Five in a row for Grand Rapids
The Griffins have picked 10 points with 5 wins in the last 5 games, the best streak in a while for the team. The streak started on their trip to Texas last weekend, when they beat the Texas Stars 4-1 and the Houston Aeros 2-1 on Sunday in a shoot out.
The streak continued when the team took care of Milwaukee 4-2 at home on a Wednesday morning game then ousted Rockford on Friday night with a 5-3 win. The team was close to beating Milwaukee and Rockford in their first meetings of the year but could not pull off the wins. This time the team looked more determined than ever to get wins on home ice. The week finished off with a big comeback 5-3 win on a short road trip to Peoria. The Griffins are currently in first place in their division with a 7-4-1-1 record.
The players are really coming together well under coach Blashill. The passing game has been great. They are finding good holes in the defense and capitalizing. Goaltender #34 Petr Mrazek was in net for 4 out of the 5 wins. He is recording one of the best rookie starts for the Griffins as a goaltender. With Mrazek in goal the team has become more confident in their own zone allowing for more offensive opportunities. #30 Tom McCollum tended net for the comeback Saturday. He had a real shaky start letting 2 goals past him in the first period. McCollum looked as though he was hesitating on his movement which allowed for the goals. As his confidence grew throughout the second and third period he finished the game strong with some great saves.
Two players finding their own with the Griffins are #19 Riley Sheahan and #14 Chad Billins.
Billins who signed a one year pro contract right out of Ferris State in 2012 is playing defense and has already accumulated 12 points for the year. He is quick on his feet and handles the puck well. He knows when to pinch the line and protects the slot. The other players do not hesitate to throw the puck back to him in either the defensive zone or the offensive zone. He has a strong wrist shot from the point and is giving the forwards something to work with in the crease. I look for Billins to be one of the defensive leaders this year and look forward to him moving up in his career when needed.
Sheahan Detroit’s 1st choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft played 7 games for Grand Rapids and recorded 1 point and played 1 game for Detroit last year. We are lucky to have him with the team this year. The 6-2 212 lb forward is no slouch on the ice. Along with playing forward he has also played defense on special teams. Sheahan had 2 goals and an assist in Fridays match up with Rockford and has already racked up 4 points this season. As long as the lockout continues he will be a great asset to the team.
The Griffins definitely need work on special teams. They have had many opportunities on the power play but cannot seem to get play slowed down and setup to make the good shots. Though they have had some goals against on the penalty kill they seem to control the puck well. Looks like coach Blashill is trying some different line setups and may get this fine tuned in the near future.
The Griffins will only have 2 games in the next two weeks with an away game Friday the 16th in Cleveland against Lake Erie and then will host the Chicago Wolves for Friday after Thanksgiving game. There is some great hockey going on in Grand Rapids. For those that want some great entertainment come on down to the Van Andel and enjoy. We look for more wins real soon.