TOLEDO, Ohio – In their first official preseason game since 2005, the Grand Rapids Griffins fell 3-1 to the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday in a neutral-site contest at the Huntington Center, home to the Griffins’ ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye.
The Griffins will conclude their brief preseason slate on Sunday with a 7 p.m. rematch against the Monsters at Yost Ice Arena at the University of Michigan, before opening their 17th regular season next Friday against the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena.
The Monsters scored on their first shot and built a 3-0 advantage through 20 minutes despite being out-gunned 6-4 for the period. Brad Malone slipped a rebound inside the left post past Tom McCollum at 1:05, Paul Carey connected on a short-range shot from the right side at 4:18, and Barry Goers went top shelf from the high slot at 11:52.
The Griffins had two power plays but no power play shots during the first, coming closest to scoring when Chad Billins hit the right post on a wrister from the point during the first power play. Grand Rapids was awarded its second opportunity after Gustav Nyquist was crushed in the right corner by Markus Lauridsen. Lauridsen received two minutes for boarding, and a briefly shaken up Nyquist eventually skated off on his own before quickly returning to action.
Early in the second, McCollum stoned Lake Erie’s David van der Gulik on consecutive point-blank shots. On the other end, capping off a sequence in which Grand Rapids peppered the Monsters’ net, Landon Ferraro potted a rebound on a sharp angle from the right side at 2:20, cutting Grand Rapids’ deficit to 3-1.
Lake Erie carried its two-goal cushion into the third period along with a 21-12 disadvantage in shots. Monsters netminders Sami Aittokallio and Kieran Millan combined for 14 saves during the second frame, including the former’s theft of Joey Martin four minutes in that helped preserve the visitors’ lead.
The Griffins again out-shot Lake Erie in the third, this time by a 10-4 margin, but they were unable to dent Millan.
McCollum finished with 13 saves while going the distance for Grand Rapids, which enjoyed a 31-16 shot advantage for the game. The Griffins finished 0-for-5 on the power play while the Monsters went 0-for-3.
GAME NOTES: Francis Pare, Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan, Trevor Parkes, Triston Grant, Nathan Paetsch and Brendan Smith were the Griffins’ scratches. Jordan Pearce backed-up McCollum…Grand Rapids released Martin and fellow forward Max Campbell after the game. They will remain in Toledo as members of the Walleye…Goalie Petr Mrazek, reassigned by the Red Wings to Toledo from Grand Rapids earlier today, started the ECHL preseason matchup between the Walleye and the Kalamazoo Wings that followed the Griffins’ tilt.