GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Down 1-0 midway through the opening period, the Grand Rapids Griffins exploded for six unanswered goals to tame the Iowa Wild by a 6-1 count on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Cory Emmerton led the way with three points, Trevor Parkes notched the first two-goal game of his AHL career, and Petr Mrazek denied 34 shots to improve to 11-1 in his last 12 decisions and lower his league-best goals against average to an even 2.00.
Grand Rapids (44-20-2-4), which posted its third straight win overall and its sixth victory in the last seven games at home, increased its lead in the Midwest Division race to seven points over idle Chicago with six games remaining. The Griffins will complete their brief home stand by hosting the Hamilton Bulldogs for a Friday-Saturday set. Faceoff each night is 7 p.m.
Playing his first pro game since finishing his season at Colorado College, Gustav Olofsson struck first for Iowa (26-32-6-4) during a power play at 11:25 of the first. Left alone in the high slot, Olofsson took a pass on his backhand and had time to switch to his forehand before threading a shot between Mrazek’s blocker and the left post.
It took the Griffins just 2:31 to answer. Adam Almquist’s cannon from above the right circle was denied by Johan Gustafsson, but Parkes was waiting on the doorstep to quickly bang the rebound home.
The Griffins momentarily appeared to have taken the upper hand on a power play goal with 3:59 remaining – on a play that left Mitch Callahan bleeding and missing a number of teeth after taking a puck to his face while screening Gustafsson – but it was waved off due to incidental goaltender interference. Callahan skated off under his own power but did not return, as he was taken to a hospital for examination.
Undeterred, Grand Rapids scored an even-strength goal that counted less than a minute later, as Martin Frk took a pass from Andrei Nestrasil in the left circle and ripped the puck into the net at 16:43 to give the home team a 2-1 lead.
Jordin Tootoo pushed the margin to two at the 4:36 mark of the second period, launching a routine wrist shot from the point that managed to slip through Gustafsson. That stood up as the only goal of the frame despite Iowa’s 16-5 advantage in shots.
Louis-Marc Aubry padded the Griffins’ cushion 5:51 into the third, digging the puck out of a goal-mouth scrum and popping it into the top of the net, before Parkes scored his second of the night from the slot at 7:30 to make it a 5-1 contest.
The offensive avalanche was capped off at 12:20 when Emmerton tallied his third point of the night and 15th goal of the season by beating Gustafsson, who finished the evening with 28 saves.
Three Stars: 1. GR Emmerton (goal, two assists); 2. GR Parkes (two goals); 3. GR Mrazek (W, 34 saves)