GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins rallied twice in regulation and fought through a 37-20 deficit in shots to earn a point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
After making 33 saves in the game, Tom McCollum denied three of four Hamilton attempts in the shootout, but all five Griffins shooters turned up empty against Robert Mayer, who backstopped the Bulldogs to a win in their season opener.
Grand Rapids (0-1-0-1) will play its first road contest of the season on Friday, Oct. 19 against the Rochester Americans at 7:05 p.m.
Hamilton scored twice in the final three minutes of an otherwise tight opening period. Blake Geoffrion slipped a backhand past McCollum while falling to the ice in the slot at the 17:09 mark, before Aaron Palushaj’s deflection on the doorstep with just 6.6 seconds remaining gave the visitors a 2-0 lead at intermission.
The Bulldogs had a great chance to extend their lead thanks to a four-minute power play to start the second period, but the Griffins instead got on the board with their second shorthanded goal in as many nights. Landon Ferraro, who took the honors with an unassisted tally against Milwaukee on Friday, fed a pass into the right circle to Trevor Parkes, who whipped a shot behind Mayer at the 46-second mark for the first shorthanded goal of his career.
Francis Pare, who didn’t notch his first goal for Grand Rapids until the 13th game last season, exhibited an early-season scoring touch at 5:24. A point-blank try by Brendan Smith was stopped by Mayer, but Pare knocked in the rebound at the left post to knot the score at 2-2.
Hamilton used a goal from its fourth line to pull back on top at 4:53 of the third, as Gabriel Dumont’s shot from along the goal line managed to elude McCollum. Once again, though, the Griffins clawed back to forge a tie, with captain Jeff Hoggan beating Mayer on a backhand from the slot at 9:39, off the rebound of Nathan Paetsch’s blast from the left point during a power play.
The game progressed to overtime, where each netminder made four saves to send it to the shootout. McCollum surrendered a goal to rookie Michael Bourinval in round three, while Nyquist, Smith, Tomas Tatar, Pare and Joakim Andersson were denied in succession at the other end.
The Griffins’ special teams were solid for the second straight night, turning back all six Hamilton power plays and converting one of their three opportunities. Grand Rapids’ penalty kill is now 12-for-13 on the season, while its power play is 2-for-7.
Note: Making his pro debut in the ECHL tonight, Detroit Red Wings draft pick and Griffins prospect Petr Mrazek stopped 33 of 34 shots and earned First Star honors in the Toledo Walleye’s 4-1 home win over the Kalamazoo Wings.
Three Stars: 1. GR Hoggan (PPG, assist); 2. GR McCollum (SOL, 33 saves); 3. GR Parkes (SHG)