Taro'd and Feathered
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GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3 vs. Colorado Eagles 2
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Thanks to two third-period goals by Taro Hirose and 40 saves from Michael Hutchinson, the Grand Rapids Griffins rallied to defeat the Colorado Eagles 3-2 on Friday before a boisterous crowd of more than 10,000 fans at Van Andel Arena, giving Dan Watson the victory in his first game as the Griffins' head coach.
Grand Rapids prevailed in its inaugural meeting with Colorado to make Watson the first Griffins head coach since Mike Stothers in 2007 to win his debut.
10-13-23 | Highlights | Colorado Eagles
Despite being outshot 13-2 to begin the first period, the Griffins struck first when Czarnik scored from below the left circle at 13:18. Simon Edvinsson had the second assist on Czarnik's goal, putting the defenseman at 50 helpers for his pro career. Roughly three minutes later, Peter Holland popped a shot from the bottom of the right circle over Hutchinson's left shoulder to tie the game at 16:30. Grand Rapids finished the first period being outshot 18-4.
An interference penalty against Grand Rapids midway through the second gave Colorado a power play, and Jack Ahcan put a shot past Hutchinson's blocker from the doorstep for a 2-1 lead at the 11:07 mark.
To begin the third period, Hirose took a pass from Albert Johansson at the Colorado blue line, skated in alone on Trent Miner and scored five-hole to tie the game at 2-2 just seven seconds in. Czarnik also earned an assist for the 200th of his pro career. Hirose's game-winner came with 8:25 remaining, when he scored off a rebound from the bottom of the right circle for his second goal of the frame.
In the waning minutes, with Miner pulled for an extra Colorado attacker, Hutchinson made a miraculous diving save to rob Brad Hunt with 1:37 remaining and preserve Grand Rapids' lead, and the Griffins held on to vanquish their Mile High foe.
Grand Rapids will host a rematch against the Eagles at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
- Grand Rapids debuted Watson's all-new assistant coaching staff, consisting of Steph Julien, former Griffins captain Brian Lashoff, and goaltending coach Roope Koistinen.
- The Griffins won their home opener for the sixth time in eight years.
10 -13 -23 | Post Game Interviews | Colorado Eagles
Colorado 1 1 0 - 2
Grand Rapids 1 0 2 - 3
1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Czarnik 1 (Hirose, Edvinsson), 13:18. 2, Colorado, Holland 1 (Ivan), 16:30. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-3, Colorado, Ahcan 1 (Olausson, Hunt), 11:07 (PP). Penalties-served by Hanas Gr (bench minor - too many men), 2:21; L’Esperance Gr (interference), 10:42; Shine Gr (cross-checking), 15:07; Olausson Col (roughing), 18:47; Edvinsson Gr (roughing), 18:47.
3rd Period-4, Grand Rapids, Hirose 1 (Johansson, Czarnik), 0:07. 5, Grand Rapids, Hirose 2 (Berggren, Soderblom), 11:35 (PP). Penalties-Kero Col (tripping), 6:22; Olausson Col (high-sticking), 10:32; Kasper Gr (interference), 13:20.
Shots on Goal-Colorado 18-14-10-42. Grand Rapids 4-9-12-25.
Power Play Opportunities-Colorado 1 / 4; Grand Rapids 1 / 2.
Goalies-Colorado, Miner 0-1-0 (25 shots-22 saves). Grand Rapids, Hutchinson 1-0-0 (42 shots-40 saves).
1. GR Hirose (two goals, assist); 2. GR Hutchinson (W, 40 saves); 3. GR Czarnik (goal, assist)
Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 1-0-0-0 (2 pts.) / Sat., Oct. 14 vs. Colorado 7 p.m.
Colorado: 0-1-0-0 (0 pts.) / Sat., Oct. 14 at Grand Rapids 5 p.m MDT
Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins