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Rockford IceHogs 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 OT

Feb. 6, 2016

– The Grand Rapids Griffins toppled the Central Division-leading Rockford IceHogs for the second straight night on Saturday, as Tomas Nosek’s goal 59 seconds into overtime gave them a 4-3 victory at Van Andel Arena.

Nosek collected a loose puck at center ice and worked his way into the Rockford zone before passing to Nick Jensen and driving to the net. Jensen’s rocket from the right circle was denied by Michael Leighton, but Nosek slashed across the top of the crease to backhand the rebound home.

The Griffins (26-17-1-1), who snapped a 0-4-1-0 skid on home ice that came on the heels of their franchise-record 14-game winning streak at Van Andel Arena, will hit the road for their next three contests, starting with a Friday-Saturday set against the Iowa Wild.

Following their 9-1 slaughter of the IceHogs in Rockford on Friday, the Griffins got their offense started early with their 10th unanswered goal of the weekend series just 3:36 into the first period. Seconds after Leighton robbed Andy Miele with a brilliant point-blank glove save during a Grand Rapids power play, Martin Frk took a pass from Miele at the top of the circles and blasted a slap shot into the left corner at 3:36.

The IceHogs (27-11-4-4) broke the streak of Griffins goals at the 8:15 mark when Mark McNeill tapped a rebound past Jared Coreau, but Grand Rapids kept the offense rolling on Frk’s second of the game 2:04 later. He crashed the goalmouth during a scrum, found a loose puck in the slot and slipped it just inside the right post to put the home team ahead at 2-1.

A similar script played out in the second period, as again Rockford tied the score only to see the Griffins respond in short order. With the IceHogs breaking into the Grand Rapids zone on a 3-on-1, Chris DeSousa fired a shot from the right side that Coreau turned aside, but Tanner Kero was waiting in the left circle to pot the puck into a yawning cage at 8:13. Then just 47 seconds later, Tyler Bertuzzi gobbled up a mishandled puck in the high slot and sped toward Leighton before putting a backhand between the netminder’s pads, making it a 3-2 contest.

The IceHogs forged a tie for the third time during a power play at 13:59, as Marko Dano darted across the slot to deflect Ville Pokka’s shot from the right point past Coreau. The Griffins finished the period with that lone goal by Bertuzzi, after having scored at least two goals in each of their previous five periods (3-3-3-3-2) against Rockford.

The score remained 3-3 through the end of regulation, although the Griffins had their chances late thanks to a power play with fewer than five minutes remaining and a flurry around the Rockford net in the final 30 seconds.

Grand Rapids has now won the last four meetings against the IceHogs. Coreau stopped 29 shots to improve to 21-8-2 on the season and 3-0 versus Rockford, while Leighton made 34 saves in defeat.

Three Stars
: 1. GR Frk (two goals); 2. GR Nosek (overtime goal); 3. RFD Dano (power play goal, assist)