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GRIFFINS LOOK FORWARD TO '05 AFTER 5-0 LOSS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A New Year’s Eve celebration that promised post-game fireworks for the fans produced none for the Grand Rapids Griffins during the game itself, as the Hamilton Bulldogs prolonged the home team’s recent woes with a 5-0 victory on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

The loss extended the Griffins’ winless streak to a franchise record-tying seven games (0-6-0-1) and marked the first time they’ve ever lost five consecutive home games in regulation.

The Griffins (18-13-1-1) will have a full week to right the ship before facing a rematch with the Bulldogs (13-15-4-2) next Friday, Jan. 7 in Hamilton. Faceoff at Copps Coliseum is set for 7:30 p.m.

Following a scoreless first period, Hamilton became the fifth straight visiting team to score the first goal of a game at Van Andel Arena. Just after the Griffins’ third power play of the night had expired, a flurry around Joey MacDonald’s net saw the puck kicked back out to the point. Raitis Ivanans collected the loose rubber, skated to the top of the left circle and unleashed a shot that found its way into the upper right corner of the net at 11:03 of the second period.

Shortly thereafter, the Bulldogs had ample opportunity to add to their lead during nearly three minutes of power play time, including 1:23 of a 5-on-3 advantage, but the Griffins’ second-ranked penalty killers held firm against Hamilton’s last-ranked power play unit. However, Hamilton finally capitalized on its fifth chance of the game, with Marc-Andre Thinel scoring with two seconds left in the advantage and 38.6 seconds remaining in the period to make it a 2-0 contest heading into the final frame.

The Griffins’ frustrations began to show late in the game, with a string of penalties enabling Hamilton to score consecutive 5-on-3 power play goals by Tomas Plekanec at 14:54 and Duncan Milroy at 16:06. Dan Focht added the final insult during yet another advantage with 1:09 remaining, giving the Bulldogs their fourth power play goal in 10 opportunities.

MacDonald deserved a better fate after allowing only one even-strength goal and making 20 saves, but he still suffered his sixth straight loss. Yann Danis registered his second shutout of the season for Hamilton, finishing with 29 stops.

The crowd of 9,420 was the Griffins’ second-largest of the season and their largest New Year’s Eve audience since 1998. Regardless, Grand Rapids fell to 2-6 all-time in its annual year-end home game.


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