From a prospect development perspective, there’s good news and bad news in the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 7-3 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals.
The good news is that Joe Veleno, who scored a goal in Friday’s home opener, followed his performance with 2 more goals on Saturday; Taro Hirose had 2 assists, as did key Griffins contributor Ryan Murphy, and Riley Barber scored as well.
The not-so-good news is that the Griffins were not able to follow up a 6-1 Friday night performance with anything less than 6 goals tagged on starter Victor Brattstrom (Milwaukee scored their seventh goal into an empty net)…And Veleno, Chase Pearson, Hirose, Barber and Jonatan Berggren all finished at -3, all on a night where 5 Griffins were not minus players.
The Grand Rapids Griffins’ website recapped the up-and-down affair:
Joe Veleno’s two-goal outing fell by the wayside as the Grand Rapids Griffins were upended 7-3 away from home at Panther Arena against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday. This game marked the 193rd meeting between the two teams and the first since the 2019-20 season due to Milwaukee opting out of the shortened 2020-21 campaign.
Veleno now has three goals in two games to start the season, leading the Griffins in goal scoring.
Grand Rapids (1-1-0-0) drew first blood at the 2:40 mark of the opening period before it saw itself in a 5-1 hole heading into the final frame. The Griffins doubled their goal count in the third, but the Admirals (1-0-0-0) matched the tempo and held off the late push from Grand Rapids to take their first victory in 584 days.
Grand Rapids (1-1-0-0) takes on the Manitoba Moose (0-1-0-0) in a two-game road series beginning on Friday at 8 p.m. EDT inside Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Griffins opened up the game early with a power play strike at the 2:40 mark. Chase Pearson stood behind the left post and found Veleno near the top of the crease on a touch pass for a tic-tac-toe goal on Grand Rapids’ first shot of the contest. Going back to Friday’s 6-1 win over Rockford, this tally marked the seventh goal in 25 attempts.
Milwaukee’s Cole Schneider tied the game with 14:42 remaining in the first when he beat the right skate of Griffins’ netminder Victor Brattstrom, who made his North America debut. It was then only a matter of 18 seconds before Schneider was able to net another when he converted a rebound attempt near the right post.
The Admirals extended their lead to two at 13:41 as the Griffins allowed their first power play goal of the year when Matt Luff fired a 45-foot bullet from the right wing that beat the blocker of Brattstrom. Grand Rapids went on the man advantage twice in the final five minutes but were unable to cut into the deficit and headed into the first intermission down by two.
Milwaukee pushed its lead to three when Zach Solow lit the lamp for the first time 4:05 into the second. Joseph LaBate added insult to injury at the 5:31 mark to give the Admirals a commanding 5-1 edge going into the third.
With Grand Rapids looking to secure their first goal after a scoreless 42:54 of play, Ryan Murphy found Veleno near the blue line. Veleno skated through the high slot and sent a wrister from the top of the left circle that zipped past Admirals’ goalie Devin Cooley’s glove to score his second of the game and third of the year with 14:26 left on the clock. Veleno now has bagged 50 points (27-23—50) as a three-year professional.
Milwaukee returned the favor at 8:36 after a Grand Rapids turnover deep in its own zone found Cole Smith between the circles. Smith’s shot was saved by Brattstrom but Mitch McLain cleaned up the loose puck with a tap-in score.
Reigning Griffins point leader, Riley Barber, scored his first goal of the new campaign on a power play opportunity midway through the third period at 11:16. Murphy bagged his second helper of the night when he found Barber on the right wing. Barber threaded the needle over the blocker of Cooley and made it a three-goal game. Murphy’s assist marked his 150th AHL point (22-128—150).
Milwaukee then iced the game after an empty netter by Anthony Richard with 2:10 remaining in the contest.
Brattstrom ended his AHL debut with 24 stops while his counterpart Cooley halted 20 shots. Grand Rapids went 2-for-7 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
The Griffins’ website also posted an 8-image photo gallery from the game, and the Milwaukee Admirals’ YouTube channel provides the highlights: