[From the Griffins]
DES MOINES, Iowa – Three-point nights by Riley Barber (1-2—3), Taro Hirose (2-1—3) and Joe Hicketts (0-3—3) spearheaded the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 5-2 win over the Iowa Wild on Friday at the Wells Fargo Arena, their fourth consecutive victory on the road.
Now 8-3-2-0 on the season, the Griffins have earned points in all six outings during March (4-0-2-0) and 10 of their last 11 contests overall (8-1-2-0).
The Griffins scored the lone goal of the opening period just 10 seconds into the game’s first power play, as Dominic Turgeon popped Hunter Jones’ water bottle with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle at 9:26.
Hirose turned an egregious giveaway by Louis Belpedio into a 2-0 Grand Rapids lead at 5:40 of the second. From behind the net, Belpedio backhanded the puck out into the slot, where a forechecking and unmarked Hirose immediately slammed it past Jones’ blocker.
Keaton Thompson got it back for the Wild at the 13:58 mark, beating Kevin Boyle on a backhand from the bottom of the right circle to trim Iowa’s deficit back to one, but Barber answered less than two minutes later to make it a 3-1 game. In the high slot, Barber took a pass from Gustav Lindstrom at the right point, turned and ripped a shot past Jones’ glove for his team-high 10th goal of the campaign, tied for second-most in the AHL.
Boyle was a busy man during that middle frame, as his 15 saves were a season-high for a Griffins netminder. He would finish the night with 27, another team-team on the season.
Chase Pearson pushed the margin to three by banging home his own rebound at the right post during a power play at 5:39 of the third, giving him points in six of the last seven games (4-4—8).
Jarrett Burton’s first goal in an Iowa uniform at 9:24 again brought the Wild to within two at 4-2, but after the home team pulled Jones for an extra attacker in the waning minutes, Hirose scored into the empty net with 45 seconds remaining.
The Griffins were outshot and held to fewer than 30 shots for just the third time each this season, breaking a run of eight straight games in which the league’s shot leaders had reached that total.
· Hicketts’ three-assist night was the first for a Griffin since Hirose’s on Jan. 24, 2020 against San Diego.
· There were three fights in the first 26 minutes of play. Dylan McIlrath was involved in two of them, resulting in a game misconduct. The Griffins then lost another veteran blueliner, Brian Lashoff, to an apparent injury sustained at the end of the second period, forcing forward Dominik Shine to take shifts on defense during the third.
· Lashoff played his 513th game as a Griffin tonight, tying for the eighth-most games in AHL history among players who’ve spent their entire AHL career with the same club. He matched Stan Smrke, who played for Rochester from 1957-67.
· Forward Albin Grewe, a third-round pick of Detroit in 2019, made his Griffins, AHL and North American debuts tonight. The 20-year-old played 39 games this season with Djurgardens in Sweden’s top league (SHL) before signing an amateur tryout with Grand Rapids on Monday.
Grand Rapids 1 2 2 – 5
Iowa 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Turgeon 2 (Hicketts, Smith), 9:26 (PP). Penalties-Dumont Ia (tripping), 9:16; McIlrath Gr (fighting), 10:06; McCoshen Ia (fighting), 10:06; Shine Gr (slashing), 17:50.
2nd Period-2, Grand Rapids, Hirose 2 5:40. 3, Iowa, Thompson 1 (Johnson, Mayhew), 13:58. 4, Grand Rapids, Barber 10 (Lindstrom, Hirose), 15:49. Penalties-Smith Gr (fighting), 2:20; Duhaime Ia (fighting), 2:20; McIlrath Gr (fighting, game misconduct – third major/second fight), 5:47; Johnson Ia (fighting), 5:47; McLeod Ia (cross-checking), 6:19.
3rd Period-5, Grand Rapids, Pearson 5 (Barber, Hicketts), 5:31 (PP). 6, Iowa, Burton 1 (Bartkowski, Sheehy), 9:24. 7, Grand Rapids, Hirose 3 (Barber, Hicketts), 19:15 (EN). Penalties-Mayhew Ia (tripping), 4:03.
Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 8-10-7-25. Iowa 6-16-7-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 2 / 3; Iowa 0 / 1.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Boyle 4-1-1 (29 shots-27 saves). Iowa, Jones 1-7-1 (24 shots-20 saves).
1. GR Barber (game-winning goal, two assists); 2. GR Hirose (two goals, assist); 3. IA Burton (goal)
Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 8-3-2-0 (18 pts.) / Sat., March 27 at Iowa 7 p.m. EDT
Iowa: 4-9-2-0 (10 pts.) / Sat., March 27 vs. Grand Rapids 6 p.m. CDT