Admirals Score Four in Second Period, Top Griffins 6-3
MILWAUKEE - Martin Frk's goal from a tight angle gave the Grand Rapids Griffins a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but the Milwaukee Admirals responded with four unanswered tallies en route to a 6-3 decision on Sunday at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
Despite the setback, Grand Rapids remains atop the Central Division standings, leading the Chicago Wolves by one point with a game in hand. The Griffins return to Van Andel Arena on Friday to begin another three-in-three weekend as they face the Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m.
Eric Tangradi started the scoring for the Griffins (40-18-1-4) 3:31 into the opening period. On his off-wing, Tangradi gained the zone and ripped a shot from the top of the right circle past the catching glove of Marek Mazanec into the top left corner.
Mike Borkowski thought he gave the visitors a two-goal edge with just over four minutes left in the first frame after swatting a rebound out of mid-air near crossbar height, but was ruled to have knocked the puck into the net with a high stick. Nearly 90 seconds later, Milwaukee (37-21-3-3) responded when Matt White received Pontus Aberg's looping stretch pass before opening up Eddie Pasquale's five-hole to even the score at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
Frk put the Griffins back in front 1:10 into the middle period when he played a carom out of the right corner and banked a sharp-angle shot off the right arm of Mazanec and in, tying Ben Street with his 23rd goal of the campaign
Milwaukee stormed back with four answered goals in the second frame, holding Grand Rapids to two shots on net for the remainder of the period after Frk's tally. Vladislav Kamenev restored parity at the 4:01 mark when he capitalized on a communication breakdown behind the Grand Rapids net, blocking Pasquale's clearing attempt before working his way in front and steering the puck into an open net.
The Admirals took their first lead of the contest with nearly nine minutes gone. After Pasquale fought off Andrew O'Brien's initial effort from the point, Anthony Richard raced in front to bury the rebound inside the left post.
The hosts capitalized on an odd-man rush to take a 4-2 lead when Richard found a trailing Frederick Gaudreau in the high slot for a wrist shot inside the left post at the 18:52 mark. Richard completed his Gordie Howe hat trick three seconds later when he and Matt Lorito dropped the gloves. Milwaukee added a fifth goal on the power play when Trevor Smith threw a backhanded pass through the slot to Aberg at the left circle for a one-timer into an empty net with 2.7 seconds remaining.
The Griffins controlled the momentum to begin the final frame, outshooting Milwaukee 9-0 for the opening 9:46, but couldn't put anything past Mazanec until Tangradi gained control of a bouncing puck at the left circle and lifted a wrist shot into the top left corner with 7:32 to play. Adam Payerl wrapped up the scoring with an empty-netter with 14.8 seconds on the clock.
The Admirals finished 1-for-2 on the power play while the Griffins were unable to cash in on three opportunities. Mazanec turned away 27 shots to earn the victory as Pasquale blocked 26 in his first defeat in four starts against Milwaukee this season.
Notes: Dominik Shine made his professional debut for the Griffins on Sunday...Street played in his 350th AHL game...Matthew Ford and Frk logged their 550th and 250th professional games, respectively...With the secondary assist on Frk's goal, Joe Hicketts became the 11th Grand Rapids skater to register 30 or more points this season...White's goal snapped Pasquale's 140:42 shutout streak against the Admirals, dating back to the 18:46 mark of the third period during the initial meeting of the season on Nov. 12.
Three Stars: 1. MIL Richard (goal, assist); 2. MIL Mike Ribeiro (two assists); 3. MIL O'Brien (assist)
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