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Hamilton Bulldogs 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5

Nov. 23, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Thanks to four unanswered goals during the third period, the Grand Rapids Griffins rolled to a 5-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins were unable to notch their third straight shutout of the Bulldogs this season, but they rode Tom McCollum’s 23 saves to their third victory over Hamilton this season and their fifth consecutive series win dating to the 2010-11 campaign.

Following tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day feast, the Griffins (7-9-1-0) will close out their season-high five-game homestand with a Friday-Sunday set against the Oklahoma City Barons. Game time Friday is set for 7 p.m.

A highlight-reel effort by defenseman Brian Lashoff gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. After the Bulldogs had cleared the puck, Lashoff chased it down at his blue line, sped up the right side, deftly maneuvered around a defender just inside the Hamilton zone and darted towards the net, snapping a shot through Robert Mayer’s five-hole at the 15:50 mark.

Hamilton (6-9-1-1) evened the score 9:50 into the second period, as Louis Leblanc sent a pass across the slot to Philip DeSimone, who one-timed the puck past McCollum from the left circle. That goal snapped the Bulldogs’ scoreless streak against the Griffins at 149:50 this season and 162:55 overall, dating back to their Feb. 27 meeting in Hamilton.

The visitors then grabbed a 2-1 advantage at 14:27 on a Brian Willsie shorthanded goal, the first allowed by Grand Rapids this season, giving the Bulldogs their first lead over the Griffins in a span of 189:08.

It didn’t last long.

Garnet Exelby pulled Grand Rapids back into a tie just 42 seconds into the third period, unleashing a cannon from the top of the left circle that banged off the crossbar on its way into the net.

Before the midpoint of the frame, the Griffins scored twice more to build a 4-2 cushion. Landon Ferraro lifted a sharp-angle shot over Mayer’s shoulder from the left side at 5:21, and Mitch Callahan connected on a slap shot from the right point that rang off the far post and in 2:35 later.

Francis Pare accounted for the final margin by scoring into an empty net with 7.7 seconds left.

McCollum, who earned his first win as a Griffin since Feb. 19 and his second since Nov. 14, 2010, now sports a solid 2.48 goals against average and 0.914 save percentage in three appearances this season. Mayer finished with 30 saves but fell to 1-4.

Notes: After the game, the Red Wings assigned defenseman Brendan Smith to the Griffins and recalled left wing Fabian Brunnstrom. Smith made his NHL debut with Detroit on Nov. 17 and has a pair of assists in three games for the Wings, while Brunnstrom has earned a goal and an assist in two appearances with Grand Rapids…The Griffins, who leap-frogged Hamilton into fourth place in the North Division, have earned three of their seven wins this season against the Bulldogs, whom they’ll play more than any other team this season (10 times).

Three Stars: 1. GR Ferraro (game-winning goal); 2. GR Pyett (two assists); 3. GR McCollum (W, 23 saves)

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