04/19/2014 6:11 PM
GR 3, LE 4 SO
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3 at Lake Erie Monsters 4 SO
April 19, 2014
CLEVELAND — Grand Rapids didn’t go down easily in its final regular season game, but a Lake Erie Monsters shootout shot that bounced off Tom McCollum’s back into the net ended the Griffins’ hopes for the Midwest Division title in a 4-3 shootout loss Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Griffins (46-23-2-5) fell behind twice in the back-and-forth matchup before forcing an overtime period and eventually a shootout. J.T. Wyman scored on McCollum in the third round, and Adam Almquist responded with Grand Rapids’ only marker of the shootout, a fast snap from up the middle.
In the fourth round, McCollum made the initial save on Brett Clark’s attempt, but the puck hit the crossbar and rebounded off McCollum’s back into the net for the game-winning goal. McCollum finished the game with 37 saves in the loss, while Calvin Pickard stopped 35 of 38 shots.
Next up for the Griffins is the fifth-seeded Abbotsford Heat in the best-of-five Western Conference quarterfinals. Fourth-seeded Grand Rapids will begin its defense of the Calder Cup at 10 p.m. EDT on April 25 at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.
The opening frame of Saturday's match was scoreless, despite opportunistic scoring chances on both sides of the ice. During the Griffins’ second of two first-period power plays, Landon Ferraro had a pair of chances from the doorstep and point-blank range, but Pickard used acrobatic goaltending to keep the puck out of the net. At 7:35, Mike Sgarbossa found himself one-on-one with McCollum, but his shot banged off the pipes and the game remained 0-0.
At 5:18 of the second period, the deadlock was broken when Michael Heard snapped a wrist shot above McCollum’s glove on a two-on-one rush.
Soon after, Andreas Athanasiou scored his first professional goal in only his second professional game at 6:27. Teemu Pulkkinen found Almquist in the slot, and Almquist quickly passed to Athanasiou at the left post for the tying goal.
Athanasiou helped strike again just 53 seconds later. He rushed Pickard’s net and fought through the scrum for a shot, but the puck popped free to Andrej Nestrasil at the top of the crease. Nestrasil’s shot rolled along the goal line and made it just inside the net before rolling out. The play wasn’t initially ruled a goal, but the referees awarded Nestrasil his 15th goal of the campaign after a lengthy review.
Adding to an assist from Friday’s game, Athanasiou has racked up three points with the Griffins.
Lake Erie (32-33-1-10) knotted the game again with 1:11 left in the second period. From behind the net, Troy Bourke fed a rushing David van der Gulik for the tap-in.
Bourke redirected Daniel Maggio’s shot to put the Monsters on top 3:57 into the third period, but Ryan Sproul pulled the game back within reach with a tying tally at 6:46. From the blue line, Sproul sent a wrister into the top left corner of the net during four-on-four play.
The Griffins had a slight 3-2 edge in shots in the overtime period.
Three Stars: 1. LE Clark (game-winning shootout goal); 2. LE Heard (goal); 3. GR Athanasiou (goal, assist)