[Before I get into the details of the game it is necessary that we address a serious and frightening occurrence at the game. With 6:19 remaining in the second period, Griffins forward Alden Hirschfeld suffered a seizure on the Griffins bench. It happened so quickly that fans did not actually know what was going on. One moment the play was in action and a split second later paramedics and medical staff were rushing with a stretcher toward the Griffins bench. You can follow the story on the Griffins webpage by following this link. We all wish Alden the very best for a speedy recovery and look forward to his return to the ice.]
The Grand Rapids Griffins continued their climb up the AHL charts last night with a 4 – 2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals. After what was a very inauspicious start to the season, the Griffins have come together under new bench boss Todd Nelson and climbed to the #4 slot in the AHL Western Conference and #7 overall. This game marked the Griffins 12th consecutive home win and their 18th win in the past 21 games played. All of this while having some critical team talent, such as Nick Jensen, Xavier Ouellet, Triston Grant, Andreas Athanasiou, Daniel Cleary, and Mitch Callahan, scratched due to injury.
The action started rapidly at 2:33 when Griffin Captain Jeff Hoggan (named this week as the Captain of the 2016 AHL All-Star game), managed to steal the puck from Milwaukee and pass it to Tomas Nosek who sent an explosive shot past Admiral goalie Marek Mazanec.
Ten minutes later, Tyler Bertuzzi passed a beauty to wide-open Martin Frk who rocketed his 11th season goal past Mazanec in the waning seconds of a power play created when Admiral left-wing Jamie Devane went down for interference.
Not known as a team who goes down without a fight, Milwaukee rallied a shot. With just :33 to go in the period, Pontus Aberg (assists: Gortz, Fiala) got one passed Griffin goaltender Jared Coreau and the period closed, Griffins 2 Milwaukee 1.
When the teams returned to the ice for the second period, Grand Rapids remained on the offensive and continued to control the game. When a battle for the puck ensued behind the Admiral net, Griffins Hirschfeld and Nastasiuk managed to maintain the ultimate control. Nastasiak then managed a clean pass to Nathan Paetsch who saw the light in the window and slipped the puck in past Mazanec at 3:49.
Barely a scant two minutes later at 5:56 Nathan Paetsch (assists: Aubry, Frk) widened the gap for the Griffins further when he snuck a shot into the goal between Mazanec’s pads. The Griffins went up 4 – 1.
All remained quiet until 13:41 when Alden Hirschfeld suffered a medical emergency on the bench. The delay of game lasted several minutes as he was attended to on the Griffins bench. Upon the end of the emergency, it was announced that both teams would remain in the locker rooms while the ice was resurfaced. When play finally resumed it was to complete the last 6:19 of the second period, followed by a one-minute intermission and dry scrape of the ice, and the completion of the third period.
Despite the trauma of the emergency that incapacitated their teammate, the Griffins remained attentive throughout the remainder of the game. Finally, at the 16:12 mark, the Admirals saw another opportunity to redeem themselves when Cody Bass took a pass from Garrett Noonan and squeaked a slider past the far post. The Griffins remained strong however, and the game ended at 9:46pm before a crowd of over 7,500 people with the Griffins taking the win 4 – 2.
Admirals netminder Mazanec took 28 shots on goal, saving 24 and allowing 4, while Griffin goalie Coreau fielded 33 shots with 31 saves and two goals.