PEORIA, Ill. – In a dramatic comeback win, the Grand Rapids Griffins moved into first place in the Midwest Division with a 5-3 victory over the Peoria Rivermen Saturday at Carver Arena.
After trailing 2-0 early in the contest, the Griffins took their first lead of the game they wouldn't lose with two and a half minutes left in the game, extending their win streak to five games.
The Rivermen jumped on the scoreboard early as T.J. Hensick scored his second power play goal of the season at 1:56 of the first period. Ian Cole fired a shot wide of the goal and it bounced to Hensick at just the right angle for a quick shot passed Tom McCollum.
Exactly one minute after Peoria’s first goal, Derek Nesbitt gave the Rivermen a two-goal lead. The puck bounced from Brent Regner to the left side of the goal where Nesbitt was waiting. Nesbitt snuck the puck past McCollum at 2:56 of the first period, scoring his third goal in the last three games.
Landon Ferraro cut Peoria’s lead in half on a power play goal at 18:16 of the first period. Brendan Smith set up Ferraro with a low pass eight feet in front of the net, and Ferraro snuck his shot underneath Jake Allen’s left arm. The goal was Ferraro’s fourth of the season.
Seconds after Peoria’s power play expired halfway through the second period, the Rivermen restored their two-goal lead. Phil McRae found Mark Cundari on a pass from the right corner, and Cundari fired a 40-foot shot past McCollum’s glove at 9:40 of the second period.
Tomas Tatar cut Peoria’s lead to one with a power play goal at 17:55 of the second period. After a mad scramble at the net, Tatar deflected his shot off Allen and the puck rolled just over the goal line, cutting the Rivermen’s lead to one goal heading into the third period.
The Griffins tied the game at 3-3 with 10:39 left in the third period. Adam Almquist found Gustav Nyquist on the right side of the goal, who passed up a short shot, instead finding Joakim Andersson wide open on the back side of the goal.
The Griffins took their first lead of the night at 17:34 of the third period. Almquist took the initial shot and Allen made two glove saves before Francis Pare lifted his rebound shot over the goaltender.
Ferraro sealed the Griffins victory with an empty net goal at 19:58 of the final period, giving Grand Rapids a 5-3 lead. The goal was Ferraro’s second of the night.
Allen recorded 32 saves while McCollum earned the win behind 22 saves.
The Griffins improve to 7-4-1-1 and move into first place in the Midwest Division with the victory as Peoria falls to 2-7-2-1.
The Griffins are on the road again for their next contest, playing against the Lake Erie Monsters Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST.
THREE STARS: GR Jeff Hoggan (assist); PEO T.J. Hensick (goal); GR Landon Ferraro (two goals)