Recap: Griffins double up Admirals, sweep weekend home-and-home series

The Grand Rapids Griffins spent New Year’s Eve on a bus, driving from Grand Rapids to Milwaukee to face the Admirals on Saturday night, and the Griffins defeated Milwaukee for the second time in two nights on Saturday, riding a 4-goal 2nd period to a 4-2 victory.

Taro Hirose had 2 goals and an assist, Riley Barber had 2 assists, Kyle Criscuolo had 2 assists and Donovan Sebrango scored his first AHL goal, with Calvin Pickard pitching a 33-save effort.

The Griffins’ website posted a recap:

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 at Milwaukee Admirals 2

Jan. 1, 2022

MILWAUKEE – A four-goal second period highlighted by Donovan Sebrango’s first AHL tally and Taro Hirose’s two-goal frame helped propel the Grand Rapids Griffins past the Milwaukee Admirals 4-2 on New Year’s Day at Panther Arena.

The Griffins were undermanned for the second consecutive contest, as the team suited up with just 16 skaters due to COVID-19 protocols and injuries. Hirose led all players with a career-tying three-point (2-1—3) outing while Riley Barber (0-2—2) and Kyle Criscuolo (0-2—2) joined the forward with multiple scores. Grand Rapids now has points in the past five contests against Milwaukee (4-0-1-0).

It was a slow-moving first period for the Griffins, as they were outshot 9-0 in the opening eight minutes of play. Netminder Calvin Pickard was called upon to make some timely saves throughout the frame and ended the first with 17 stops in his 21st game of the season.

Grand Rapids received its first power play of the evening at 12:55, but it was Milwaukee who scored a shorthanded attempt 47 seconds into the penalty. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Mitch McLain skated out on a 2-on-1 break. McLain marched his way to the bottom of the left circle and snapped a sharp-angled shot that sailed over the right shoulder of Pickard to give the home team a 1-0 advantage. This goal marked just the third tally given up by the Griffins in the past seven first periods.

The middle frame was controlled by Grand Rapids, as the franchise posted four unanswered goals scored by three different skaters.

The Griffins recorded their fastest tally to begin the period when Hirose notched his fifth of the year 58 seconds into the frame. Dan Renouf fired a wrister from the slot that was kicked away by goaltender Devin Cooley and slid to the right post. Hirose was in the right place at the right time to clean up the play and tapped the puck into the net.

Hirose was not done yet, as the former Michigan State Spartan collected his second of the contest at the 4:06 mark to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead, tying his career best for goals in a game. From the right circle, Criscuolo feathered a pass to the slot where Hirose took control of the disc. The Calgary, Alberta, native wrapped his shot around the blocker of Cooley and gave the Griffins their first lead of the night. Criscuolo’s second assist of the contest pushed his career-high point streak to nine games (7-10—17), which includes six multi-point outings.

A nifty passing sequence set up Grand Rapids’ third goal with 12:52 remaining in the second. Hirose in the high slot found a streaking Barber near the bottom of the right circle. Barber then slipped the puck across the goal mouth to a charging Sebrango. In his second game back from competing with Team Canada in the World Junior Championship, Sebrango calmly placed his shot past the outstretched arm of Cooley for his first pro goal in North America. Barber’s assist extended his point streak to five games (3-3—6).

Ryan Murphy got in on the fun at the 13:56 mark and gave the Griffins a 4-1 advantage over the Admirals. Dominik Shine skated down the left wing on a 2-on-1 advantage and made a quality shot fake to send his defender to the ice. Murphy controlled a cross-zone feed from Shine and hammered a one-timer over the glove of the Milwaukee netminder.

A leisurely start to the final period from both teams saw just four total attempts in the first 10 minutes. However, the Admirals picked up their pace offensively and made it a 4-2 game with 4:22 left. A turnover behind the Griffins’ cage left Pickard out of position. The puck fell to Egor Afanasyev at the right post and he tapped the rubber into the empty net.

Grand Rapids’ penalty kill was tested down the stretch, but the defense held true and took a 4-2 victory over Milwaukee to complete the weekend sweep.

The Griffins also posted a highlight clip and a photo gallery:

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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.

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