GRAND RAPIDS, Mich – Ask any player, they will tell you that the beginning and ending of the season is the most energizing. The intensity level remains high as February is like a play-off month for the Oklahoma City Barons who are trying to advance to the play-offs. The Griffins, on the other hand, have to keep the focus level up, maintaining their spot in the Midwest Division.
Saturday night at Van Andel Arena 8,254 fans witnessed the Griffins end a six-game home losing streak, taking the Barons 4-3 in regulation. The loss snapped an eight-game winning run for the Barons.
Barons Coach Todd Nelson thought they had a good third period, battling back, “It was a good hockey game, always an exciting game when we play against Grand Rapids. We had a good third period but it’s always tough to win 2 in a row. It’s our play-off month, we’re fighting to get to the play-offs. For teams like ourselves, we know we have to play desperate hockey”.
Eighteen seconds into the first, Barons take a shot from the blue line that bounces into Griffins goal after bobbling on a number of sticks. C.J. Stretch gets the goal, assisted by David Musil. Griffins respond, tying the game at 7:02 with a power play goal by Mitch Callahan. The Barons are quickly back on top as Mark Arcobello threads a perfect pass to the front of net to Steve Pinizzotto for the goal at 8:30 giving them a one goal lead at the end the first period.
Leading the Griffins in scoring, Mitch Callahan scores again in the second period to even up the score at 2-2, another power play goal at 9:32. “I don’t get the pretty goals like the other guys, getting the hard working ones” says Callahan. Coach Jeff Blashill likes what he sees too. “He (Callahan) can score on any line; he shoots the puck, goes to the net, scores the hard, dirty goals. I thought he looked fast tonight”.
Mark Arcobello scored at 7:45 of the third period to tie the game at 3. Cory Emmerton scored at 13:14 of the third period to give the Grand Rapids Griffins a 4-3 win over the Oklahoma City Barons.
Griffins goalie Petr Mrazek stopped 36 of 39 shots to pick up the win. OKC’s Richard Bachman faced 37 shots, stopping 33.
Notes: Stars of the Game Mitch Callahan, Calle Jarnkrok, Adam Almquist. The Barons’ road trip continues Sunday with a 3 p.m. game at Toronto, Griffins will meet Milwaukee today at 5 p.m. at Van Andel.