GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Led by a pair of Cory Emmerton goals, the Grand Rapids Griffins capped off the first perfect six-game homestand in franchise history with a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Wolves on Friday at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins (7-4-0-0) rallied from a 2-0 deficit for the third time in their six home wins, scoring four unanswered goals to chase former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace before holding on to continue their best-ever start on home ice. After posting their longest winning streaks both overall and at home since February 2007, they’ll hit the road for the first time since Oct. 18 on Sunday when they travel to Cleveland to battle the Lake Erie Monsters at 3 p.m.
Chicago put the home team on its heels by scoring twice in the opening 6:50. Just 21 seconds in, Brett Sterling redirected Scott Lehman’s slapper past Daniel Larsson on the game’s first shot, before Andrew Kozek single-handedly made it a 2-0 contest by forcing a turnover along the right boards, collecting the puck and beating Larsson from high in the circle.
Following a near-miss by Doug Janik that rang off the right post, the Griffins got on the board at the 7:46 mark. Evan McGrath gathered the puck at the left point and darted down the slot before centering a feed to Jamie Tardif, who slipped a shot just inside Legace’s right post.
Emmerton tied the game early in the second period with his first goal of the season. He sped down the right side, swooped around his defender and put a puck on net that bounced off a couple Chicago bodies on the doorstep before finding its way across the line at 3:36. Emmerton then gave the Griffins their first lead of the night in a more conventional manner at 7:15. Legace easily stopped Francis Pare’s sharp-angle shot from the right corner, but Emmerton crashed the net to jam the rebound home.
The Griffins’ fourth straight goal, a Jeremy Williams cannon from the top of the right circle at 8:07 on the team’s 14th shot of the night, sent Legace packing in favor of another former Griffin, Drew MacIntyre. Soon after, John Pohl broke Grand Rapids’ string and pulled Chicago within one with 6:32 left in the frame, toe-dragging at the right hashmarks and waiting for a screen before launching a shot past Larsson.
A harmless looking shot by Jan Mursak from the high slot managed to find MacIntyre’s five hole at 17:21 of the third period to make it 5-3, a goal that proved crucial after Chicago’s Joey Crabb scored with an extra attacker on the ice with just 20.2 seconds left.
Larsson earned his fourth straight win by making 28 saves, while MacIntyre suffered an undeserved loss despite stopping eight of the nine shots that came his way. The Wolves (5-7-0-1) lost in regulation for just the second time in seven games since replacing their coaching staff.
Three Stars: 1. GR Emmerton (two goals); 2. CHI Kozek (unassisted goal); 3. GR Tardif (goal)