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GRIFFINS KEEP PACE WITH 4-2 WIN

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Grand Rapids Griffins got a goal and an assist from Kip Miller and Eric Manlow to defeat the Utah Grizzlies 4-2 on Friday night at the “E” Center. The win pulls Grand Rapids within one point of both Houston and Cincinnati. The three teams are battling for the two final playoff spots in the West Division.

Joey MacDonald turned aside 38 shots to earn his 34th win of the season and tie Mike Fountain’s franchise record for wins in a single season.

Grand Rapids (40-31-2-2) opened the game’s scoring when Darryl Bootland sprung Tomas Kopecky with a nice pass through the neutral zone. Kopecky made a move through the Grizzlies defensemen and beat David LeNeveu between his legs 2:09 into the tilt.

Utah (20-48-2-5) answered 34 seconds later when Martin Sonnenberg pounced on the rebound of Terry Virtue’s point shot and banged it into a half-empty net.

Grand Rapids regained its one-goal lead when Miller converted the team’s first power play opportunity. One night after the team cashed in three of six advantages, the Griffins scored 6:25 into the first period. The goal moves Miller into sole possession of sixth place on the team’s all-time goals list with 49.

Once again, the Grizzlies battled to tie the score at 2-2 when Joe Callahan cruised through slot and redirected Peter White’s shot through MacDonald’s legs halfway through the second period.

The Griffins responded with a pretty passing play resulting in Manlow’s team-leading 21st goal. Jiri Hudler found Miller with a pass along the left wing boards. Miller surveyed the ice and found Manlow 20 feet away from the goal with a pass. Manlow promptly lasered a shot past LeNeveu at 15:54 of the middle frame for his 100th AHL marker.

The Grizzlies relieved LeNeveu to start the third period with NHL veteran Jamie Storr. LeNeveu turned aside 16 shots in two periods of work.

Brent Kelly notched his first goal as a Griffin midway through the final frame. Kelly won the puck on the wall, skated into the slot and snapped a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net.

Storr, pulled with 3:35 left in the third period, made eight saves in one period. The Griffins held their two-goal lead despite Utah’s extra skater.

The same two teams face each other Saturday at 9 p.m. in Utah.

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