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The Comeback Kids

Mar 24, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel


March 24, 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Grand Rapids Griffins completed their second consecutive two-goal comeback on Friday when they defeated the Iowa Wild 4-3 in a shootout at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Griffins trailed 3-1 late in the second period before Joel L’Esperance got them within one going into the third period. Pontus Andreasson’s heroics with just five seconds left pushed the game to an eventual shootout where Danny O’Regan and L’Esperance capped off the night for Grand Rapids. With three helpers, Taro Hirose tied Nathan Paetsch for sixth on the franchise’s all-time assist leaderboard with 122. L’Esperance added two points while O’Regan’s power-play tally gave him nine points (4-5—9) in his last eight outings. John Lethemon garnered his first victory as a Griffin, saving 21 of 24 shots during regulation and both shootout attempts from the Wild. Grand Rapids moved within eight points of the Rockford IceHogs for the final playoff spot with nine games remaining.

March 25, 2023  ·  4 Minutes

Iowa Wild (3) vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (4) SO | 03.24.2023

The Wild kicked things off with a power-play goal 1:20 into the content when Steven Fogarty charged toward the right post and chipped the puck past Lethemon. The Griffins returned the favor with a power-play tally of their own at the 11:01 mark. After Hirose’s shot was kicked away by Jesper Wallstedt, O’Regan gathered the rebound in the right circle and snapped the puck over the glove of the netminder.

Iowa made it a 2-1 game at 5:58 when Turner Ottenbreit fired a one-timer from the right wing that slipped under the armpit of Lethemon. Former Griffin Patrick Curry doubled the Wild’s advantage with his third goal of the season at 12:29. With just 1:33 remaining in the second period, L’Esperance got the Griffins back into the contest when he walked around the defense and snuck the disc inside the right post from the slot.

Grand Rapids pulled Lethemon for an extra skater with 2:43 remaining and peppered Wallstedt with five shots before Andreasson found the tying goal with just five seconds left. After a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Hirose slipped the puck to the right circle where Andreasson hammered a one-timer past the glove of the netminder.

Iowa held a 3-1 shot advantage in overtime but failed to convert. In the shootout, O’Regan started things off on a positive note in the first round and was followed by L’Esperance’s tally to secure a much-needed 4-3 shootout victory for the Griffins.


  • Andreasson now has three points (2-1—3) in his last two outings.
  • Through three games, Lethemon has a 2.93 goals against average and a 0.899 save percentage.
  • The Griffins improved to 15-2-4-3 (0.771) in games decided by one goal.

Box Score
Grand Rapids 1 1 1 0 - 4
Iowa 1 2 0 0 - 3

1st Period-1, Iowa, Fogarty 17 (Petan, Hicketts), 1:20 (PP). 2, Grand Rapids, O’Regan 14 (Hirose, Viro), 11:01 (PP). Penalties-Weatherby Gr (holding), 1:04; Giroux Ia (interference), 9:21; Newpower Gr (interference), 19:32.

2nd Period-3, Iowa, Ottenbreit 3 (Hicketts), 5:58. 4, Iowa, Curry 3 (Giroux), 12:29. 5, Grand Rapids, L’Esperance 23 (Hirose, Sebrango), 18:27. Penalties-Shine Gr (slashing), 15:03.

3rd Period-6, Grand Rapids, Andreasson 12 (Hirose, L’Esperance), 19:55. Penalties-Barton Gr (tripping), 3:51.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties

Shootout - Grand Rapids 2 (O’Regan G, L’Esperance G), Iowa 0 (Milne NG, Petan NG).
Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 8-7-14-1-1-31. Iowa 6-12-3-3-0-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 1 / 1; Iowa 1 / 4.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Lethemon 1-1-1 (24 shots-21 saves). Iowa, Wallstedt 16-13-5 (30 shots-27 saves).

Three Stars
1. GR Hirose (three assists); 2. GR Shine; 3. IA Joe Hicketts (two assists)

Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 27-29-4-3 (61 pts.) / Sat., March 25 at Iowa 1 p.m. EDT
Iowa: 30-24-5-5 (70 pts.) / Sat., March 25 vs. Grand Rapids 12 p.m. CDT

Photo by Tim Garland/Wild