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GRIFFINS BATTLE FOR 3-2 OT WIN

ROSEMONT, ILL. – The Grand Rapids Griffins (12-5-1-0) and Chicago Wolves (8-6-2-1) have staged one of the fiercest rivalries in professional hockey. The latest chapter, on Saturday night at Allstate Arena, saw the Griffins come back from two one-goal deficits to win 3-2 in overtime. The win improves the Griffins unblemished road record to 6-0-0-0.

In a strange trend, the road team has won each of the first five of their contests this season.

The winning goal capped a three-point night for Eric Manlow who scored the winner and assisted on two others.

Todd Robinson slid a pass to Manlow in the right wing circle. Manlow fought off the check of a Wolves defender and squeezed a shot under Chicago netminder Kari Lehtonen.

Chicago opened the game’s scoring with a power play tally by Kip Brennan. He pulled up in the Griffins zone and ripped a shot from the right wing faceoff circle that went over Joey MacDonald’s blocker at 6:37 of the first period.

The Griffins answered with a power play tally of their own at 17:29 of the opening period. While enjoying a two-man advantage, Blake Sloan fired from 15 feet out. His shot from the slot was initially stopped by Lehtonen, but the puck’s momentum allowed it to trickle over the line before Lehtonen could smother it.

J.P. Vigier put the Wolves ahead 2-1 at 5:37 of the second period. Cory Larose uncorked a long shot which MacDonald deflected over the net. The puck caromed in front of the Griffins’ net. Vigier swatted the bouncing puck over MacDonald’s shoulder. The Griffins argued that the puck went into the netting, but referee Dean Morton allowed the goal to stand.

Grand Rapids evened the score at 2-2 with another power play marker. Eric Manlow won the draw back to the point to Niklas Kronwall who promptly passed to Bryan Helmer. Helmer marched down the slot and unleashed a shot from 30 feet beating Lehtonen at 7:15 of the third period. For Kronwall, it marked his second assist of the night.

Soon after the score was knotted at 2-2, both teams’ tempers flared when Karl Stewart bumped into Grand Rapids’ goaltender MacDonald for the second time on the evening. The ensuing melee resulted in a Grand Rapids power play, but the Griffins were unable to capitalize on it.

Both goaltenders were stellar, making several sparkling saves to keep their teams in the game. MacDonald made 28 saves for the win, while Lehtonen spurned 36 of the Griffins attempts.

The third game of this “three-in-three” will be Sunday against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks at 4 p.m. at Van Andel Arena.

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