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11/25/2011 9:06 PM -

Oklahoma City Barons 5 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4

Nov. 25, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In a physical contest that featured 102 penalty minutes, the Oklahoma City Barons survived a pair of late goals by the Grand Rapids Griffins to take a 5-4 victory on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

Busy referee Shaun Davis doled out three game misconducts, six fighting majors and additional majors for spearing and boarding, as penalties overshadowed the resiliency of a Griffins team that twice rallied from a goal down before nearly clawing back from a three-goal deficit in the final six minutes.

The Griffins (7-10-1-0) will conclude their season-high five-game homestand with a 5 p.m. Sunday rematch against the Barons (13-5-0-1), who first must travel to Rockford for a Saturday meeting with the IceHogs.

The teams exchanged three goals within a four-minute span of the opening period. Oklahoma City’s Triston Grant got things started 4:25 into the frame, taking Tanner House’s pass out of the left corner and slapping the puck behind Tom McCollum from the doorstep.

The Griffins capitalized during a power play at 7:26. Gustav Nyquist ripped a shot from the high slot that sailed past Yann Danis’ glove into the right corner of the net, sparking a cascade of stuffed animals from the stands as part of the Griffins’ annual Teddy Bear Toss. The estimated 1,000 toys collected will be donated to Hug-A-Bears of Kent County. 

The deadlock lasted only 59 seconds, though, as Gilbert Brule found a rebound of Teemu Hartikainen’s shot at the right post and slammed it home to put the Barons back on top at 2-1.

Grand Rapids again pulled even 7:39 into the second period, when Chris Conner threaded a pass from the right circle through the slot to a crashing Joakim Andersson for a pretty backdoor goal.

An incident with 5:19 left in the frame resulted in Garnet Exelby being assessed 27 minutes in penalties – two for high-sticking, five for spearing, and 10 each for game misconducts for spearing and abuse of officials – and the Barons receiving five minutes of power play time. Oklahoma City connected just over a minute into its advantage, with AHL goal-scoring leader Philippe Cornet lifting his 13th of the season over McCollum from close range at 15:48, but the Griffins’ penalty killers did their job the rest of the way to limit the damage.

The chippy play continued with seven seconds left in the period, when Tyler Pitlick checked Brendan Smith hard into the boards, drawing a five-minute boarding major, an ejection and the quick retribution of Landon Ferraro, who pummeled Pitlick in defense of his teammate.

Early in the third, in the waning moments of the ensuing 4-on-4 power play, Logan Pyett’s try for the equalizer hit the right post. The Barons immediately took the puck up the ice in transition and made it a 4-2 contest when Hartikainen slipped a shot beneath McCollum at the 1:44 mark. After Grand Rapids was unable to score during the remaining three minutes of Pitlick’s major, Curtis Hamilton increased Oklahoma City’s lead to three by potting his first pro goal off a feed from Mark Arcobello with exactly 11 minutes remaining.

Grand Rapids refused to go quietly, however. Conner registered his third point of the evening and cut the Griffins’ deficit back to two during a power play at 14:14, sneaking a top-shelf goal past Danis from the bottom of the right circle. Jamie Johnson then made it 5-4 by tipping Doug Janik’s blast from the point with 1:41 showing on the clock, but the Griffins could not put a fifth puck past Danis with McCollum on the bench in favor of an extra attacker in the final minute.

Danis improved to 9-4 with his 26-save effort, while McCollum registered the loss despite 28 stops.

Three Stars: 1. OKC Hartikainen (goal, assist); 2. GR Nyquist (power play goal, two assists); 3. OKC Hamilton (game-winning goal, assist)

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