Chris Note: When a reader, Jeremy B., offered to contribute as our Griffins "correspondent", as the NOHS authors live across the country and far away from Grand Rapids, we jumped. Hope you enjoy!
By Jeremy B.
Tomas Tatar scored twice, including the game-winner with 2:13 left, as the Griffins held off the Chicago Wolves 4-3 to take their seventh consecutive game and take over sole possession of first place in the Midwest. Let's take a look back at the preview I wrote up yesterday and see if the keys to victory mattered.
1. "Stop Brett Sterling." Sterling assisted on the goal that tied the game at three early in the third but other than that was pretty quiet. He was held to only two shots on goal and took a delay of game penalty. Verdict: success.
2. "Shoot early, shoot often." The Griffins scored the first period's only goal on a quick strike from Tomas Tatar (whose goal was celebrated by a downpour of teddy bears at Van Andel Arena). They didn't get too many shots on Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack in the first period, recording a total of seven in the frame. But as I mentioned in the preview, the Wolves had won only once this season when trailing after one period. Despite their rallies (they tied the game one, two, and three) the Grifins' late tally was enough. Verdict: didn't matter.
3. "Don't rely too much on Petr Mrazek." Grand Rapids goalie Mrazek got his early lead and eventually go the victory (his sixth straight) but he was a little shaky in this one, allowing three goals on 28 shots. Luckily, he never lost the lead, made a critical stop on a penalty shot in the second period, and contributed to the Wolves' 0-for-6 mark on the power play. Not his strongest effort, but a win nonetheless. Verdict: success.
4. "Keep up the balanced scoring." Yes, Tatar got two goals, but he wasn't the only contributor. Nine different Griffins got on the stat sheet tonight. Defenseman Chad Billins and winger Mitch Callahan both recorded their first goals of the season. Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith both recorded helpers. Louis-Marc Aubry assisted on Tatar's winner. Another balanced effort for the Griffins, and it's a big reason why they're in first place. Verdict: success.
Next game: The Griffins return to the ice tonight to take on the Peoria Rivermen (the Blues' AHL affiliate) in Peoria. Faceoff is at 8:00 PM EST. Check back later for the preview. Go Griffins!