GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – The Grand Rapids Griffins were at home for the third consecutive game, this time playing host to the red hot Cleveland Monsters, who came into the game winners of five straight. The Griffins found themselves down by a goal to start the third period but scored three unanswered goals to come back and beat the Monsters, 5-3.
The Monsters’ second-ranked power play got the scoring going early in the first. Cleveland connected when Carson Meyer was able to redirect a Tyler Sikura shot past Griffins goalie Pat Nagle.
There is no secret that when these two teams play, it tends to get a little physical. Dylan McIlrath and Brett Gallant squared off in what was one of the better scraps you will see all season around the league. Both players landed their fair share of blows, but McIlrath seemingly won the bout when one of his shots bloodied Gallant around the eye. This set up a physical battle throughout the remainder of the game.
Down 1-0, the Griffins were able to answer right back with a pair of tallies just over a minute apart. Troy Loggins knotted the game up at one when he was able to get a shot off, gather his own rebound and bury it home for the score. Gregor MacLeod put the Griffins in front when he got his stick on a Joe Hicketts shot toward the net. That goal for MacLeod was his first of the year.
In addition to having one of the best power-play units in the AHL, the Monsters also have one of the better penalty kill units in the league. The Monsters were able to tie the game up at two goals a piece, scoring a short-handed tally. Liam Foudy stole the puck and broke up ice all alone to beat Nagle for the goal. Cleveland took the lead a few minutes later when Dillon Simpson scored from just above the face-off circles. That was the second power-play goal of the night for the Monsters. The teams headed to their locker rooms, with Cleveland leading 3-2 after 40 minutes of action.
Dominic Turgeon tied the game up just over one minute into the third period, beating the Monsters defense, and deflected a Taro Hirose pass into the net, beating the Monsters netminder. The Griffins took the lead for good on the power play when Riley Barber scored on a feed from Turner Elson. Givani Smith would add an empty-net goal to ultimately seal the victory for Grand Rapids.
Defenseman Jared McIsaac made his AHL debut, pairing up with Dylan McIlrath. Dominik Shine was back on defense as well.
Pat Nagle was in goal for the Griffins, stopping 19 of 22 Cleveland shots. The Griffins ended the game going 1-for-4 on the power play while Cleveland was 2-for-4 on the power play.
The Griffins will host the Monsters again tonight, with puck drop coming just after 7 P.M.