GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 at Abbotsford Heat 1 OT
Jan. 7, 2012
ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia – Brian Lashoff scored in the dying moments of overtime to give the Grand Rapids Griffins a 2-1 victory at the Abbotsford Sports & Entertainment Centre and a sweep of their weekend series with the Abbotsford Heat on Saturday.
The victory extends Grand Rapids’ season-best point streak to six games (3-0-3-0) and gives the team sole possession of third place in the North Division standings, two behind the second-place Rochester Americans’ 38 points.
Tom McCollum turned aside 31 of 32 shots and set a new career-high with his first five-game winning streak for the Griffins (15-13-4-2). Two goals once again soured first star Danny Taylor’s night, as the Heat netminder was pulled on Friday after two early goals and took the loss tonight after making 40 saves.
Despite an active first period that saw Grand Rapids outshoot Abbotsford (22-11-2-0) 16-14, the teams entered the first intermission separated by only Akim Aliu’s short-range effort. Just a minute and 25 seconds into the contest, Aliu popped home the rebound from Gaelan Patterson’s drive for his second goal of the season.
There were far fewer shots taken by both teams in the second, but the goaltenders were up to the task when the rubber did get through. McCollum in particular stood tall, making three point-blank saves on former Griffin Krys Kolanos, who put up 10 points (5-5—10) in the three previous contests between the clubs.
Late in the period, the Griffins pulled even on Garnet Exelby’s third goal of the year. Jamie Johnson entered the offensive zone at speed, hit the brakes and dumped off a pass to the Griffins captain, who unleashed a forty-foot missile that found the upper-right corner of the cage at 18:44. Francis Pare also picked up an assist on the play, setting a new team high with assists in six straight games and tying Johnson’s season-best six-game point streak (Oct. 29-Nov. 11).
A chippy third period did not offer many quality chances to either side. The physical play did spill over into the overtime period however, as Doug Janik and Kolanos were assessed penalties that left each team with only three skaters for the final minute and 47 seconds of the contest.
With room to roam, the open ice benefitted the Griffins’ quick skaters, and it was Johnson again who collapsed the Heat defense with a quick rush. He left the puck for Tomas Tatar who dangled through the crease before finding Lashoff at the backdoor with only 61 seconds remaining to give the Griffins the 2-1 decision.
Next week, the Griffins will host the Houston Aeros at 7 p.m. on Wednesday before the Texas Stars pay a visit to Van Andel Arena for a Friday contest that is also scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Notes: Two Griffins attained appearance milestones for the club this evening: Greg Amadio skated in his 200th game for Grand Rapids and Brent Raedeke his 100th.
Three Stars: 1. ABB Taylor (40 saves, L); 2. GR Lashoff (game-winning goal); 3. GR Pare (assist)