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AEROS STILL GROUNDED

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Jimmy Howard made 24 saves, including 14 during a hectic third period, to backstop the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 2-1 win over the Houston Aeros on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

The victory was the second for the Griffins (3-1-1-0) in as many tries this season against the Aeros (0-5-0-1), who continued their worst start in 11 seasons despite challenging Grand Rapids until the final buzzer. The two rivals will meet on the same stage Saturday in a 7 p.m. start. 

The Griffins came out firing at the Aeros in the first period, out-shooting the visitors by a whopping 20-6 margin, but were kept off the scoreboard by the stellar netminding of Josh Harding. The 20 shots were just three short of Grand Rapids’ record for a single period.

Brendan Brooks finally broke through Harding’s wall at 8:07 of the second, beating him glove-side with a wicked slap shot from above the right circle. The crack widened just 1:51 later when Ryan Oulahen collected a loose puck in the high slot, spun and whipped a shot into the top right corner of the cage. Defenseman Tom Galvin, playing in his second pro game, earned his first points with assists on both goals.

Grand Rapids carried a 32-10 shots advantage into the final period, when Houston awoke from its slumber and began to sustain pressure in the Griffins’ zone. The Aeros used good fortune and a power play to pull within one at the 10:36 mark, when a deflection helped Alex Leavitt feed Benoit Pouliot for a back-door tap-in into an open net.

Houston’s luck went the other direction as it desperately tried for the equalizer, with two shots ringing off the iron and Howard denying the rest over the final minutes. Harding made 37 saves in the fruitless effort.

Notes: Howard tied Jani Hurme for sixth on the Griffins’ all-time wins list with 29…Oulahen picked up the first game-winning goal of his career…Galvin became the fifth different Griffin to record a multi-point game this season…Houston’s league-worst power play went 1-for-5 on the night, while the Griffins failed to score with the advantage for the first time this season, going 0-for-4…Grand Rapids is 1-1-0-0 on its season-high eight-game homestand.


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