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LIVIN' RIGHT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Stefan Liv earned his first North American shutout on Saturday with a fine 24-save performance, backstopping the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 2-0 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs at Van Andel Arena.

Liv’s first home win of the season gave the Griffins three standings points in the last two nights and lifted their record to 14-15-4-2. The Bulldogs, who dropped to 21-12-1-1 with their second straight loss, were shut out for the first time in more than a year, dating to a 4-0 defeat at Hershey on Dec. 17, 2005.

Grand Rapids will close out 2006 on Sunday by hosting its 10th annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza. Game time against the first-place Rochester Americans is set for 7 p.m.

The Griffins scored the game’s only goals during the opening period, beginning with Kip Miller’s team-leading 14th of the season during a 4-on-4 at the 14:02 mark. Given space and time by the Bulldogs’ defense, he ripped a pinpoint shot over Yann Danis’ left shoulder from the right circle.

Grand Rapids, which fired the last eight shots of the period en route to a 13-5 advantage at the intermission, also made the final one count with just 2.4 seconds remaining. With the Griffins buzzing around the Hamilton zone and generating several scoring chances on the power play, Matt Ellis found an opening in the slot and jammed a Miller pass into the top of the net for a 2-0 lead at the break.

Liv did the rest with help from his defense, denying 14 shots in the second period and five in the third to keep Hamilton’s potent offense off the scoreboard. Grand Rapids, which has allowed only one goal in the last 123:49 of regulation time, held an opponent scoreless on the power play for the second straight game, denying seven attempts on the heels of Friday’s perfect six-kill night in Milwaukee.

Danis stopped 29 shots in the loss.

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