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WILY MACDONALD STOPS ROAD RUNNERS IN 4-1 WIN

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Manning the pipes for the third time in less than 48 hours, Joey MacDonald made 33 saves on Sunday to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to a critical 4-1 win over the Edmonton Road Runners at Van Andel Arena.

Coupled with Houston’s 2-0 loss at Manitoba this afternoon, the Griffins’ victory moved them within three points of the Aeros in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. Grand Rapids, which still has two games in hand on the Aeros, will play in Houston twice next weekend as part of a four-game, five-day road trip.

After allowing the Road Runners to take a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game, the Griffins (33-29-2-1) regrouped to take a 3-1 advantage into intermission, tying their season-high for goals in a period. Edmonton’s Mike Bishai blasted a shot past MacDonald’s glove from the left faceoff dot just 3:13 into the contest.

Grand Rapids took less than two minutes to net the equalizer. Battling a defender in front of the Edmonton net, Eric Manlow received a Matt Ellis pass from behind the goal, spun and whipped the puck through Tyler Moss at 4:56. Manlow’s team-leading 18th goal snapped Moss’ series shutout streak at 72:42.

Awarded a two-minute 5-on-3 power play midway through the frame, the Griffins grabbed the lead on Jeff Panzer’s first goal since joining the team on March 11. Panzer, camped out on Moss’ doorstep, re-directed a Kip Miller pass at 11:36.

Ellis increased the cushion to two goals in short order, equaling Kory Karlander’s six-year-old team record with his fourth shorthanded goal of the campaign. Blake Sloan found Ellis dashing down the left side with a long cross-ice pass, and from two strides inside the blueline, Ellis unleashed a rocket that sailed past Moss at 15:32.

Late in the second period, a flurry of penalties - including a five-minute major and game misconduct to Darryl Bootland - ultimately resulted in three minutes of unimpeded power play time for the Road Runners, but a stellar effort by MacDonald and the penalty killing unit kept the score unchanged heading into the final 20 minutes.

Eric Himelfarb added an empty-netter with 1:21 remaining in the third for the final margin.

MacDonald, who extended his franchise record with his 20th consecutive appearance, helped the Griffins improve to 5-2 this season when playing their third game in as many nights. Moss, the former Griffin, finished with 21 saves for the Road Runners (28-26-4-10), who completed their mammoth 12-game road swing with a 2-7-0-3 record.

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