San Antonio Rampage 4 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 7
Nov. 8, 2017
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Trailing 4-2 against one of the AHL’s early-season powers, the Grand Rapids Griffins roared back with five unanswered goals over the final 29 minutes to wrest a 7-4 victory from the San Antonio Rampage in Wednesday’s annual matinee game at Van Andel Arena.
The Rampage entered the day tied for the second-highest points percentage (.750) in the league and had surrendered as many as four goals only once in their first 10 games, but they were abused by a relentless Griffins offense that was sparked by two power play goals from Matt Lorito and two-point efforts by five other players.
Tom McCollum entered in relief late in the first period to stop 19 of 20 shots and earn his second straight win for a Griffins squad that has clawed back to the .500-mark at 6-6-0-1. Fresh off their fifth straight triumph over San Antonio and first back-to-back wins of the season, the Griffins will now embark on a five-game, four-city road trip that begins this Friday at 8:30 p.m. EST against the Texas Stars.
The Rampage (7-3-1-0) struck just 1:58 into the contest when Julien Nantel spun and slapped the puck past Jared Coreau from the right faceoff dot. Grand Rapids tied it at 5:09 thanks in part to a fortunate bounce, as Filip Hronek’s slap shot from above the right circle hit the skate blade of San Antonio’s Chris Butler and caromed directly onto the stick of Turner Elson, who whipped a shot inside the left post before Ville Husso could slide across.
The deadlock lasted only 34 seconds, as Andrew Agozzino chased down the puck in the left circle and blasted it between Coreau and the near post. San Antonio scored again at the 14:36 mark to make it 3-1, with Duncan Siemens threading a stretch pass through several Griffins defenders to Tage Thompson, who broke in alone and beat Coreau with a backhand.
The Rampage’s third goal on six shots sent Coreau to the bench in favor of McCollum, who was coming off a 33-save performance in Sunday’s 2-1 comeback win over Milwaukee. He made six stops over the final 5:24 of the frame to stabilize his team and keep the deficit at two through 20 minutes.
A nifty play during a 5-on-3 power play early in the second period helped the Griffins pull back within one. From the left corner, Lorito carried the puck behind the Rampage net, dropped it to Matt Ford as they skated past each other and snuck out near the right post, where he promptly slammed home Ford’s backdoor feed at 2:28.
Nantel netted his second of the afternoon from the left side at 7:04 to make it a 4-2 game, but the Griffins potted a pair in short order to forge a tie at four apiece. Off Ford’s faceoff win in the right circle, Robbie Russo unleashed a cannon from the point that blew past Husso at 11:20, before Evgeny Svechnikov squared the score by one-timing an Axel Holmstrom pass from low in the right circle at 13:25 for the Griffins’ second power play tally.
Colin Campbell, who had missed the last two games due to injury, scored the Griffins’ third straight goal 1:42 into the final period to give them their first lead of the game. He cleaned up a flurry in the Rampage end by chipping a rebound point-blank into a wide-open net, putting Grand Rapids ahead 5-4, before Lorito tallied from the left circle during a power play at 10:44 to double the margin.
With Husso and his 30 saves on the bench for an extra attacker, Corey Elkins finished off the scoring at 17:09 by blocking a shot at the point then sending the puck down the ice for a shorthanded, empty-net goal.
The Griffins went 3-for-7 on the power play while blanking the Rampage in seven opportunities. Grand Rapids is now 5-for-16 with the advantage over the last two games and has not allowed a power play goal to the opposition in 22 chances over the last four outings.
Notes: McCollum played in his 300th pro game while Ford earned the 200th and 201st assists of his career…Elson notched a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with his first-period goal, an assist on Campbell’s third-period goal and a fight with Agozzino in the final minute…Hronek, Ford, Matt Puempel and Tyler Bertuzzi each had two assists…After the game, the Griffins released left wing Matt Carey from his pro tryout. In eight appearances this season, he recorded one goal, one assist and nine penalty minutes.
Three Stars: 1. GR Lorito (two power play goals); 2. SA Nantel (two goals); 3. GR McCollum (W, 19 saves)