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Red Wings prospect news: Griffins and Walleye lose again; Mantha hits 50-goal mark

Amongst this morning's Red Wings-related prospect news...

The Grand Rapids Griffins have begun to regularly achieve something no one would've believed they could do earlier this season: they're losing games. The Griffins owned a 22-8-1-and-2 record heading into the 2014, but since their New Year's Eve shootout loss to Toronto, the team's won 8 of their past 21 games, and after Friday night's 4-2 loss to Oklahoma City, the Griffins now possess a 30-17-2-3 (i.e. 30-and-22) record.

The Griffins' website recounts the game's events...

On a night when they wore red camouflage jerseys as a “Salute to Heroes,” the Grand Rapids Griffins were unable to rescue themselves from their home skid, falling 4-2 to the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

A capacity crowd of 10,834 witnessed the first meeting of these teams since Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals last June 5, when the Griffins scratched out a 5-4 home victory en route to their Calder Cup championship. This time, however, the visitors extended the Griffins’ winless streak at Van Andel Arena to six games (0-5-0-1), their longest since a seven-game drought that concluded in December 2010.  

Grand Rapids (30-17-2-3) won’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption, as it will host a 7 p.m. rematch with the Barons (23-22-1-6) on Saturday in the middle match of this weekend’s three-in-three at home.

The Griffins scored the lone goal of the opening period courtesy of a wicked wrist shot by Calle Jarnkrok, who took a pass from Andrej Nestrasil in the right circle and ripped the puck over Richard Bachman’s glove for a power play tally at 16:37.

Oklahoma City answered 3:26 into the second, scoring with only two ticks remaining in its own power play. Brad Hunt maneuvered around Nathan Paetsch at the Griffins’ blue line and skated in unchallenged on Tom McCollum, taking advantage of the defensive lapse to beat the goaltender stick side from point-blank range.

The Barons took a 2-1 lead at the 11:02 mark, with Oscar Klefbom notching his first pro goal through a screen from the top of the left circle, but the Griffins responded just 42 seconds later when David McIntyre took a return pass from Martin Frk on the doorstep and redirected the puck behind Bachman.

Hunt scored his second power play goal on a long blast from the point with 2:19 remaining before intermission to again inch the Barons ahead, and Roman Horak made it a 4-2 game 2:17 into the third by potting Steve Pinizzotto’s feed from the end boards.

Bachman closed out matters from there to finish with 23 saves, while McCollum made 24 stops in the loss.

Notes: Triston Grant and Jordin Tootoo returned to action after missing the last six and four games, respectively, due to injuries…Tomas Jurco, fresh off the plane after returning from his Olympic stint with the Slovakian team in Sochi, Russia, was a healthy scratch…The sellout was the Griffins’ fourth of the season and second in the last five home games, as well as their third crowd of 10,000-plus in the last five. With an average attendance of 7,868 for the season, the Griffins have moved past Providence (7,761) into second place in the AHL. 

Three Stars: 1. OKC Hunt (two power play goals); 2. OKC Mark Arcobello (two assists); 3. OKC Horak (goal, assist)

The Griffins also posted a photo gallery and a slate of highlights and post-game interviews...

And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with the Griffins regarding their struggles of late:

The Griffins allowed three goals in the second period and lost 4-2 Friday to Oklahoma City, their sixth consecutive loss at home. Grand Rapids has dropped five of its last six games overall. The loss has the Griffins (30-17-2-3) barely holding on to first, which they've held since Nov. 1 – the 10th game of the season. They entered the night one point ahead of Chicago in the Midwest Division.

"Am I concerned? Yeah, because we're not generating enough and we're giving up too much," said coach Jeff Blashill. "So anytime you do that, it's a bad combination.... Losses don't bother me as much as when the process doesn't seem to be good enough, and right now it's just not good enough."

It hasn’t affected attendance at Van Andel Arena. Friday’s crowd of 10,834 was the second in the past five games and third game in five with a crowd of more than 10,000. The home average of 7,868 is now second in the AHL.

The team's last home win was Jan. 17, and the Griffins have been outscored by 15 goals – or three a game - during the skid. They have not scored more than two goals in any of them.

"The biggest concern that I have right now, is we have to show a way better ability to have a resilient nature, and we haven't been. Every time we get down we seem to slump our shoulders and feel sorry for ourselves instead of go out and keep playing."




