Petr Mrazek Earns First Pro Shutout
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A week that began with Petr Mrazek claiming the win in his maiden AHL All-Star Game appearance concluded with him earning his first professional shutout, as the rookie made 32 saves to backstop the Grand Rapids Griffins' 1-0 victory over the Abbotsford Heat on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
Adam Almquist scored the game's only goal late in the opening period, then he sacrificed his body by sliding to block Brett Carson's slap shot as time expired to put an exclamation point on the Midwest Division leaders' triumph over the Heat, the top team in the North Division.
Abbotsford (23-15-3-4) boasts the AHL's top two goalies, both of whom Mrazek has now beaten on his home ice. Second-ranked Danny Taylor stopped 22 shots in tonight's goaltending duel, after relieving No. 1-ranked Barry Brust in Grand Rapids' 5-2 win on Dec. 21.
Almquist's goal came with 38 seconds remaining in the opening period, six seconds after his own tripping penalty expired. Upon exiting the penalty box, he collected a clearing pass from Chad Billins along the right boards, sped into the Heat's zone on a 2-on-1 with Francis Pare and patiently waited until the bottom of the circle before ripping a short-side shot past Taylor.
The Griffins were outshot 26-10 over the final 40 minutes, by margins of 13-4 in the second period and 13-6 in the third, but Mrazek held strong to record the first shutout by a Griffins rookie since Jordan Pearce's 36-save effort in a 3-0 win at Peoria on March 8, 2011.
Grand Rapids (26-14-2-2), which increased its division lead to nine points over Chicago, will take aim at its third straight win when Houston pays a 7 p.m. visit on Wednesday.
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