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CLOUD NINE

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 9 at Rockford IceHogs 1

Feb. 5, 2016

ROCKFORD, Ill. – A hat trick and five points from Mitch Callahan helped the Grand Rapids Griffins snap their five-game losing streak, routing the Central Division-leading Rockford IceHogs 9-1 on Friday at BMO Harris Bank Center.
 
Martin Frk also registered a pair of goals while Tom McCollum stopped 37 of 38 shots as the Griffins scored four times on the power play en route to matching their largest margin of victory in franchise history. The result also snapped the IceHogs’ seven-game point streak.
 
Mike Liambas started the scoring shorthanded for Rockford (27-11-3-4) 3:31 into the opening period. Anthony Mantha’s errant cross-ice pass from the right point ended up on the stick of Liambas. After gaining the zone on the right wing on a partial breakaway, Liambas fired a shot from the right circle low to the glove side.
 
Callahan replied for the Griffins (25-17-1-1) just 27 seconds later. Just as a Jake Dowell boarding penalty expired, Mark Zengerle’s pass from the right corner found Callahan alone in front of the net, lifting a fluttering puck over Michael Leighton’s glove and in.
 
Xavier Ouellet gave the Griffins the lead with 5:30 remaining. Mantha’s feed from center ice reached Ouellet as he was gaining the zone on the left side. Ouellet then sent a slapshot from the left point over the Rockford netminder’s glove.
 
Frk gave the Griffins a two-goal advantage with 11.2 seconds on the clock. Nick Jensen’s wrist shot from the right circle found its way through traffic, forcing a save from Leighton. In a scramble in front of the goal, Callahan kicked the rebound in the direction of Frk, who scored on a tap-in at the left post.
 
The Griffins took advantage of two extended power play opportunities in the middle frame. First, Kirill Gotovets received a major and game misconduct for boarding when he hit Eric Tangradi from behind at the 2:02 mark. Grand Rapids capitalized 1:14 into the power play when, after Nathan Paetsch’s wrist shot from the point was saved, the rebound end up on the stick of Callahan in front, chipping the puck past Leighton’s glove side.
 
Frk made it a four-goal cushion on the power play with 8:57 left in the second period. With Marko Dano serving a double-minor for high-sticking Tangradi, Paetsch’s cross-ice pass from the left point found Frk, who blasted a slapshot from the top of the right circle to the short side for his second of the night and 16th of the campaign. That goal proved to be the end of the night for Leighton, who was replaced by Mac Carruth.
 
Tomas Nosek added to the IceHogs’ misery with 5:52 remaining. Dan Cleary’s pass from the right half-wall found Nosek at the bottom of the right circle. Nosek then crashed the net, sending a shot past Carruth’s blocker to give the Griffins a commanding 6-1 lead after 40 minutes.
 
The night went from bad to worse for Rockford as the Griffins added three insurance tallies in the final frame. Jeff Hoggan scored on a breakaway at the 5:06 mark after receiving a stretch pass from Jensen. Hoggan faked a shot on his forehand before sending a shot through the five-hole.
 
Callahan completed his hat trick on the power play 52 seconds later. Ryan Sproul sent a pass from the right half-wall to Callahan in the slot, who moved from backhand to forehand, lifting a puck high to the glove side.
 
Tangradi added a ninth goal on the power play with 4:45 left in regulation. Zengerle’s pass from the left corner found Tangradi in the slot, scoring on a backhanded shot that trickled through Carruth’s five-hole for his team-leading 17th of the season.
 
Grand Rapids finished 4-for-10 on the power play, while Rockford failed to score on four opportunities. Leighton stopped 16 of 21 shots in a losing effort while Carruth turned aside seven of 11 shots in relief.
 
The Griffins return to Van Andel Arena on Saturday for a rematch with the Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m.
 
Three Stars: 1. GR Callahan (hat trick, two assists); 2. GR Frk (two goals); 3. GR Paetsch (three assists) 
 
Notes: Friday’s result tied the Griffins’ franchise record for largest margin of victory in a single game (8), set on three previous occasions (Nov. 11, 2011 at Hamilton (8-0); Feb. 24, 2002 vs. Utah (9-1); April 1, 2001 at Cleveland (8-0))…McCollum tied Joey MacDonald’s franchise record with his 210th appearance between the pipes…The Griffins are 17-3-1-0 with Cleary in the lineup…Grand Rapids last scored nine or more goals on Dec. 27, 2014 in a 9-2 victory over the Iowa Wild.