Chicago Wolves 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2
April 10, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Chicago Wolves rode an impressive 28-save performance by Matt Climie to their first win in seven tries this season against the Grand Rapids Griffins, a 3-2 decision before a Wednesday night throng of 8,348 at Van Andel Arena.
After having lost to Grand Rapids thrice in overtime, once in a shootout and twice in regulation this year, the Wolves bolstered their playoff chances and prevented the Griffins from clinching their own postseason berth by prevailing in the sixth one-goal decision between the Midwest Division rivals this season. With Peoria’s 4-0 win over Rockford tonight, a Grand Rapids win in regulation would have officially secured the team’s first playoff appearance since 2009.
The Griffins (40-24-3-4), who began a four-game homestand on the heels of a season-high seven-game road trip, maintain an eight-point lead atop the division over Milwaukee, Rockford and, now, Chicago (35-26-5-4). They’ll host the Admirals on Friday at 7 p.m., when a regulation win by the Griffins would clinch at least a tie for a playoff spot.
An opportunistic Wolves squad escaped a back-and-forth first period – the only frame in which any scoring occurred – with that one-goal margin. Just 4:01 into the game, Petr Mrazek lost sight of the puck in his crease after making a save, and when Adam Almquist rushed in to try to sweep it out of harm’s way, Jordan Schroeder intercepted the puck and put it over the line just before the net was dislodged.
It took the Griffins only 11 seconds to answer, off a faceoff deep in the Chicago zone after Nicklas Jensen was whistled off for tripping. A Wolves clearing attempt deflected off Calle Jarnkrok and onto the stick of Tomas Jurco, who immediately popped a shot into a yawning net from the doorstep.
Chicago went ahead 3-1 with a pair of quick goals less than 10 minutes later. A Schroeder centering pass bounced off the leg of Bill Sweatt and past Mrazek at 12:04, before newly acquired Jon Matsumoto connected on a rocket from the slot at 13:33, prompting Griffins coach Jeff Blashill to call his timeout.
Grand Rapids cut its deficit in half with 2:58 left before intermission, as Almquist took a cross-ice pass from Jan Mursak and ripped a shot inside Climie’s far post from the right circle.
An extremely quick whistle negated what would have been the tying goal and Jurco’s second of the night with just over two minutes remaining in the second period, as Landon Ferraro’s shot slid beneath Climie’s glove before Jurco tapped the loose puck into the net.
Instead, that 3-2 score held until the final horn, despite the Griffins’ best efforts to put another one past Climie.
Mrazek finished with 25 saves.
Notes: With tonight’s attendance of 8,348 and pre-sale figures for their final three home games, the Griffins have secured an attendance increase for the third straight year and the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Hershey, which will finish with an increase for the 10th straight season, is the only AHL team with a longer/better attendance trend since 2006-07.
Three Stars: 1. CHI Sweatt (goal, assist); 2. CHI Climie (W, 28 saves); 3. GR Jurco (power play goal)