Griffins Extend Point Streak to Five, Defeat Rockford 4-1
ROCKFORD, Ill. - A 33-save performance by Cal Heeter in his Grand Rapids Griffins debut led the way in a 4-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday at BMO Harris Bank Center.
A three-point (1-2-3) night from Matt Loritohelped him move into a tie for the AHL lead with 14 power play points (4-10-14) and into a three-way tie for second with 24 points (9-15-24). Eric Tangradi also registered a pair of assists in his return after missing 12 games due to injury. The result extends the Griffins' point streak to five straight (3-0-0-2) while the IceHogs remain in last place in the Central Division standings owning a six-game winless streak (0-4-0-2).
Rockford (7-12-1-2) jumped out to an early lead on the power play 5:34 into the contest. Cameron Schilling settled the puck down at the right point and sent a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and into the top left corner.
Mitch Callahan responded for the Griffins (12-6-0-2) 1:28 later. After his initial effort from the point forced a blocker save from Mac Carruth, Callahan raced towards the net to steer the rebound into the open net before the Rockford netminder was able to track the loose puck.
Lorito scored what proved to be the game-winner on the man advantage when he gained the zone on the right wing and worked his way past a sliding Rockford defenseman before lifting a shot past Carruth's glove side shoulder with 3:56 to play in the opening period. The Griffins have scored on the power play in 11 consecutive games to equal the second-longest stretch in franchise history, matching a run lasting from Oct. 15-Nov. 15, 2005.
The IceHogs changed goaltenders to begin the middle frame as Jake Hildebrand made his AHL debut in relief of Carruth. Grand Rapids doubled its lead at the 14:06 mark when Lorito chipped a pass from the top of the right circle to Kyle Criscuolo in the slot, who tucked a shot inside the left post to give the visitors a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
Louis-Marc Aubry provided an insurance goal in the final frame. On an eventual 2-on-1, Lorito fed Aubry in the high slot for a breakaway, moving to the backhand before sliding the puck along the ice between Hildebrand's pads with 3:06 remaining.
Grand Rapids finished 1-for-2 on the power play while Rockford converted on 1-of-5 opportunities. Carruth stopped 9-of-11 shots in defeat before Hildebrand turned aside 19-of-21 shots over the final 40 minutes.
The Griffins wrap up their road trip on Tuesday against the Cleveland Monsters, with puck drop from Quicken Loans Arena set for 7 p.m.
Notes: Jared Coreau became the 158th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, making 32 saves for the Detroit Red Wings in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.
Three Stars: 1. GR Lorito (game-winning goal, two assists); 2. GR Heeter (W, 33 saves); 3. RFD Evan Mosey (one shot)
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