Axel Holmstrom scored his first professional goal, which happened to be the game winner, in Overtime to lift the Griffins to a 2-1 win over the Manitoba Moose. The victory also snaps the Griffins four game losing streak, which was their longest of the season.
With the win last night, Grand Rapids moved one point ahead of the Chicago Wolves in the Central Division with five game remaining in the regular season. The Griffins record now stands at 44-22-1-4 . They will return home for a Friday night showdown with the Cleveland Monsters who are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Central Division.
The Griffins had a hard time getting many open looks in the first period even though they held a sizeable adavantage in pace of play. Axel Homstrom nearly scored a goal when he gained control of a loose puck only for his shot to clang off the left post. Matt Lorito also had two great opportunites to put the Griffins on the board. His first shot hit the glove of Moose goalie Jamie Phillips and he gathered the rebound for another shot that was juggled and then frozen by the goaltender.
The score would remain 0-0 after the opening period. The Moose would strike first when Scott Kosmachuk scored his second goal in as many nights on a sharp angle shot that beat Jared Coreau.
Back from his short stint with the Detroit Red Wings, Evgeny Svechnikov evened the score at 1-1 on a power play goal. Axel Holmstrom sent a pass to Svhecnikov at the right circle and he fired a shot past Phillips for the goal. The assist by Holmstrom was his first professional point. The Griffins again controlled the second period holding a 22-7 advantage in shots.
The third period saw a few scoring chances from both teams but Coreau and Phillips were up to the challange. The Griffins once again outshot the Moose 9-7 in a scoreless third period.
The Griffins came out with Ford, Criscuolo, and Hicketts while the Moose entered OT with Dan DeSalvo, Jimmy Lodge, and Brenden Kichton. Manitoba nearly ended the game when DeSalvo’s wrist shot hit the left post, just missing the net.
Evgeny Svechnikov gained the offensive zone before sending a backhand pass to a wide open Holmstrom for a shot that hit the back bar of the goal before bouncing back out. The officials reviewed the play but the goal stood.
The Griffins finished 1-of-6 on the power play and the Moose came up empty on three attempts. Jared Coreau was solid again in goal stopping 20 of 21 shots, earning his 17th win of the season.