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 Grand Rapids Griffins

Griffins' Home Playoff Debut Spoiled by Rockford

May 1, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

Grand Rapids Griffins' 	Joel L'Esperance and Amadeus Lombardi versus Rockford IceHogs' Wyatt Kaiser
Grand Rapids Griffins' Joel L'Esperance and Amadeus Lombardi versus Rockford IceHogs' Wyatt Kaiser
(Grand Rapids Griffins, Credit: Mark Newman/Griffins)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Following the Grand Rapids Griffins' opening goal, the Rockford IceHogs netted five consecutive tallies to secure a 5-1 win in Game 2 of the Central Division Semifinals at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, tying the best-of-five series at one game apiece.

The Griffins will host Game 3 on Friday at 7 p.m. before the series returns to Rockford for Game 4 on Sunday at 5 p.m. EDT.

Austin Czarnik scored his first goal of these playoffs to give the Griffins the lead midway through the first period, when he whistled a rebound of a Carter Mazur shot through the five-hole of Drew Commesso from the right circle at 10:52. Rockford's revenge came only 55 seconds later, though, as Ethan Del Mastro's bullet from just inside the blue line flew past Sebastian Cossa and into the back of the net with 8:13 remaining in the frame.

The IceHogs stole momentum and the lead with a buzzer-beating power-play goal at 19:59. Mike Hardman deflected home Rem Pitlick's one-timer from the top of the right circle for the first of his two goals on the night.

Michal Teply made it a 3-1 game early in the second period, ripping a shot inside the far post from the left circle at 1:25.

For the second straight contest the Griffins trailed by two entering the third period, but this time they could not mount a comeback. Another Hardman goal off a deflection pushed Rockford's advantage to 4-1 at 4:17, and a late Grand Rapids penalty led to a second man-advantage tally for the IceHogs, with Luke Philp netting the final marker with 4:26 remaining.


- The Griffins entered the night 2-0 all time at home against the IceHogs in the playoffs, having only previously faced them in the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals.

- The four-goal margin of defeat and five consecutive goals allowed each tied a Griffins record for a home playoff game. Grand Rapids suffered three prior four-goal defeats at Van Andel Arena in the postseason, most recently 5-1 to Manitoba on April 30, 2018, and surrendered five straight goals at home just once before, in a 5-1 loss to Chicago on April 15, 2002.

Box Score

Rockford 2 1 2 - 5

Grand Rapids 1 0 0 - 1

1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Czarnik 1 (Mazur, Berggren), 10:52. 2, Rockford, Del Mastro 1 (Reichel), 11:47. 3, Rockford, Hardman 1 (Pitlick, Kaiser), 19:59 (PP). Penalties-Strand Rfd (high-sticking), 2:09; Dach Rfd (roughing, roughing), 12:46; Johansson Gr (roughing, holding), 12:46; Shine Gr (tripping), 19:29.

2nd Period-4, Rockford, Teplý 2 (Phillips), 1:25. Penalties-Pitlick Rfd (high-sticking), 11:17; Teplý Rfd (hooking), 19:03.

3rd Period-5, Rockford, Hardman 2 (Roos, Philp), 4:17. 6, Rockford, Philp 1 (Hardman, Pitlick), 15:34 (PP). Penalties-Mazur Gr (tripping, misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:14.

Shots on Goal-Rockford 9-8-8-25. Grand Rapids 10-8-10-28.

Power Play Opportunities-Rockford 2 / 2; Grand Rapids 0 / 3.

Goalies-Rockford, Commesso 1-0 (28 shots-27 saves). Grand Rapids, Cossa 1-1 (25 shots-20 saves).


Three Stars

1. RFD Hardman (two goals, assist); 2. RFD Commesso (W, 27 saves); 3. RFD Philp (goal, assist)

Record / Next Game

Grand Rapids: 37-23-8-4 (86 pts.) / Central Division Semifinals Game 3 / Fri., May 3 vs. Rockford 7 p.m.

Rockford: 39-26-5-2 (85 pts.) / Central Division Semifinals Game 2 / Fri., May 3 at Grand Rapids 6 p.m CDT

Images from this story

Grand Rapids Griffins' 	Joel L'Esperance and Amadeus Lombardi versus Rockford IceHogs' Wyatt Kaiser
Grand Rapids Griffins' Joel L'Esperance and Amadeus Lombardi versus Rockford IceHogs' Wyatt Kaiser

(Mark Newman/Griffins)

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