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BULLDOGS NIP GRIFFINS, 2-1

Hamilton Bulldogs 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 1

Feb. 4, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Another tremendous performance between the pipes by Jordan Pearce on Friday was unable to give the Grand Rapids Griffins their first three-game winning streak of the season, as the North Division-leading Hamilton Bulldogs rallied with goals late in the second and third periods for a 2-1 victory at Van Andel Arena.

Pearce made 33 saves while limiting the opposition to two goals for the seventh time in his last eight starts, but he was trumped by Curtis Sanford, the AHL’s top-ranked goaltender, who stopped 24-of-25 to snap the Griffins’ three-game point streak (2-0-0-1).

Grand Rapids (22-22-1-5) will get a shot at another first-place team on Saturday when the Milwaukee Admirals pay a 7 p.m. visit to Van Andel Arena.

Adam Keefe capitalized on a misplay of the puck along the left boards to give the Griffins the only goal of the opening period. After Doug Janik’s pass into the zone was coughed up by a Hamilton defenseman, Keefe grabbed the puck in the circle, swooped in on Sanford and surprised the netminder with a quick shot that went top shelf at the 15:03 mark.

The Griffins maintained that 1-0 lead until just 1:39 remained in the second period, when the Bulldogs (28-15-1-4) finally solved Pearce on a tic-tac-toe play that culminated in Ryan Russell’s backdoor goal on Hamilton’s 24th shot of the night. Grand Rapids was outshot by a hefty 16-4 margin during the middle frame.

With 5:25 remaining in the third and the Griffins scrambling in their own end after a turnover, Ryan White ripped a shot over Pearce from the right side to give Hamilton the upper hand. The Bulldogs had a great chance to expand their advantage less than a minute later, when Aaron Palushaj was awarded a penalty shot during a breakaway even though Janik’s diving effort cleanly knocked the puck away. Justice eventually prevailed during Palushaj’s attempt when the puck rolled harmlessly off his stick without a shot on Pearce, but the Griffins could not put the equalizer past Sanford despite several chances during the frantic final minutes.

Notes: The Griffins, whose record fell back to break-even with the loss, have not been more than one game above or below 0.500 since Nov. 19 (8-6-0-3)…Defenseman Sergei Kolosov suffered a suspected MCL tear in his left knee during the second period.

Three Stars: 1. HAM Sanford (W, 24 saves); 2. HAM White (game-winning goal); 3. GR Pearce (L, 33 saves)
 

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