Griffins Rally in Wild Third Period to Down Iowa, 5-4
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A goaltending duel that saw just one goal scored to the first two periods turned into a wild West shootout in the third, as the teams combined for eight goals in the final frame. However, when the dust settled it was the Grand Rapids Griffins that skated away with the victory, defeating the Iowa Wild on Friday night, 5-4. Nine different players scored goals in the game, including Gerry Mayhew for Iowa, who also added an assist.
Iowa goaltender Hunter Jones was outstanding early on, tested by Grand Rapids on a number of occasions but kept them off the score sheet each time. However, the Griffins would finally break through at 10:51. With the face-off in the Iowa end, the Wild actually won the draw, pulling it back to the end boards, but it was Grand Rapids forward Jarid Lukosevicius who outraced a Wild defenseman for the puck, moving quickly behind the net before stuffing the wraparound through the legs of Jones for his first goal of the year.
Through the first 40 minutes that would be all the scoring, as Grand Rapids outshot Iowa, 23-18. In the third, looking to generate some offense, the Wild stepped up their game, outshooting the Griffins 15-10. However, it would be Grand Rapids that would jump out to a commanding lead, scoring two goals within the first four minutes of the third period.
The first came at 2:50. Dylan McIlrath fired a shot from the point. Kyle Cruiscuolo was left all alone at the side of the net and was able to deflect the puck past Jones for his sixth goal of the season.
Just 65 seconds later Grand Rapids was back on the board. The Wild were trying to clear the puck out of their zone, but Grand Rapids was able to continue to maintain possession, getting a couple of great scoring opportunities. Eventually, Gregor MacLeod passed the puck back to Albin Grewe at the point. He sped down the slot, firing a wrist shot that looked like it deflected off an Iowa player and into the goal for his first tally of the year.
This game looked like it was going to get out of control, as the Wild were doing nothing against Grand Rapids goaltender Kevin Boyle. Boyle had stopped the first 22 shots he faced, but Mayhew broke up the shutout bid and got Iowa back into the game with his seventh goal of the season at the 9:32 mark.
This time it was the Griffins who are having trouble getting the puck out of their zone. The forechecking of Matt Boldy, Connor Dewar, and Mayhew was making it impossible for Grand Rapids to clear their own zone. Boldy was able to knock the puck off a Griffins’ player’s stick and into the corner. He quickly raced over and gained control, firing the puck out front to Mayhew who buried the one-timer to cut the deficit to two.
Just 14 seconds later this became a one goal game. Off the face-off, Gabriel Dumont gained control and passed it ahead to Will Bitten, sending him in on a 2-on-1 break. Bitten fired a shot that Boyle saved, but the rebound came to Brandon Duhaime, who moved around Boyle before firing a wrist shot in for his first goal of the season.
Grand Rapids called a timeout, trying to calm things down, but it did not work as the Wild tied the score 22 seconds after the Duhaime tally. Matt Bartkowski passed the puck in front to Mayhew who tried to get a shot off before being cross checked to the ice. Mason Shaw corralled the loose puck and fired it past Boyle to tie the score at three. For Shaw it was his sixth the goal of the year.
Iowa was in complete command of this game and, at the 14:41 mark, Boldy gave them the lead. Mayhew setup the play with a great forechecking effort, knocking the puck off the stick of the Grand Rapids defenseman behind his own net. That allowed Boldy to swoop in, gain control of the puck, and quickly moved out front, pushing the backhand attempt over the shoulder of the Griffins goaltender for his third goal in just his fourth professional game.
In a little over five minutes the Wild had rallied from three goals down to being ahead by a goal, but it would be the Griffins opportunity to rally as they scored two goals in the final three minutes of the game to earn the victory. At 17:12, Taro Hirose moved down the left side and into the Iowa zone on a 2-on-1 break. It looked as if Jones was anticipating the pass across the slot, but Hirose opted to take the shot himself, beating the Iowa netminder over the right shoulder for his fourth goal of the year.
With 42 seconds left in the contest and Iowa looking like they were going to at least skate away with a point, Dominic Turgeon delivered the game-winner. Givani Smith led a 3-on-1 rush into the Wild zone. He battled through the Iowa defender, maintaining control long enough to pass the puck to Turgeon who was just inside the left face-off circle. He fired a shot that beat Jones over the shoulder for his third goal of the year and suddenly the Griffins were back on top, 5-4. That would be the final.
Both Mayhew and Boldy had a goal and an assist for Iowa. Jones stopped 28 of 33 shots while seeing his personal three-game winning streak come to an end. Boyle earned the victory, stopping 29 of 33 shots. The Griffins had 13 players who had a point in the contest.
The Wild (10-10-4) will be looking for a little revenge on Saturday night when they take on the Griffins once again. The puck drops at 6:00 Iowa time.
By Robert Pannier