From the Griffins:
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Six different Grand Rapids Griffins lit the lamp and five enjoyed two-point nights on Friday as the home team roared to its largest-ever victory in a Van Andel Arena opener, defeating the Rockford IceHogs 6-1 before a capacity crowd of 10,834.
Chase Pearson, Tyler Spezia and Dennis Yan each tallied a goal and an assist while both reigning AHL Defenseman of the Year Ryan Murphy and rookie Kirill Tyutyayev chipped in a pair of helpers, leading Grand Rapids to a win for the fifth time in its last six home debuts.
Joe Veleno scored the first goal of the 2021-22 campaign on the power play with 12:12 remaining in the opening period off Murphy’s first assist as a Griffin, but Josiah Slavin answered for Rockford at the 14:52 mark with the only goal Calvin Pickard would surrender on the night, sending it to intermission tied 1-1.
Tyutyayev notched his first point in North America by setting up Spezia’s go-ahead tally 3:14 into the second, before goals by Turner Elson at 4:20 and Hayden Verbeek at 17:11 pushed Grand Rapids’ lead to three heading into the final 20 minutes. Elson’s marker gave him 100 points (41-59—100) for his Griffins career.
A Pearson power play goal at 4:25 of the third made it a 5-1 game, and Yan wrapped up the scoring by beating Malcolm Subban with 6:58 remaining.
• Excluding the 2020-21 crowd-restricted pandemic season, this marked the Griffins’ 25th consecutive home-opening sellout.
• Luke Witkowski became the fourth West Michigander to play for the Griffins, joining East Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening, Kentwood local and current GR assistant coach Mike Knuble, and Muskegon legend Justin Abdelkader.
Rockford 1 0 0 – 1
Grand Rapids 1 3 2 – 6
1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Veleno 1 (Murphy, Pickard), 7:48 (PP). 2, Rockford, Slavin 1 (Morrison, Beaudin), 14:52. Penalties-Yan Gr (tripping), 2:23; Stanton Rfd (interference), 7:16.
2nd Period-3, Grand Rapids, Spezia 1 (Tyutyayev, Yan), 3:14. 4, Grand Rapids, Elson 1 (Berggren, Pearson), 4:20. 5, Grand Rapids, Verbeek 1 (Tyutyayev, McIsaac), 17:11. Penalties-Lashoff Gr (cross-checking), 4:30.
3rd Period-6, Grand Rapids, Pearson 1 (Hirose, Murphy), 4:25 (PP). 7, Grand Rapids, Yan 1 (Spezia, Shine), 13:02. Penalties-Stanton Rfd (tripping), 4:07; Witkowski Gr (interference), 6:13; Altybarmakian Rfd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:42; Barratt Rfd (cross-checking), 17:42; Shine Gr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:42.
Shots on Goal-Rockford 10-9-5-24. Grand Rapids 7-11-6-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Rockford 0 / 3; Grand Rapids 2 / 4.
Goalies-Rockford, Subban 0-1-0 (24 shots-18 saves). Grand Rapids, Pickard 1-0-0 (24 shots-23 saves).
1. GR Pearson (goal, assist); 2. GR Tyutyayev (two assists); 3. GR Pickard (W, 23 saves)
Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 1-0-0-0 (2 pts.) / Sat., Oct. 16 at Milwaukee 7 p.m. EDT
Rockford: 0-1-0-0 (0 pts.) / Sat., Oct. 16 at Chicago 7 p.m. CDT