CLEVELAND – The Grand Rapids Griffins tied the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history on Friday with a 6-5 overtime decision over the Lake Erie Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena.
After trailing 3-0 in the second period, Tomas Jurco scored two goals within nine seconds in the third to give the Griffins their first lead of the game. The Monsters scored with an extra attacker to send the game into overtime, but Gustav Nyquist netted his second goal of the night to give Grand Rapids (8-4-1-1) the victory.
Jurco’s goals were two seconds off of the franchise record for the fastest two goals scored. The record is held by Darin Smith and Ben Hankinson, who scored two goals in seven seconds against Orlando on Oct. 19, 1996.
After failing to score in their previous two games, David van der Gulik put the Monsters on the scoreboard midway through the opening period. Karl Stollery lifted the puck towards the goal and van der Gulik was waiting on the doorstep, slipping his shot past Petr Mrazek at 10:11 of the first period. The goal was the veteran’s first of the season.
Lake Erie (9-6-1-0) opened up a high scoring second period when Andrew Agozzino found a lane on the right side and buried a wrist shot inside the right goal post. The shot from the right circle gave the Monsters a 2-0 lead at 4:02 of the second.
Just over six minutes later, Mitchell Heard gave the Monsters a three-goal lead when he tallied his first professional goal. Heard caused a turnover in front of the Griffins net and placed the puck in the top left corner at 10:29.
But the three-goal hole didn’t deter the Griffins. Max Nicastro put Grand Rapids on the scoreboard at 11:32 of the second period, bouncing his shot off of a Lake Erie defenseman’s stick and into the back of the net. The goal marked Nicastro's first professional point.
Less than two minutes later, the Griffins pulled within one goal of the Monsters when Mitch Callahan took the puck off of a faceoff and made a great pass in front of the goal to Triston Grant. The pass set up Grant on the back side of the goal, and the left wing quickly buried the puck at 13:10 of the second period.
Van der Gulik restored Lake Erie’s two-goal lead when he grabbed the puck off of a faceoff and fired it past Mrazek in a split second. The goal at 14:03 of the second period was van der Gulik’s second of the night.
Nyquist scored the sixth and final goal of the second period, scoring seven seconds into a power play at 15:59. Brendan Smith sailed a shot wide of the goal, but Nyquist was waiting on the left circle for the rebound. He quickly scooped the rebound and popped it by Calvin Pickard, cutting Lake Erie’s lead to 4-3 heading into the third period.
Jurco scored two goals nine seconds apart in the third period to erase the Griffins three-goal deficit and give them their first lead of the night. Francis Pare made a play down the slot and even though he couldn’t get a shot off, Jurco was following close behind and jammed the puck home at 6:21 of the third.
Nine seconds later, Pare and Jurco worked their magic again as Pare found Jurco streaking down the slot. Jurco moved the puck from right to left in front of the goal and snuck it around Pickard, giving the Griffins their first lead of the night.
But the Monsters were ready for a comeback of their own. Lake Erie scored the tying goal with 1:09 left in the game when Tyson Barrie went wide left down the length of the ice and found Bryan Lerg in front of the goal. Lerg slipped his shot past Mrazek, sending the game into overtime.
Midway through the overtime period, Joakim Andersson passed to Tomas Tatar on the right side, who hit Nyquist with a backdoor pass on the left side of the goal. Nyquist netted the overtime power play goal, extending the Griffins winning streak to six games.
Pickard recorded 22 saves while Mrazek earned his fifth win behind 29 saves. Mrazek’s 5-0 start ties the best start by any Griffins goaltender.
The Griffins return to Grand Rapids for their next contest, hosting the Chicago Wolves next Friday at 7:00 p.m.
THREE STARS: 1. GR Nyquist (two goals) 2. GR Jurco (two goals) 3. LE Van der Gulik (two goals)