In the ECHL, the Walleye have been out of the playoff mix since November, so Friday's 7-3 loss to the Orlando Solar Bears wasn't exactly stunning. Jared Coreau stopping 24 of 31 shots over 2 periods of play, Richard Nedomlel finishing with an assist and at -3, that's kind of old hat for a team that's questioning whether to continue its dual affiliation with the Wings and Chicago Blackhawks because endless player recalls have significantly disrupted any sort of player continuity.

The Walleye's website provides a game recap...

The Walleye fell behind 3-0 in the first period and could not recover in a 7-3 loss to Orlando on Friday night at the Huntington Center. Toledo has an overall record of 16-30-3-1 and is 9-13-0-0 at home.

Toledo had an early chance to take the lead when David Gilbert hit the post a few minutes into the game. Orlando would strike for three unanswered goals after that to carry a commanding lead into the break.

“They have been a dominating first period team all season long,” said Head Coach Nick Vitucci. “We didn’t match their intensity to start the game and you aren’t going to recover against a good team like that.”

Travis Novak would give Toledo some life when he wired in his 10th goal of the season just 50 seconds into the second period. The Walleye would pull within a goal at 3:32 when Alden Hirschfeld deposited his 9th goal of the year. Orlando would counter with a pair of goals to lead by three going to the third period.
Aaron Clarke would score his 14th goal of the season on the power play late in the third period after Orlando had built the lead to 7-2.

Walleye Notes:  Goaltender Jared Coreau made 24 saves on 31 shots in net for Toledo. Coreau has a record 1-9-3-1 on the season. Mac Carruth stopped all five shots he faced over the last 13:23 of the contest.

The Walleye's YouTube channel posted highlights and a post-game interview with coach Nick Vitucci...

And the Toledo Blade's Rachel Lenzi reports that the Walleye are, technically speaking, a mess:

With a 7-3 loss to Orlando, the Walleye dropped their seventh game in a row, and the loss to the Solar Bears didn’t help the frustrations that have been mounting for the Walleye.

“There’s certainly not one problem you can point the finger at, or any individual or anything,” Walleye defenseman Russ Sinkewich said. “We all know where we are as a team, and I think we need to bring a good effort for 60 minutes. That’s the biggest thing. Starting that and minimizing the errors we make.”

The Walleye gave up three goals in the first period, and while they appeared to have some life at the start of the second period when Travis Novak and Alden Hirschfeld scored two quick goals, they could not build off that momentum.

Additionally, the teams took a combined 21 penalties, including 11 against the Walleye. That number was indicative of the Walleye’s frustration level.


Scott Tanski and Blake Kessel scored a pair of goals nine seconds apart late in the first to help the Solar Bears take a 3-0 lead, and it forced the Walleye to do some navel-gazing during the first intermission.

“We discussed it in the locker room that, as a team, you have to play for more than just what the final score is,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “You play for yourself, for your teammates, and to impress for the next 21 or 22 games, and for your career. Regardless of the score, the passion level’s got to improve, and the compete level’s got to improve.”




In Major Junior hockey, in the QMJHL, Phillipe Hudon didn't register a point in his Victoriaville Tigres' 3-0 win over Quebec...

Anthony Mantha registered points 101 and 102 via a goal and an assist in the Val-d'Or Foreurs' 3-0 win over Acadie Bathurst, giving Mantha his 50th goal and 52nd assist, all registered over the course of 48 games played;

In the OHL, Tyler Bertuzzi remains sidelined with neck issues, but his Guelph Storm beat Windsor 6-4;

Zach Nastasiuk finally returned from an "upper-body" injury and registered an assist in the Owen Sound Attack's 3-1 win over Kitchener;

In the WHL, Mitchell Wheaton didn't register a point, but his Kelowna Rockets defeated Marc McNulty's Prince George Cougars 4-2. McNulty scored a goal for Prince George--but Marek Tvrdon had a goal and an assist for the Rockets, and I had no idea that the Wings had loaned him to Kelowna. Tvrdon's posted 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points over the course of 17 games played for Kelowna.

And in the BCHL, David Pope registered a goal in the West Kelowna Warriors' 5-3 win over Merrit.



In NCAA hockey, the Western Michigan University Broncos lost 5-1 to the University of Nebraska Omaha, and Mike McKee made a rare appearance, taking 3 shots and finishing at -1;

And finally, James de Haas didn't play in the Clarkson Golden Knights' 5-0 loss to Union.


Update: DRW Prospects on Twitter posted a video of Mantha's goal:

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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