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50 FOR BIG MAC

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Grand Rapids Griffins (18-7-1-0) gained sole possession of the top spot in the Western Conference with a 4-2 win over the Utah Grizzlies (6-18-0-2) on Wednesday night at The “E” Center.

With two assists, Todd Robinson extended his point streak to nine games. He has amassed 12 points (3-9—12) during the streak. With an empty net goal, Eric Manlow pushed his goal streak to five games and his point streak to six outings. Manlow’s goal streak is one game shy of the franchise record held by Kip Miller (2000-01) and Pavol Demitra (1996-97).

In the first period, the Griffins sprinted out to a 3-0 lead.

Eric Himelfarb opened the scoring when he received Peter Vandermeer’s centering pass and fired a shot over 2004 AHL All-Star David LeNeveu’s glove at 6:52 of the first period.

Four minutes later, Blake Sloan wristed a shot past LeNeveu from 30 feet out. The Griffins broke through the zone on a three-on-two breakaway. Both defensemen skated to their goaltender, allowing Todd Robinson to slide a pass to Sloan for a clear shot on the cage.

At 13:23, Niklas Kronwall marched down Utah’s slot, tangled with a defenseman and backhanded a shot on net while falling to the ice. The shot eluded LeNeveu, giving Grand Rapids a 3-0 cushion.

The Grizzlies battled back in the second period with two markers to pull within 3-2.

Peter White notched Utah’s initial tally at 8:42 of the middle frame. Utah pulled within one goal at 13:16 of the second period with a power play tally by Fredrik Sjostrom. Matthew Spiller teed up a shot from the blue line. Sjostrom redirected Spiller’s blast past Joey MacDonald.

Manlow secured the win with a goal into an empty net to give the Griffins a 4-2 lead with 1:15 remaining in the third period.

MacDonald made 30 saves, several of the spectacular variety, for his 50th win as a Griffin. LeNeveu stopped 20 shots in a losing effort.

The Griffins will face Utah on Friday night in West Valley City before hosting the Cleveland Barons on Saturday at 8 p.m.

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