Long weekend for Griffins ends with a positive

The Grand Rapids Griffins had their first three game weekend of the season with Friday and Saturday home games and a short trip to Chicago to finish off the stent.

Friday night the Griffins hosted the Carolina Checkers who are currently in first place in their division. The Griffins started off strong with 2 goals in the first period the first by Tomas Tatar and the second during a delayed penalty call by Louis-Marc  Aubry.  Francis Pare showed his stuff with a goal in the second period taking the team up by three.  Penalties in the 2nd period were too much for the Griffins and were outshot and outscored. The Checkers took advantage of a five minute major on Trevor Parkes for boarding and a call for hooking left the Griffins shorthanded and the goals started trickling in against the team. The Griffins could never recover and lost the game 6-4.

Saturday started the same way Friday’s game did with the team coming on strong in the first period and outshooting and outscoring the Rockford Ice Hogs. Francis Pare and Gustav Nyquist sank shots past their goaltender early in the first period and Trevor Parkers sank a fluttering puck into the net in the latter half of the second period. The Griffins were able to tie up the game late in the third period after the Ice Hogs put the puck in the net earlier in the third to take the lead, with a pretty goal from Tomas Tatar which sent them into overtime. The team was unable to hold off the Ice Hogs in overtime and allowed a goal 0:58 into the overtime to lose their second game of the weekend.

Sunday afternoon paid off for the team when they won in overtime 3-2 against the Chicago Wolves. Nathan Paetsch scored his first goal of the season in the second period. After a two goal run by the Wolves, Jeff Hogan scored to tie the game late in the second period.  With the teams tied up through three the game went into overtime where Tomas Tatar put a pretty backhand shot into the net to give the Griffins the win. The two goals scored against the Griffins were during power plays.

Hopefully injuries will not become an issue as they did near the end of last season. Max Nicastro took a hard elbow in the first period and had trouble coming off the ice. Nicastro did not return to the game.  Nicastro has looked strong in his first games and will be a good addition to the defense. He is a big guy and is strong in his own crease.  No word on Nicastro at this point.

Adam Almquist played his second game of the season on Saturday and again played on Sunday in Chicago. Starting his second season with the team he is fitting in well. The 21 year old defenseman is playing hard.  Almquist is a spit fire, he is all over the ice and is helping to make plays happen. He is young and looks like he will be a great asset to the team this year. Look for more on Almquist as the season continues I am sure he will be putting points on the board.

Though the team is struggling with the penalty kills the Griffs are starting to meld and seem to be working together as a team. Their passing game is looking better than in the past and they are definitely putting more shots on goal.  If they can overcome the few misreads and shake off the goals against them they should begin to put more wins on the board.

The Griffins will be on the road next weekend with a three game run in Texas and return home on November 7th for an 11am Weds game.

I look for the crowds to continue to grow in Hockey town West with the lockout still hanging out there for the NHL.