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STAR STRUCK

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Joel Lundqvist’s second goal of the game at 2:42 of overtime gave the Iowa Stars a 4-3 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins (12-14-3-2) held a 2-0 lead early in the third period before a bevy of scoring, including Lundqvist’s game-tying goal with 9:25 left, enabled the Stars (15-15-0-0) to rally for just the second win in their last nine outings. Grand Rapids, winless in its last four, will visit Peoria on Friday for an 8:30 p.m. EST start against the Rivermen.

Following a scoreless first period, the Griffins struck at 8:29 of the second frame, with Ryan Oulahen converting a rebound from the left side for a 1-0 lead. A tremendous individual effort by Eric Himelfarb then increased the advantage to two just 1:35 into the third. Carrying the puck out of his own zone, he weaved up ice, deftly moved around a defender and crashed into the right post as his shot slid past Dan Ellis.

However, Iowa answered with a pair of goals 2:44 apart to ruin Jimmy Howard’s shutout bid and knot the score. John Lammers threw a shot at the net from the right corner and watched the puck slip between Howard and the post at 4:01, and Mario Scalzo found a loose puck in the slot and sent a wrister blocker-side at 6:45.

Presented with a 5-on-3 power play with 12 minutes remaining, the Griffins did not squander their chance. From the left corner, Josh Langfeld lasered a pass through the slot to Kip Miller, who earlier today was named captain of the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team. Miller beat Ellis top shelf from below the circle at the 8:33 mark for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.

The Stars again responded at 10:35, as Lundqvist was given credit for jamming home a puck that Howard appeared to have covered. After combining for five goals in just nine minutes, the teams were blanked for the remainder of regulation, despite Iowa receiving a power play with 2:05 left.

Matt Hussey had a chance to end it on a breakaway early in overtime after stealing the puck at the Griffins’ blue line, but the puck rolled away from him before he could get a shot off. Shortly after, Iowa went back on the power play, and Lundqvist scored from the slot to drop the Griffins’ overtime record this season to 0-3.

Howard lost despite 35 saves, while Ellis earned the victory with 28 stops.


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