Grand Rapids Griffins lose 3-2 to Moose in opener of best-of-5 1st-round series

Updated 5x with both teams’ recaps at 9:57 PM: The Grand Rapids Griffins dropped the first game of their best-of-five series against the Manitoba Moose, losing 3-2 in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon.

The teams will battle again on Sunday at 3 PM EDT (on The AHL Live and ESPN 96.1 FM).

Here’s a quick summary of Saturday’s game’s events, with much more to come as the Griffins and Moose (and their respective press corps) file their recaps:

1st period: Grand Rapids dominated the shots taken throughout the period, coming out with a tremendous amount of offensive flow.

The Griffins opened the scoring when Ben Street converted a rebound of a Joe Hicketts shot at 12:40 of the 1st period, giving Grand Rapids a 1-0 lead.

At the time of Street’s goal, Grand Rapids was leading in shots 17-2, but Moose goalie Eric Comrie stood tall in the Manitoba crease.

Ultimately, Grand Rapids out-shot Manitoba 20-8 in a lopsided first period.

2nd period: The Moose came out hard and received a reward for their heavy play, going to the power play at 5:14, and while the Griffins killed the Moose’s advantage, a combination of faceoff losses by the Griffins and sustained pressure by the Moose seemed like it would inevitably break through, but Tom McCollum held the fort…

9:01 into the 2nd period, Francis Beauvillier boarded Robbie Russo, and the Griffins received an opportunity to shift momentum back to their side.

Grand Rapids was unable to convert, but their level of play rose to the point that the game was played evenly by both competing teams.

The Moose ended up out-shooting Grand Rapids 16-8 in the 2nd, and shots were 28-24 Grand Rapids after 2, with the Griffins’ margin of error at 1-0.

3rd period: Both teams played excellent hockey from the get-go, challenging each other to raise their respective tempos and intensities as the period progressed.

However, the Moose were able to tie the game off a point shot, with Jan Kostalek intercepting a Robbie Russo pass and blasting a shot through traffic–and off Griffins captain Matt Ford–to beat Tom McCollum at 6:22.

The Moose pushed to score a second goal after netting their first, and the Griffins’ defense, including Joe Hicketts, made some big blocks to help stem the bleeding.

Wild action followed:

Griffins announcer Bob Kaser suggested that the 2-1 goal was tipped by Luke Esposito, but the scorer credited Elson from Lashoff and Esposito…

And 31 seconds later, it was 2-2.

The Griffins had their chances, but Comrie and McCollum were both excellent in their respective goal creases…

(Comrie stopped Matt Ford as he split the defense)

And things took a turn for the worse as Dylan McIlrath headed off for tripping at 17:25:

And the shit hit the fan:

So Grand Rapids did what it could to rally for a tie…

The Moose iced the puck immediately, and Grand Rapids got a faceoff deep with 41 seconds remaining…

Grand Rapids won the faceoff, and the Griffins got a one-timer tipped in front of Comrie, but the Moose goaltender made the stop…

The Griffins lost the next faceoff as Manitoba got away with a disputed penalty, and Grand Rapids could not salvage a tie:

Three third-period goals surrendered, as the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner noted:

Grand Rapids out-shot Winnipeg 36-31, with Tom McCollum stopping 28 shots.

Update #1: Here’s a short Canadian Press recap:

Michael Spacek’s power-play goal late in the third period lifted the Manitoba Moose over the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 on Saturday afternoon in Game 1 of their American Hockey League playoff series.

Jan Kostalek and Mike Sgarbossa scored earlier in the third period as Manitoba, the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, rallied to the win. Eric Comrie made 33 saves for the win.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is in Winnipeg on Sunday.

Ben Street and Turner Elson helped Grand Rapids build a 2-1 lead by the 12:41 mark of the third period. Tom McCollum stopped 28 shots in net.

The Moose were 1 for 3 on the power play and the Griffins could not score on their three man advantages.

Update #2: Here’s more from the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner:

Manitoba’s Michael Spacek scored with 1:09 left Saturday to give the Moose its first lead of the game en route to a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals.

Spacek’s power play goal, with Dylan McIlrath in the penalty box for tripping, was part of a three-goal third period for the Moose captured the postseason opener in Winnipeg.

The Griffins, who dominated in the first period, got goals from Ben Street in the first and Turner Elson in the third.

