GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Griffins won their home opener in dramatic fashion, knocking off the Cleveland Monsters in overtime, 2-1. The power play for Grand Rapids proved, once again, to be the difference-maker for the home team, who notched their third straight win on the young season.
The first period saw a pretty even offensive and defensive effort from both clubs. Neither team was able to find the back of the net, but both teams had a slew of quality chances. Griffins goalie Pat Nagle and Cleveland goalie Brad Thiessen both were outstanding and able to make key saves to keep the game scoreless after the first period. The Griffins had a couple of power-play opportunities in the opening period but came up empty, despite controlling the pace. Cleveland came up empty on their lone power-play attempt of the period.
The second period was nearly a carbon copy of the opening period, with both teams pretty evenly matched on both ends of the ice. The Griffins seemed to make their physical presence felt, while Cleveland was turning up the pressure offensively. Despite this, neither team could really gain an advantage, and the game remained scoreless after forty minutes of action. The Griffins came up empty on their only power-play opportunity of the period while Cleveland had no man-advantages.
Both teams came out of the locker room looking to strike first in the final period. The Griffins broke a scoreless tie while on the power play at 3:35 when Michael Rasmussen finally beat Thiessen. Dennis Cholowski began the play when he fired a shot that Kyle Criscuolo tipped onto Thiessen. Rasmussen was waiting on the doorstep, where he was able to gather the rebound and beat the Monsters’ goaltender for the 1-0 advantage. The Griffins lead, however, was short-lived. Ryan MacInnis tied the game on a breakaway that found its way through the pads of Nagle.
The game remained tied through the end of regulation.
The Griffins went into the extra frame on the power play as Nathan Gerbe of Cleveland committed a slashing penalty with just 44 seconds left in the third period. The Griffins took advantage of the Monsters’ miscue, and Cholowski ended the game 65 seconds into overtime off of a blast from the right circle.
Grand Rapids improved to 3-2 on the season as Pat Nagle continued his solid goaltending, improving his record to 2-1, with a .937 save percentage.
Next up for Grand Rapids is their third matchup with the red hot Chicago Wolves on Friday night. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
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