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Griffins Fall 5-2 to Rivermen in Regular Season Finale

April 11, 2009 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

PEORIA, Ill. - Jordan Pearce made 33 saves in his professional debut, but the Grand Rapids Griffins dropped a 5-2 decision to the Peoria Rivermen in the regular season finale at Carver Arena on Saturday. Justin Abdelkader and Francis Pare both scored, keeping the two tied for the Griffins record for goals by a rookie.

Abdelkader and Pare both notched their 24th goals of the season in the third period, the only two goals the Griffins scored against former Detroit Red Wing Manny Legace, who finished the game with 32 saves. Joakim Andersson also recorded an assist during his Griffins' debut. Grand Rapids (43-25-6-6) finished the season in third place in the North Division and will travel to Hamilton to take on the Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum on Friday, April 16.

The Rivermen notched the first goal during a 5-on-3 advantage late in the first period. Steve Regier took the puck down to the right corner and centered a pass through the crease. The puck deflected off a Griffins' defenseman and into the net for a 1-0 Peoria lead with 2:42 remaining in the opening period.

Jonas Junland made it 2-0 halfway through the second period with a rebound goal. On an odd-man rush, Regier took a shot from the right side that was turned aside. Tom Galvin slid into Pearce, and Jim Jackson knocked at the puck before Junland poked it home at the 12:47 mark.

Regier picked up his third point of the game when his rink-wide pass in the third period resulted in a goal by Aaron Palushaj at the 4:00 mark. With the puck on the right side of the rink, Regier sent it all the way to Jori Lehtera in the left circle. Lehtera drew the defense over and set up Palushaj, who was wide open on the right side of the net.

Abdelkader broke Legace's shutout with a power-play goal 8:20 into the final period. The rookie set up in the slot, Darren Haydar fed him the puck and Abdelkader's turnaround shot beat Legace to make the score 3-1. Ville Leino had a chance to make it a one-goal game, but his short-handed breakaway was turned aside by Legace and Yan Statsny went the other way and converted for a power-play goal.

Not to be outdone by Abdelkader, Pare scored his 24th of the season on a rebound from a Haydar shot to make the score 4-2 just 14 seconds later. Stastny closed out the scoring with his second of the game, a short-handed goal with 2:32 remaining in the match to finish the game at 5-2 in favor of Peoria.

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