GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 at Texas Stars 3 (SO)
Feb. 4, 2023
CEDAR PARK, Texas - The Grand Rapids Griffins won their 500th road game in franchise history (500-412-12-34-60) and finished its five-game roadstand with a 4-1-0-0 record courtesy of a 4-3 shootout victory over the Stars on Saturday at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
Elmer Soderblom buried the shootout-winner in the third round to keep Grand Rapids unbeaten in its last four contests and to complete the weekend series with a sweep of the division-leading Stars. The Swede is currently riding a four-game point streak (4-2–6). Jakub Vrana extended his point spell to four outings (4-2–6) as well with a pair of goals. In his last seven games, Vrana has eight points (6-2–8) and has rocketed into a tie for seventh place with Danny O’Regan in goals scored by a Griffin this season in just 15 fixtures. Filip Zadina’s third-period score sent the game to overtime, his first tally in the AHL since Jan. 24, 2020 and the first of his conditioning stint.
Texas began the opening period with a goal at 7:10 off of a faceoff win, as Fredrik Olofsson buried a loose puck on the doorstep after Alex Nedeljkovic’s (W, 34 saves) save on Nicholas Caamano. On a power play with 8:14 left in the first, Vrana rifled a shot from the top of the left circle, over Matthew Murray’s catching glove and into the top shelf. Officials reviewed the play and determined the puck narrowly crossed the goal line before ricocheting out of the cage to knot the contest at one apiece.
Nedeljkovic and Grand Rapids’ penalty kill worked together to ward off a ferocious attack from Texas in the second. Nedeljkovic made a stunning save at 1:54 on Fredrick Karlstrom as his shot deflected off the goal post and towards the goal line, but the Parma, Ohio, native gloved the disc just inches before lighting the lamp. The Griffins’ penalty kill fended off 5:21 of power-play time for the Stars, including 39 seconds of 5-on-3 play to keep the game tied heading into the final frame.
Vrana recorded his second goal of the night on the behalf of Simon Edvinsson’s pass from the right circle, allowing him to tap the puck in from the crease at 2:14. Riley Tufte immediately responded at 3:27 with an impressive shot under the left arm of Nedeljkovic from the top of the right circle. Rhett Gardner then lasered a shot into the top-right corner of the cage at 5:47 to take a 3-2 advantage. With 11:10 to go, Matt Luff passed across the goalmouth to Zadina to allow him to tie the game at three and eventually send the game into overtime.
After a scoreless overtime, Nedlejkovic and Murray saved five-consecutive shots in the shootout before Soderblom got his chance. The rookie’s shot blew past the stick of Murray to complete Grand Rapids’ sweep of the Stars.
- In his return from injury, Luff has five apples in as many games.
- Nedeljkovic is on a winning streak of his own with three-consecutive victories between the pipes.
- Dominik Shine returned to the lineup after his two-game suspension.
Grand Rapids 1 0 2 0 - 4
Texas 1 0 2 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Texas, Olofsson 5 (Caamano), 7:10. 2, Grand Rapids, Vrana 5 (Kampfer, Chiasson), 11:46 (PP). Penalties-served by Blumel Tex (bench minor - too many men), 10:05.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Johansson Gr (tripping), 12:43; Shine Gr (tripping), 14:04; Johansson Gr (holding), 17:04.
3rd Period-3, Grand Rapids, Vrana 6 (Edvinsson, Soderblom), 2:14. 4, Texas, Tufte 10 (Studenic, Butcher), 3:27. 5, Texas, Gardner 6 5:47 (SH). 6, Grand Rapids, Zadina 1 (Luff, Johansson), 8:50. Penalties-Harley Tex (interference), 5:25.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout - Grand Rapids 1 (Zadina NG, Vrana NG, Soderblom G), Texas 0 (Barber NG, Kero NG, Peterson NG).
Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 10-9-10-3-1-33. Texas 13-13-8-3-0-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 1 / 2; Texas 0 / 3.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Nedeljkovic 7-3-2 (37 shots-34 saves). Texas, Murray 11-7-4 (32 shots-29 saves).
1. GR Soderblom (shootout-winner, assist); 2. GR Vrana (two goals); 3. TEX Tufte (goal).
Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 19-20-2-2 (42 pts.) / Fri., Feb. 10 vs. Manitoba 7 p.m. EST
Texas: 24-11-6-3 (57 pts.) / Fri., Feb. 10 at Colorado 8:05 p.m. CST
Photo by Ross Bonander/Stars