Chicago Wolves 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3 OT
March 13, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A five-game winning streak, a perfect 6-0 record against their closest rival in the standings, and a nine-point lead atop the Midwest Division were the spoils of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ dramatic 3-2 overtime victory against the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Landon Ferraro scored the fastest overtime goal in franchise history just 18 seconds into the extra session, tipping Brett Skinner’s cannon from the right point past Matt Climie to ignite the robust weeknight crowd of 8,018.
Ferraro’s two goals and Petr Mrazek’s tremendous 30-save performance were the keys as the Griffins (36-19-2-2) overcame a determined Chicago squad that enjoyed the advantage in play for much of the night. As a result, Grand Rapids improved to 8-1 in its last nine home games, its best run at Van Andel Arena since posting a 9-1 mark to start the 2009-10 campaign.
The Wolves (29-19-5-4) forced the action in the early going but were thwarted numerous times by Mrazek before breaking through on their ninth shot 11:24 into the opening period. Jordan Schroeder, reassigned to Chicago on Monday after spending more than two months with the Vancouver Canucks, set up in front of the Grand Rapids net and put the heel of his stick on Derek Joslin’s blast from the left point, redirecting the puck inside the left post.
Consecutive Chicago penalties late in the period resulted in the Griffins starting the second with 1:28 of a 5-on-3 power play and fresh ice, but they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Once back at even strength, the Wolves resumed their control of the contest and nearly increased their lead at the 13-minute mark, when Brad Hunt drove hard to the net and the puck bounced over the line. But Hunt was whistled off for goaltender interference, negating the goal.
The Griffins finally got on the scoreboard in a crazy final minute of the frame, scoring on consecutive shots 18 seconds apart to take a stunning 2-1 lead to the locker room. Tomas Tatar, who missed the Griffins’ last 14 games while in Detroit, finished a give-and-go with Francis Pare by popping a backhand past Matt Climie from the doorstep at the 19:31 mark. Then, during Grand Rapids’ subsequent rush up ice, Tomas Jurco sent a feed across the top of the crease that deflected off Ferraro’s left skate and into the cage with 11 seconds remaining. A subsequent video review by referee Terry Koharski determined that there was no kicking motion, validating Ferraro’s tally and the Griffins’ one-goal lead.
Grand Rapids maintained its advantage until just 3:56 remained in regulation. With Chicago on a power play, Nicklas Jensen fanned on his initial attempt from the slot before quickly getting off a shot that sailed into the top of the net, forcing the eventual overtime.
Five of the Griffins’ six wins against the Wolves have come by a single goal, including an incredible three overtime wins and one shootout victory. Strangely enough, Chicago extended its own point streak against Grand Rapids to three games (0-0-2-1) tonight.
Climie made 21 saves in defeat for the Wolves, who are now 1-0-1-1 in their last three outings.
Three Stars: 1. GR Ferraro (two goals); 2. GR Tatar (goal); 3. GR Mrazek (W, 30 saves)