Grifins Rally to Down Wild in Shootout
DES MOINES, IA – The Grand Rapids Griffins rallied from a two-goal deficit then scored the only two goals in the shootout to earn a 4-3 victory over the Iowa Wild on Friday. Taro Hiso had three assists for the Griffins and Joe Hicketts had two assists for Iowa. Jesper Wallstedt stopped 27 shots for the Wild.
Iowa jumped out in front 1:20 into the contest when Steven Fogarty scored on the power-play. Hicketts made a pass Fogarty near the goal line, who lifted a backhander over Grand Rapids netminder John Lethemon to make it 1-0. It was the 17th goal of the season for Fogarty.
Just after the 11-minute mark, Danny O’Regan tied the score at one. This time it was the Griffins on the power-play when Hirose took a shot that Wallstedt saved, but O’Regan knocked the rebound for his 14th of the year.
The score was tied at one through one, but Iowa jumped out to a 3-1 lead, scoring two goals within the first 13 minutes of the second. Turner Ottenbreit gave his team the lead 5:58 into the middle frame when Hicketts passed the puck to Ottenbreit, who blew a one timer by Lethenon for his third of the year.
At the 12:29 mark, Patrick Curry scored his third goal of the season. Damien Giroux used the forecheck to create a turnover inside the Grand Rapids zone, then passed the puck to Curry who lifted a wrist shot past the Griffins netminder to put Iowa on top, 3-1.
With 1:33 left in the second, Joel L’Esperance cut the deficit in half, netting his 23rd tally of the year. Hirose fed the puck to L’Esperance in the neutral zone, who split between two defenders before going in on Wallstedt. He beat the Iowa netminder with a wrist shot to make it 3-2 heading to the second intermission.
Iowa looked like they would hold onto the one goal victory but, with five seconds left in the contest and Lethenon on the bench, Pontus Andreasson scored to force overtime. Hirose took a shot that Wallstedt saved, but Andreasson battled through to push the loose puck in for his 12th goal of the season.
Neither team could score in the overtime session, sending this game to a shootout. There, O’Regan and L’Esperance scored the only goals to give Grand Rapids the victory.
The Iowa Wild (30-24-10) will host the Grand Rapids Griffins (27-29-7) again on Saturday. Iowa holds a one-point lead over Rockford for fourth place in the Central Division. Grand Rapids is nine points back. This is an early afternoon affair, where the puck drops at 12:00.
by Robert Pannier