The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/21/13 at 02:51 AM ET
A week from Monday, the Grand Rapids Griffins will tangle with the Toronto Marlies at Comerica Park, and the Griffins may be the "winningest" team to take to the outdoor ice given their record thus far.
The Griffins lead the AHL's Western Conference with 45 points thanks to 21 wins in 28 games played thus far, and while Riley Sheahan, Petr Mrazek, Tomas Jurco, Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves are all in Detroit due to the Wings' injuries, the Griffins keep rolling along. The Griffins defeated the Rockford IceHogs via a 3-2 OT decision on Friday, and the Griffins' website notes that Grand Rapids' start has been nothing less than remarkable:
Mitch Callahan slipped the puck beneath Kent Simpson 1:21 into overtime on Friday to lift the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs at Van Andel Arena and keep his team’s unprecedented run intact for yet another night.
While pushing their franchise-record start to an incredible 21-5-1-1, the Griffins won for the 19th time in their last 22 games, a stretch of success unmatched in the team’s 18 seasons.
Callahan’s heroics were made possible by the yeoman efforts of Jeff Hoggan and Tom McCollum during regulation. Hoggan scored a power play goal in each of the first two periods while McCollum made 31 saves to claim his fourth consecutive victory and improve to 11-3 on the season.
The Griffins, winners of 11 of their last 12 at Van Andel Arena, will hit the road for their next three games, beginning with Saturday’s 8 p.m. EST visit to the Chicago Wolves. The radio broadcast will be aired on ESPN 96.1 FM.
Hoggan opened the scoring 5:52 into the contest, popping home a rebound from the doorstep after Cory Emmerton had tried to stuff the puck past Simpson. The IceHogs answered with 3:29 remaining in the frame when Philippe Lefebvre launched a wrister from the left circle that sailed into the far corner, a shot that McCollum could not see because of the traffic in front of his crease.
The Griffins’ captain then tallied on a wraparound at 3:32 of the second, jamming a backhand between Simpson and the left post. But again Rockford responded with a tying score, as Brad Winchester’s tip eluded McCollum at the 5:35 mark of the third for a power play goal.
The game eventually extended to overtime, the first at Van Andel Arena this season for the Griffins, who had played just a pair of one-goal games in their first 13 home outings. Landon Ferraro set up the game-winner by throwing the puck toward the net from the left corner. Alexey Marchenko had a stab at it before Callahan banged it into the net to ignite the crowd of 8,269 that braved an icy evening in West Michigan.
Simpson stopped 32 shots for the second-place IceHogs (15-12-3-0), who fell 11 points behind the Midwest Division leaders.
Notes: McCollum’s 56th career win moved him past Mike Fountain into sole possession of third place on the Griffins’ all-time list, behind only Jimmy Howard (90) and Joey MacDonald (109)...Including Wednesday's 2-1 triumph at Iowa, the Griffins have won consecutive games in overtime for the first time in nearly 10 years, dating to Jan. 16-17, 2004.
Three Stars: 1. GR Callahan (overtime goal); 2. GR Hoggan (two power play goals); 3. GR McCollum (W, 31 saves)
The Griffins also posted a Flickr photo gallery and a slate of highlights and interviews from the game:
In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye's leading scorer (Trevor Parkes) and three other contributors (Louis-Marc Aubry, Martin Frk and Jared Coreau) are all in Grand Rapids thanks to the cascading effects of the Wings' injuries, but they're still starting to turn things around after a disastrous start.
The Walleye defeated the Kalamazoo K-Wings 2-1 as former Boston Bruins goalie Hannu Toivonen stopped a remarkable 47 of 48 shots. In terms of Red Wings prospects, the gents had a quiet night, with one exception: Marek Tvrdon finished at +1 with 2 shots, Max Nicastro finished at +1 with a shot and a minor penalty, but his defensive partner, Richard Nedomlel, got tossed all of 1:54 into the game for an illegal check to the head.
The Walleye's website recounts the game's events:
Goaltender Hannu Toivonen made 47 saves to lead Toledo to a 2-1 win in Kalamazoo on Friday night. Toledo has an overall record of 8-12-3-0 and is 3-7-3-0 on the road this season.
Toledo and Kalamazoo finished the first period scoreless despite the Wings having three power play chances.
“It was tough to get off to good start with all of the penalties against us in the first period,” said Head Coach Nick Vitucci. “That said, our penalty kill did the job and gave us a chance tonight along with the outstanding goaltending from Toivonen.”
The Wings would collect the first goal of the game at 8:15 of the second period when Justin Taylor tapped in a rebound past Hannu Toivonen. Kalamazoo had 38 shots on goal after two periods.
It would take most of the third period but Toledo would tie the game at one when David Gilbert deflected a Scott Arnold pass into the goal at 17:18. The Walleye would take the lead when Pat Mullane scored on a penalty shot just 20 seconds later for his first professional.
Walleye Notes: Goaltender Hannu Toivonen made 47 saves on 48 shots in net for Toledo. Toivonen has a record of 3-4-0-0 this year. Toivonen made 17 saves in the first period.
The Walleye and K-Wings will tangle again on Saturday, so we'll find out whether the bad blood boils over.
And in World Junior Championship exhibition play, Anthony Mantha scored a goal and added an assist in Canada's 4-2 win over Finland, but TSN's Bob McKenzie's declared Mantha to be nothing less than a "bubble boy," and Yahoo's Buzzing the Net's Cam Charron notes that Mantha wasn't cut from the team due to his performance because, well, Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman believes that Mantha won a one-game roster spot play-off...
Anthony Mantha (DET) beat out Hunter Shinkaruk (VAN) in a battle for a spot on Canada, as the latter was cut. Mantha didn’t do a ton early on, but later in the game showed the speed and offensive creativity that makes him pretty desirable as a prospect for a big man. Shinkaruk has not looked himself since a hip injury in October for the last few weeks and this cut almost seemed inevitable.
But the "experts" seem to believe that the QMJHL's leading scorer may still be cut (the team only brought two goalies with them to Sweden in Canadiens prospect Zach Fucale and Wings prospect Jake Paterson, so Paterson's safe) despite doing this on a regular basis:
For the record, the Hockey News's Darryl Dobbs had this to say about Mantha's chances of catapulting his way from strong QMJHL and World Junior performances into contention as a Wings prospect playing at the AHL or NHL levels:
Anthony Mantha, RW – The Detroit prospect leads the Quebec League in scoring by a wide margin, but because he’s with the Red Wings he’ll have to get in line. He’ll need to take the choice out of the hands of Red Wings brass with some ridiculous play.
Back over on this side of the pond, in the QMJHL, Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs defeated Sherbrooke 6-3;
Phillipe Hudon didn't play in the Victoriaville Tigres' 4-3 loss to Baie-Comeau;
In the OHL, oh boy. Paterson's Saginaw Spirit dropped an 11-6 decision to the Windsor Spitfires, and they pulled their starter for a back-up who gave up 2 goals on 2 shots;
And in the BCHL, David Pope registered an assist in the West Kelowna Warriors' 3-1 win over Penticton.
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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.