GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A goaltending duel between Peoria’s Mike McKenna and Grand Rapids’ Petr Mrazek went the way of the veteran on Wednesday night, as the Rivermen broke a three-game skid with a 2-1 victory over the Griffins at Van Andel Arena.
McKenna, whose resume boasts 17 NHL appearances and 211 AHL contests, stopped 28 shots to inflict a rare loss on the record of Griffins rookie Mrazek, who made 21 saves but fell to 7-2 this season.
After wrapping up a four-game home stand, the Griffins (11-7-1-1) will travel to the Windy City for an 8:30 p.m. EST matchup on Friday against the Chicago Wolves, before returning home to play two straight and nine of their next 11.
Following a scoreless opening period, Adam Cracknell put the Rivermen (7-10-2-2) ahead 4:18 into the second when he tracked down a loose puck and snapped a shot past Mrazek.
A Peoria power play later in the frame produced a goal for each side, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead entering the final 20 minutes. Riley Sheahan scored an unassisted, shorthanded goal at the 8:26 mark, carrying the puck up ice from his own blue line, maneuvering between the circles and ripping a shot inside the left post. But Jaden Schwartz got it back for the Rivermen 1:07 later, crashing the crease to slip a rebound into a wide-open net.
The Griffins’ best chance to net the equalizer came over the final 1:18 of the third, when Mrazek went to the bench after a high-sticking penalty on Derek Nesbitt to create a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters for the Griffins, but McKenna and the Peoria defense held firm to secure the win.
THREE STARS: 1. PEO Schwartz (game-winning goal); 2. PEO McKenna (W, 28 saves); 3. GR Sheahan (SH goal)