01/17/2010 6:28 PM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Jake Dowell’s bank-in goal midway through the third period lifted the Rockford IceHogs to a 4-3 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins, who wrapped up a rare 3-in-3 at home, enter the AHL All-Star break with a 21-21-0-1 mark. They’ll complete their four-game homestand this Friday when the Toronto Marlies pay a 7 p.m. visit.
A back-and-forth first period ended with the IceHogs holding a 3-2 lead. Michael Nylander opened the scoring for the Griffins just 58 seconds in, redirecting a Mattias Ritola feed inside the right post from the slot. Rockford then answered with goals 2:04 apart to take its own lead, as former Griffin Mark Cullen tallied during a power play at 4:02 and Jack Skille beat Jordan Pearce with a wrister from the top of the right circle at 6:06.
Kris Newbury knotted the score 1:21 after Skille’s goal, taking advantage of an odd bounce in the right corner and a misplay of the puck by Rockford netminder Joe Fallon to fire a shot between the goalie’s pads as he scrambled to get back into position.
It looked like the teams would take the tie to the locker room, but a disastrous miscommunication between Pearce and his defensemen enabled Kyle Greentree to score with only 3.9 seconds remaining. Pearce circled behind his net to stop a routine dump-in and intended to leave the puck for a teammate, but Greentree swooped in from the right side to steal the puck and beat Pearce to the left post with a wraparound, shocking the Griffins and giving the IceHogs the lead at the intermission.
Daniel Larsson replaced Pearce to begin the second period, and he would deny all 11 of Rockford’s attempts during the frame. Meanwhile, Jakub Kindl tied the score at the 11:31 mark, drilling a shot from the left point that found the top right corner of Fallon’s net.
The IceHogs (24-18-2-3) retook the lead 10:02 into the third period with what proved to be the game-winning goal. As the Griffins were scrambling in their own zone, Dowell got the puck below the goal line and quickly banked a shot off Larsson for a 4-3 Rockford advantage.
Grand Rapids’ comeback attempt in the waning minutes was hindered by a pair of penalties in the final 3:49, and the IceHogs held on for their third win in four tries against the Griffins this season.
Larsson suffered the undeserved loss despite turning away all but one of the 27 shots he faced, while Pearce logged a no-decision with 11 saves. Fallon denied 27-of-30 in the win, Rockford’s fourth in its last five games.
Three Stars: 1. RFD Dowell (game-winning goal); 2. RFD Greentree (goal, assist); 3. GR Kindl (goal, assist)