Stockton Heat 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 SO
Feb. 10, 2018
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A 3-2 shootout loss to the Stockton Heat on Saturday at Van Andel Arena snapped the Griffins’ four-game overall and home winning streaks, but Grand Rapids still extended its season-high point run to nine games (7-0-0-2) as it prepares to embark on a crucial trip to Winnipeg next week.
The Griffins held a late 2-1 lead over the Heat before Tyler Wotherspoon forced overtime on a power play goal with 2:03 remaining in regulation, and Stockton prevailed 2-0 in the shootout. Grand Rapids is now 16-3-0-3 in its last 22 contests and 26-18-1-6 overall.
The Griffins will now hit the road for a pair of games next week against the conference-leading Manitoba Moose, a team that they trail by 11 points in the Central Division race and that they’ve defeated three straight times since Jan. 8. The Thursday-Saturday set will faceoff at 8 p.m. EST each night.
After a scoreless first period, Stockton (22-16-2-3) used a power play to grab the lead 19 seconds into the middle frame. Entering the Griffins’ zone on a 2-on-1 rush, Joseph Cramarossa centered a pass to Brett Findlay, who went to his backhand to slide the puck just inside Jared Coreau’s right post.
Birthday boy Eric Tangradi clanged a backhand off the right post 12 minutes into the period but got redemption less than 20 seconds later, thanks to the brilliant passing of Ben Street and Evgeny Svechnikov. Taking a stretch pass from Robbie Russo at the Stockton line, Street slipped a blind feed through a defender’s legs to Svechnikov, who then dropped a pass through another player’s wickets to Tangradi for a top-shelf tally from the left hashmarks at 12:16.
Grand Rapids seized the lead with a power play marker 1:58 later. Filip Hronek, whose 25 points place second among rookie AHL defensemen, snapped a shot from the top of the circles that Matthew Ford tipped past the glove of Jon Gillies for a 2-1 Griffins advantage.
With Grand Rapids clinging to that same margin in the waning minutes of the third, Stockton evened the score with its second power play tally of the night, as Wotherspoon found the right corner of the net with a wrist shot from the point at the 17:57 mark.
The Griffins had the best scoring chance in overtime when Matt Lorito was awarded a penalty shot after being slashed on a breakaway, but Gillies denied him to eventually force the shootout and snap Lorito’s seven-game point streak.
The shootout was all Stockton, as Andrew Mangiapane and Hunter Shinkaruk tallied for the visitors while Gillies turned aside tries by Dominic Turgeon and Hronek to secure the Heat’s win.
Coreau, now 11-2-3 in his last 16 outings, finished with 29 saves. Gillies countered with 25 stops.
Notes: The crowd of 10,234 was the Griffins’ fourth of more than 10,000 in their last five home games and their seventh in excess of 9,000 in their last 10 at Van Andel Arena…Lorito’s shootout attempt was just the third ever for the Griffins in overtime, including the postseason. Eric Himelfarb misfired on April 23, 2007 in a playoff game against Manitoba, and Doug Janik connected at Rochester on April 10, 2012.
Three Stars: 1. STK Wotherspoon (power play goal, assist); 2. GR Tangradi (goal); 3. STK Mangiapane (shootout winner)