“Have to give them a bit of credit, they got a few pucks through in the third when we were trying to hold the lead,” Street said. “I think the big difference is they capitalized on a power play opportunity and we didn’t tonight.

“A lot of time special teams are real important in the playoffs and that was the case tonight.”

The teams meet again 3 p.m. Sunday before the series moves to Grand Rapids at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Wallner continues

Update #3: Here’s the Griffins website’s recap:


Calder Cup Playoffs – Central Division Semifinals – Game 1 – Manitoba Leads Series, 1-0

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 at Manitoba Moose 3

April 21, 2018

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Michael Spacek’s power play goal with 1:09 remaining on Saturday gave the Manitoba Moose their only lead of the game, and the home team held on to steal a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins and grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.

A tripping penalty sent Dylan McIlrath to the box with 2:35 remaining, and Spacek made the Griffins pay by one-timing a Nic Petan feed past Tom McCollum from the left circle. Manitoba’s win broke several streaks for the defending Calder Cup champions, who had won nine straight first-round contests, five consecutive games at Bell MTS Place, five games in a row against the Moose and four straight playoff series openers.

Grand Rapids, which rallied to win two of the previous three best-of-five series in which it lost Game 1, will get right back at it on Sunday in Winnipeg when Game 2 starts at 3 p.m. EDT.

The Griffins built a commanding 16-2 lead in shots over the opening 12-plus minutes but were thwarted time and again by Moose netminder Eric Comrie, who was called into action following Friday’s recall of Second Team AHL All-Star Michael Hutchinson to the Winnipeg Jets. Grand Rapids finally broke through on its 17th attempt, when Ben Street won a faceoff back to Joe Hicketts, collected the puck after Hicketts’ shot hit traffic near the bottom of the right circle and snapped a shot off the left post and into the net at the 12:42 mark.

Manitoba was fortunate to escape the first period with that 1-0 deficit after being outshot 20-8, as the Griffins’ total fell one shy of their franchise playoff record for shots in a road period. Comrie’s 19 stops, meanwhile, tied Grand Rapids’ postseason mark for opponent saves during a single road frame.

The Moose turned the tables on Grand Rapids in the second period, doubling up the visitors in the shot department to the tune of 16-8, but this time it was McCollum’s turn to shine. McCollum stopped all 24 shots he faced through the opening 40 minutes, protecting the Griffins’ one-goal margin entering the third period.

Manitoba spoiled McCollum’s bid for the Griffins’ first postseason shutout in five years with 13:38 remaining in the third, when Jan Kostalek’s blast from the point changed direction off Matthew Ford and snuck past McCollum’s stick. Including the regular season, that goal snapped the Griffins’ shutout streak at Bell MTS Place at an incredible 225:29, or more than 11 full periods.

The teams then traded goals in a span of just 31 seconds. Turner Elson gave Grand Rapids the 2-1 advantage, going top-shelf on a sharp-angle shot from the left side at 12:41, but Cameron Schilling quickly answered on shot from the right point with 6:48 remaining.

Following Spacek’s goal, the Griffins pulled McCollum for the extra attacker but could not manage the equalizer. Comrie finished with 34 saves while McCollum answered with 28.

Notes: Elson, Corey Elkins, Luke Esposito, Matt Puempel and Dominik Shine all made their Griffins playoff debuts…Twelve members of Grand Rapids’ 2017 Calder Cup championship squad skated in this contest.

Three Stars: 1. MB Comrie (W, 34 saves); 2. MB Spacek (game-winning goal); 3. GR McCollum (L, 28 saves)

The Griffins’ website also posted a photo gallery, a highlight clip and an interview clip:

Update #4: The Manitoba Moose’s website posted a recap, photo gallery, and highlight clip…

As well as post-game comments from Eric Comrie, Michael Spacek, Cameron Schilling and coach Pascal Vincent

Update #5: The Winnipeg Sun, Illegal Curve and the Winnipeg Free Press’s Mike McIntyre (subscriber only; ditto for his sidebar story) wrote recaps from the Jets’ perspective).

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

One thought on “Grand Rapids Griffins lose 3-2 to Moose in opener of best-of-5 1st-round series”

  1. Ouch! Give up the lead allowing 3 goals in the 3rd. Sort of sounds like the Red Wings. Hope not!

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