GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday earned their 17th win in the last 20 games and finished their longest homestand of the season with a 6-1 mark, courtesy of a 5-0 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena.
Cory Emmerton scored twice en route to a four-point night while Tom McCollum stopped 31 shots to claim his first shutout of the season and improve his personal record to 9-3.
The Griffins, whose 19-5-1-1 mark represents the best start in franchise history, will play their first road game since Nov. 23 on Wednesday when they visit the Iowa Wild at 8:05 p.m. EST.
Fresh off a 4-2 victory over the Admirals last night, the Griffins wasted little time in building another two-goal lead on their Midwest Division rival. Emmerton, in his first game back since being reassigned by the Detroit Red Wings, took a pass from Teemu Pulkkinen in the high slot and ripped a shot over Magnus Hellberg’s blocker just 2:58 into the contest. Calle Jarnkrok followed up 2:24 later, sailing a shot into the other corner of Hellberg’s net from the right circle.
Jordin Tootoo and Milwaukee’s Michael Liambas watched half of the opening period from the penalty box, as they engaged in bouts just 26 seconds into the game and at the 10:54 mark. It marked a carryover of the bad blood from Friday’s clash that saw a total of three fights, including one between Liambas and Triston Grant.
The Admirals (12-7-4-1) received a four-minute power play with 4:40 left before intermission, courtesy of simultaneous hooking and slashing calls on Tomas Jurco, but the Griffins killed it off to maintain their 2-0 cushion through 20 minutes.
Grand Rapids again struck twice in the early going of the second period to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Landon Ferraro set up between the hashmarks and redirected a feed from Alexey Marchenko with the heel of his stick, sending the puck just inside the left post at 3:21. Emmerton then tallied shorthanded for his second goal of the night at 5:02, after a puck-handling flub by Hellberg resulted in Ferraro leaving the puck in the left circle for Emmerton, who blasted it inside the far post.
McCollum preserved the four-goal cushion with 5:20 left in the period, thwarting a shorthanded breakaway by Kevin Henderson, before also stopping all 12 Admirals shots in the third period.
With 4:06 left in the game, Andrej Nestrasil scored during a goal-mouth scramble to round out the scoring against Hellberg, who finished with 23 saves.
In their last three wins over Milwaukee, all at home, the Griffins have outscored the Admirals by a 14-2 margin, including a pair of 5-0 thrashings.
Notes: Pulkkinen has points in a team-high seven straight games…In Griffins history, the only run better than the current 17-3 streak was an 18-3 mark between Nov. 24, 2000 and Jan. 12, 2001…McCollum’s 54th career win tied him with Marc Lamothe for fourth place on the Griffins’ all-time list, one behind Mike Fountain. In addition, his four career shutouts tie Jani Hurme and Martin Prusek for seventh all time…The Griffins wore commemorative jerseys in honor of the Grand Rapids Owls, the IHL team that played at Stadium Arena from 1977-80, and auctioned them to fans after the game. The Owls’ 1978-79 squad posted a remarkable 50-21-9 record before losing in the Turner Cup Finals to Kalamazoo in seven games.
Three Stars: 1. GR Emmerton (two goals, two assists); 2. GR McCollum (W, 31 saves, SO); 3. GR Pulkkinen (two assists)