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McCOLLUM GETS THE NOD AND THE SHUTOUT

Iowa Wild 0 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3

Feb. 27, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– The Iowa Wild were the ones left shaking their heads after Tom McCollum Bobblehead Night on Saturday, as the netminder stopped all 29 shots that came his way to backstop the Grand Rapids Griffins to their fourth straight victory, a 3-0 decision at Van Andel Arena.

McCollum’s first shutout of the season marked the seventh of his Griffins career, tying him with teammate Jared Coreau and current Detroit Red Wing Petr Mrazek for fifth on the franchise’s all-time list.

The Griffins (32-20-1-1) will complete their rare 3-in-3 weekend at home – just the 10th such scheduling occurrence in franchise history – when the Chicago Wolves pay a 4 p.m. visit on Sunday. Grand Rapids defeated the Wolves 5-0 in a matinee start in the Windy City on Tuesday, earning the second victory in its current four-game streak.

Rookie defenseman Robbie Russo, who began the night with an AHL-best plus-34 rating, added another to his count 11:54 into the first period. Taking a pass from Martin Frk at the point, he skated several strides to his left before unleashing a shot low to the ice that snuck through Steve Michalek’s five hole.

The Griffins doubled their lead on Louis-Marc Aubry’s goal at 11:20 of the second, when he popped a shot into the far corner from the left circle. The referees discussed and briefly reviewed the play, as Michalek’s crease was crowded by an entanglement between Daniel Cleary and Michael Keranen at the right post as the puck entered the net, but the goal stood to make it a 2-0 contest.

Frk salted away the game with his team-leading 22nd goal of the season during a power play at the 4:38 mark of the third period. After getting a feed from Andy Miele at the top of the left circle, he had ample time to settle the puck down and tee up his wicked slap shot that Michalek could not stop from trickling between his pads and over the line.

The Griffins finished with more than 40 shots for the third time during their four-game winning streak, launching 42 at Iowa (18-32-3-4). Michalek, whose brief AHL resume entering tonight showed a 4-1 record with a 1.82 goals against average and a 0.946 save percentage, stopped 39 of them.

Notes: Now with a plus-35 rating, Russo is stalking the best single-season performances in that category in franchise history. Only five players have finished a season with a higher mark, ranging from current head coach Todd Nelson’s fifth-best plus-36 mark as a defenseman in 1999-2000 to Ivan Ciernik’s franchise-record plus-41 rating the following season.

Three Stars: 1. GR McCollum (W, 29 saves, SO); 2. GR Frk (power play goal, assist); 3. GR Russo (game-winning goal)