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GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 6 at San Diego Gulls 5

Nov. 18, 2022

SAN DIEGO - Taro Hirose’s first hat trick as a pro led the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 6-5 win over the San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena on Friday.

The former Spartan had four points in the contest (3-1–4), as well as the game-winning goal with 1:29 left in the game. Hirose battled with the Gulls’ defense, but fought through the contact and flung the puck behind Lukas Dostal for the win. Grand Rapids converted four of seven power-play opportunities in the contest, including their first three. The Griffins won in a team effort, as Joel L’Esperance (0-2–2), Austin Czarnik (1-1–2), Albert Johansson (0-2–2) and Jared McIsaac (0-2–2) all recorded two points.

11-18-22 | Highlights | San Diego Gulls

While on a 4-on-3 advantage at 4:10 in the initial frame, Czarnik fired a one-timer over the glove of Olle Eriksson Ek and into the top-right corner of the goal for an early lead. Still on a power play, Hirose followed 1:09 later with a shot from the left circle into the top shelf for a 2-0 edge. On the Griffins’ third power play, Dominik Shine extended the lead to three at 10:29 by deflecting in McIsaac’s wrister from the blue line. Jacob Perreault kept the contest within reach for San Diego, notching a tally at 12:56 with a shot sliding just inside the goal post to make it 3-1.

The Griffins recorded another power-play goal at 1:26 in the second, as Pontus Andreasson’s shot from the left-wing circle tipped off of Eriksson Ek’s glove into the cage to go up 4-1. Perreault responded again just 25 seconds later, tapping in a loose puck in the crease to cut the Gulls’ deficit to two. At 15:11, Danny O’Regan rifled in a shot from the left circle to make it 4-3. With 14 seconds to go in the stanza, Hirose scored a massive goal from the right circle to take a two-tally lead into the final frame.

Just 37 seconds into the third period, San Diego was forced to switch to Lukas Dostal at netminder after Eriksson Ek made an acrobatic save and had to be taken off the ice. San Diego knotted things up after Rocco Grimaldi capitalized on a power-play at 1:57 and Brayden Tracy slid the puck just behind the pads of Jussi Olkinuora to make it 5-5 at 10:38. With just 1:29 to go, Wyatt Newpower passed the puck up to Hirose in the left circle. Hirose combated with the San Diego defense and lost his footing near the crease, but tapped in the puck behind Dostal to secure a 6-5 win for Grand Rapids.

- In his first game back with the Griffins since appearing in four contests with the Detroit Red Wings, Czarnik notched his 150th AHL assist on Hirose’s first-period goal.
- Four power-play tallies for Grand Rapids is the most they have scored since recording three on Oct.15 against the Gulls.
- Olkinuora secured his fourth win of the season, saving 17 shots on goal.

Box score
Grand Rapids 3 2 1 - 6
San Diego 1 2 2 - 5

1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Czarnik 6 (Hirose, L’Esperance), 4:10 (PP). 2, Grand Rapids, Hirose 3 (Hanas, Czarnik), 5:19 (PP). 3, Grand Rapids, Shine 4 (McIsaac, Johansson), 10:29 (PP). 4, San Diego, Perreault 5 (Tracey, B. Gates), 12:56. Penalties-Smith Gr (boarding), 2:35; Kirkland Sd (slashing), 3:35; Tracey Sd (hooking), 3:51; Sebrango Gr (roughing, roughing), 7:46; Gawdin Sd (roughing, roughing), 7:46; Kindopp Sd (interference), 9:28; Edvinsson Gr (holding), 13:34; Kirkland Sd (tripping), 17:09; Juolevi Sd (delay of game), 19:48.

2nd Period-5, Grand Rapids, Andreasson 3 (McIsaac, Johansson), 1:26 (PP). 6, San Diego, Perreault 6 (Brouillard, Tracey), 1:51. 7, San Diego, O’Regan 2 (Groulx), 15:11. 8, Grand Rapids, Hirose 4 (L’Esperance), 19:46. Penalties-Brouillard Sd (cross-checking, misconduct - continuing altercation), 16:10.

3rd Period-9, San Diego, Grimaldi 6 (Juolevi, Groulx), 1:57 (PP). 10, San Diego, Tracey 4 (Profaca, Perreault), 10:38. 11, Grand Rapids, Hirose 5 (Newpower), 18:31. Penalties-Edvinsson Gr (interference), 1:51; served by Drew Sd (bench minor - too many men), 4:20; Smith Gr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:05; Drew Sd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:05.

Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 9-11-8-28. San Diego 6-7-9-22.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 4 / 7; San Diego 1 / 3.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Olkinuora 4-4-0 (22 shots-17 saves). San Diego, Eriksson Ek 0-3-0 (21 shots-16 saves); Dostal 5-7-0 (7 shots-6 saves).

Three Stars
1. GR Hirose (hat trick, assist); 2. SD Tracey (goal, two assists); 3. SD Perreault (two goals, assist).

Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 7-7-1-0 (15 pts.) / Sat., Nov. 19 at San Diego 10 p.m. EST
San Diego: 5-10-0-0 (10 pts.) / Sat., Nov. 19 vs. Grand Rapids 7 p.m. PST

Photo by the San Diego Gulls

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