Grand Rapids Griffins 8 at Chicago Wolves 5
Oct. 5, 2019
ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Grand Rapids Griffins opened up the regular season with an 8-5 victory against the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night at Allstate Arena. Grand Rapids’ offense was on full display as the Griffins scored eight goals in a season opener for only the second time in franchise history (Oct. 4, 2013 at ROC).
Matthew Ford led the Griffins with a career-high-tying four-point (2-2—4) night as seven Griffins total tailed multi-point games. Grand Rapids (1-0-0-0) travels back to Van Andel Arena to host Milwaukee in their home opener on Friday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.
Both teams started hot scoring a goal apiece in the first six minutes. Griffins goaltender Calvin Pickard would be tested in the first two minutes, however it would be Grand Rapids who would strike first. Evgeny Svechnikovscored the team’s first goal of the season 3:48 into the game.
The Wolves responded scoring a goal of their own at the 5:28 mark. Gage Quinney tied the game with a power play goal after his wrist shot sailed past Pickard.
The game would not be tied for very long as the Griffins regained the lead with 11:51 remaining in the first period. Ford scored his first goal of the night on a power play after he deflected a shot from Svechnikov into the back of the net.
The Griffins started the season 2-for-2 on the power play as they made it 3-1 with just 2:21 remaining in the first period. Michael Rasmussen wired a wrist shot from close range that found the net off of a Turner Elson feed.
Chicago cut its deficit to one with a goal at 2:39 in the second period. Lucas Elvenes tapped in a shot that found his stick after bouncing around the crease. Ben Jones took the initial shot and was awarded the assist.
Grand Rapids extended its lead back to two goals with 10:59 left in the second period. Chris Terry, the team’s leading scorer from last season, received a pass from Rasmussen and took a slap shot just outside the crease to score his first goal of the season. Things would become more physical and chippy for the rest of the period as the Griffins held a 4-2 advantage at the time.
The game would continue to sway back and forth as Chicago netted its third goal of the night with 3:20 left in the period. Jaycob Megna took a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that was deflected by Patrick Brown and found its way over the line. The second period ended 4-3 in favor of Grand Rapids.
Goals continued to flow in for the Griffins as they scored their fifth of the night 1:58 into the third period. Oliwer Kaski, making his North American debut, secured a pass from Terry and ripped a slap shot just inside the blue line and the puck sped past Chicago netminder Oscar Dansk to put Grand Rapids up 5-3.
Nine seconds later, Ford found Ryan Kuffner for a slap shot from the right side that found the back of the net. Nine seconds between goals was the fastest by the Griffins since Feb. 26, 2014 when Teemu Pulkkinen notched two goals in a nine-second span.
The Wolves would not shy away as they scored their fourth goal of the night at the 3:41 mark in the period. Quinney found Tye McGinn in the center of the Griffins zone and he would do the rest narrowing the score line to 6-4.
Things would start to get interesting as the Griffins gave up a power play goal with 9:31 remaining in the game. Elvenes found Curtis McKenzie who ripped a shot off the crossbar, gather his own rebound just outside the crease and tap in his first goal of the season.
After seeing their lead cut to just one, the Griffins responded with a power play goal of their own at the 11:22 mark in the third. Ford smashed a shot toward the net and Givani Smith would be in the right place to deflect the puck past Dansk to improve the Griffins’ lead to 7-5.
With a power play opportunity at 15:32, the Wolves pulled their goaltender. It was the Griffins who would capitalize however as Ford scored a shorthanded empty net goal with 3:19 remaining.
Pickard earned his first win as a Griffin behind 35 saves and Dansk finished with 18 saves. Grand Rapids was 3-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Notes: Gustav Lindstrom, Kaski, Gregor MacLeod, Kuffner, Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno all made their AHL debuts…Grand Rapids improve to 14-7-2-1 all-time in season openers.
Three Stars: 1. GR Ford (2 goals, 2 assists) 2. CHI Elvenes (1 goal, 3 assists) 3. GR Terry (1 goal, 2 assists)
Photo by: Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves