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MONSTERS SLAIN IN SHOOTOUT


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday maintained their status as the AHL’s only perfect team past regulation time, thanks to a 4-3 shootout triumph over the Lake Erie Monsters at Van Andel Arena.

Evan McGrath and Tomas Tatar scored in rounds five and six of the shootout, while Thomas McCollum was justly rewarded with the victory after stopping a career-high 40 shots and denying five of Lake Erie’s six shootout attempts, helping the Griffins tie a league high with their fourth win of the season when trailing after two periods.

The Griffins (16-9-0-0) claimed their third straight win and improved to 4-0 this season in games that extend into overtime. They’ll complete a five-game homestand on Saturday by hosting the Milwaukee Admirals at 8 p.m.

Grand Rapids grabbed the early lead 4:42 into the contest, as the rebound of Andy Delmore’s shot bounced off a crashing Jan Mursak and into the Lake Erie net, sparking a briefly spirited but ultimately fruitless protest by Monsters netminder Tyler Weiman.

Lake Erie (8-15-0-3) netted the equalizer at the 11:10 mark. After a pair of Griffins were unable to corral or clear a bouncing puck in the slot, Brock Bradford whipped a shot past McCollum for his fifth goal in just four games against Grand Rapids this season. Bradford has scored only three goals in his other 20 AHL contests.

En route to outshooting the Griffins 17-6 in the second period, the Monsters went ahead 2-1 at the 18:39 mark. McCollum made a fine left pad save on T.J. Hensick, but Ryan Stoa was waiting to the right of the cage to pot a shot off the netminder’s skate.

Grand Rapids answered with a pair of goals midway through the third to retake the lead at 3-2. Jeremy Williams tipped home Doug Janik’s shot from the point at 10:38, before Francis Pare banked a backhand off Weiman’s back from behind the net 1:53 later.

Not to be outdone, the Monsters responded with a tying tally to cap off a flurry around the Griffins’ cage, as Derek Peltier’s shot from the high slot found the back of the net with just 2:12 remaining in regulation.

After a scoreless overtime, the first four shooters for each side failed to light the lamp. A beautiful McGrath deke-and-score was followed by Stoa’s do-or-die goal to close out round five, while a goal by Tatar preceded McCollum’s game-securing stop on Brandon Yip.

Weiman finished with 27 saves in the shootout loss.

Three Stars: 1. GR Pare (goal); 2. LE Peltier (goal, assist); 3. GR McCollum (SOW, 40 saves)
 

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