Griffins Fall 4-0 in Rockford, Will Learn First-Round Opponent
ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford IceHogs used a trio of third-period goals in a 3:59 span and a 31-save shutout from Mac Carruth to defeat the Grand Rapids Griffins 4-0 on Friday at BMO Harris Bank Center.
The Griffins return to Van Andel Arena on Saturday to wrap up the regular season against the Bakersfield Condors at 7 p.m. If Grand Rapids defeats Bakersfield and the IceHogs lose in regulation at home against Milwaukee, the Griffins will claim the third seed in the Central Division and face second-place Lake Erie in the best-of-five division semifinals. Any other result from either game would see Grand Rapids finish in fourth place and take on division champion Milwaukee in the opening round.
Nick Mattson drew first blood for Rockford (39-22-10-4) with 8:43 remaining in the opening period. Mark McNeill's pass from near the left corner reached Mattson in stride at the left point for a one-timer past a screened Jared Coreau high to the glove side for his first AHL goal.
The Griffins (44-29-1-1) came the closest to scoring in the second stanza, nearly tying the game at the 11-minute mark on an eventual 3-on-1 when Anthony Mantha's pass from the right circle found a trailing Mark Zengerle in the slot for a shot that went off the left arm of Carruth.
Ville Pokka added to Rockford's lead 28 seconds into the final frame. After Vincent Hinostroza's attempt from near the right point was blocked in front by the left toe of Nick Jensen, Pokka was alone at the bottom of the left circle to lift the rebound into an empty cage.
Tanner Kero gave the IceHogs a three-goal cushion at the 3:25 mark of the third. Kyle Baun gained the zone on the left wing and chipped a pass to Kero for a breakaway, moving to his backhand and sliding the puck between the pads of Coreau.
McNeill scored a fourth goal on the power play 1:02 later. Pokka's initial effort from the left circle deflected off the stick of Brian Lashoff before reaching McNeill in the slot for a turnaround shot through the five-hole.
Rockford ended the night 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Griffins were unable to cash in on six opportunities. Coreau turned away 23 of 27 shots in defeat.
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