DES MOINES, Iowa – The Grand Rapids Griffins got back on track on the road on Friday with a 2-1 victory over the Iowa Wild at Wells Fargo Arena, maintaining their lead over the Midwest Division.
The first period produced relatively even play for both teams, until the last five minutes of the frame when scoring opportunities were exchanged by the Griffins (12-4-1-1) and the Wild (6-9-0-0). As the first frame came to a close, Iowa held a slight 10-9 shot advantage.
After a scoreless first period, Grand Rapids began the second period with consecutive power play opportunities. Both penalties came at the hands of Wild defenseman Steven Kampfer, first on a delay of game call after sending a rogue puck out of play at :23 and second on an elbowing call at 3:05, shortly after Iowa returned to full strength. The Griffins were unable to capitalize on either opportunity.
Deep into the second frame, Griffins right wing Patrick Eaves quickly grabbed the puck off of the face off in the Wild zone. Finding his man, Eaves fed the puck to forward Tomas Jurco who wasted no time in firing a wrist shot that found its way into the net beyond Iowa goaltender Johan Gustafsson at 16:13. The goal marked Jurco’s 10th of the season.
Just over two minutes later, defenseman Xavier Ouellet absorbed a pass from captain Jeff Hoggan amidst a failed Iowa clearing attempt. From the blueline, Ouellet rifled the puck through traffic and straight into the net at 18:16 of the second period, propelling the Griffins to a 2-0 lead.
Grand Rapids held on to its two-goal advantage until Iowa opted for the extra skater with 1:47 remaining in the third period. With just 34 to go in the game, Wild left wing Brett Bulmer broke Petr Mrazek’s near-second consecutive shutout and gave Iowa an opportunity to tie the game, with the score now standing at 2-1.
However, Grand Rapids held on to its lead and killed off the remaining few seconds of the game, improving its record to 8-2-1-1 away from Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins will face the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena tomorrow night at 8 p.m. EST before returning home to Van Andel Arena next week for a seven-game home stand, the team’s longest of the season.
Three Stars: 1. GR Mrazek (31 saves); 2. GR Jurco (one goal); 3. IA Gustafsson (20 saves)