and second goal of the season in his 300th pro game. Taro Hirose joined L’Esperance in celebrating a milestone, as he tied Kip Miller for fourth place on the Griffins’ all-time assists list at 133 with a helper on Jonatan Berggren’s goal. The Griffins’ penalty kill shut down Manitoba’s #1 ranked powerplay in the victory, killing off all three man-advantages.

November 24, 2023  ·  3 Minutes

11-24-23 | Highlights | Manitoba Moose

The Griffins opened the scoring on their second shot of the game, as Tyler Spezia snapped a shot from the bottom of the left circle and past Colin Delia to take the 1-0 lead at 2:10. With the goal, the crowd erupted into a plush-filled frenzy and an estimated 3,600 teddy bears hit the ice. All stuffed animals collected in the flurry will be donated to the Billy Bear Hug Foundation. Spezia’s tally marked the quickest goal to be scored for the Griffins this season while also being the second time the Griffins have won the first frame in this campaign.

Over midway through the second period, L’Esperance stick-handled his way around Delia’s left pad in the crease to extend the Grand Rapids’ lead with 6:45 remaining in the middle frame. L’Esperance’s tally was his first of the year.

The Griffins’ uncontested scoring continued into the third period when Berggren sent a laser from the blueline for a power-play goal at 4:44. With under ten minutes to play, Hirose fired a bullet from the left faceoff circle for another Griffins power-play goal with 7:34 remaining. In the waning minutes of the contest, L’Esperance netted his second tally of the night from the low slot to make it a 5-0 game in favor of Grand Rapids at 17:11. Manitoba managed a measure of revenge with nine seconds left in the game, as Jeff Malott scored the only Moose goal of the night from the low slot for a 5-1 final. 

November 24, 2023  ·  4 Minutes

11-24-23 | Post-Game Interviews | Manitoba Moose

- Brogan Rafferty(0-3–3), Austin Czarnik(2-2–4) and Hirose (2-3–5) all extended their point streaks to three games.
- Alongside his extended point streak, Hirose scored his 50th pro goal.

Box Score
Manitoba 0 0 1 - 1
Grand Rapids 1 1 3 - 5

1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Spezia 3 (Johansson, Edvinsson), 2:10. Penalties-Didier Gr (tripping), 12:09; Viel Mb (holding the stick), 14:56.

2nd Period-2, Grand Rapids, L’Esperance 1 (Hanas, Kasper), 13:15. Penalties-Wallinder Gr (tripping), 3:42; Chibrikov Mb (tripping), 7:12; Kniazev Mb (interference), 9:47; L’Esperance Gr (hooking), 17:18.

3rd Period-3, Grand Rapids, Berggren 3 (Hirose, Edvinsson), 4:44 (PP). 4, Grand Rapids, Hirose 5 (Czarnik, Berggren), 12:26 (PP). 5, Grand Rapids, L’Esperance 2 (Kasper, Rafferty), 17:11. 6, Manitoba, Malott 5 (Chisholm), 19:51 (SH). Penalties-Kniazev Mb (tripping), 4:13; Viel Mb (roughing), 12:11; Reichel Mb (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:45; Sautner Mb (cross-checking), 18:45.

Shots on Goal-Manitoba 9-11-10-30. Grand Rapids 11-11-15-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Manitoba 0 / 3; Grand Rapids 2 / 6.
Goalies-Manitoba, Delia 4-5-0 (37 shots-32 saves). Grand Rapids, Hutchinson 3-4-0 (30 shots-29 saves).

Three Stars
1. GR Hutchinson (29 saves, W); 2. GR L’Esperance (two goals); 3. GR Hirose (goal, assist)

Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 5-7-1-1 (12 pts.) / Sun., Nov. 26 vs. Manitoba 5 p.m.
Manitoba: 6-8-0-0 (12 pts.) / Sun., Nov. 26 at Grand Rapids 5 p.m.

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo