The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/15/13 at 02:36 AM ET
It is indeed, in the words of my friend Courtney, all sunshine and happiness in Grand Rapids, with perhaps the exception of the lake effect snow. The Grand Rapids Griffins won their second game in as many nights as the 19-5-1-and-1 Griffins defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 5-0.
The follow-up to last night's fisticuffs-filled 4-2 decision offered no less than three scraps, but it also included a 4-point performance from Cory Emmerton (2 goals and 2 assists), 2-point performances from Landon Ferraro (1G, 1A) and Teemu Pulkkinen (2 assists) as well as a 31-save shutout for Tom McCollum.
The Griffins' website provides a recap...
The Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday earned their 17th win in the last 20 games and finished their longest homestand of the season with a 6-1 mark, courtesy of a 5-0 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena.
Cory Emmerton scored twice en route to a four-point night while Tom McCollum stopped 31 shots to claim his first shutout of the season and improve his personal record to 9-3.
The Griffins, whose 19-5-1-1 mark represents the best start in franchise history, will play their first road game since Nov. 23 on Wednesday when they visit the Iowa Wild at 8:05 p.m. EST.
Fresh off a 4-2 victory over the Admirals last night, the Griffins wasted little time in building another two-goal lead on their Midwest Division rival. Emmerton, in his first game back since being reassigned by the Detroit Red Wings, took a pass from Teemu Pulkkinen in the high slot and ripped a shot over Magnus Hellberg’s blocker just 2:58 into the contest. Calle Jarnkrok followed up 2:24 later, sailing a shot into the other corner of Hellberg’s net from the right circle.
Jordin Tootoo and Milwaukee’s Michael Liambas watched half of the opening period from the penalty box, as they engaged in bouts just 26 seconds into the game and at the 10:54 mark. It marked a carryover of the bad blood from Friday’s clash that saw a total of three fights, including one between Liambas and Triston Grant.
The Admirals (12-7-4-1) received a four-minute power play with 4:40 left before intermission, courtesy of simultaneous hooking and slashing calls on Tomas Jurco, but the Griffins killed it off to maintain their 2-0 cushion through 20 minutes.
Grand Rapids again struck twice in the early going of the second period to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Landon Ferraro set up between the hashmarks and redirected a feed from Alexey Marchenko with the heel of his stick, sending the puck just inside the left post at 3:21. Emmerton then tallied shorthanded for his second goal of the night at 5:02, after a puck-handling flub by Hellberg resulted in Ferraro leaving the puck in the left circle for Emmerton, who blasted it inside the far post.
McCollum preserved the four-goal cushion with 5:20 left in the period, thwarting a shorthanded breakaway by Kevin Henderson, before also stopping all 12 Admirals shots in the third period.
With 4:06 left in the game, Andrej Nestrasil scored during a goal-mouth scramble to round out the scoring against Hellberg, who finished with 23 saves.
In their last three wins over Milwaukee, all at home, the Griffins have outscored the Admirals by a 14-2 margin, including a pair of 5-0 thrashings.
Notes: Pulkkinen has points in a team-high seven straight games...In Griffins history, the only run better than the current 17-3 streak was an 18-3 mark between Nov. 24, 2000 and Jan. 12, 2001…McCollum’s 54th career win tied him with Marc Lamothe for fourth place on the Griffins’ all-time list, one behind Mike Fountain. In addition, his four career shutouts tie Jani Hurme and Martin Prusek for seventh all time…The Griffins wore commemorative jerseys in honor of the Grand Rapids Owls, the IHL team that played at Stadium Arena from 1977-80, and auctioned them to fans after the game. The Owls’ 1978-79 squad posted a remarkable 50-21-9 record before losing in the Turner Cup Finals to Kalamazoo in seven games.
Three Stars: 1. GR Emmerton (two goals, two assists); 2. GR McCollum (W, 31 saves, SO); 3. GR Pulkkinen (two assists)
The Griffins also posted a Flickr photo gallery and a highlight clip which includes all three fights and post-game interviews:
In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye won for the second time in two nights, too, defeating the Evansville IceMen 5-2. Wings prospects played a big role in the proceedings, with Marek Tvrdon scoring 2 goals, Martin Frk scoring a goal, Trevor Parkes adding an assist, Max Nicastro finishing at +1, Louis-Marc Aubry finishing at -2 and Richard Nedomlel taking a whopping 19 minutes in penalties thanks to a fight, a pair of roughing penalties and a 10-minute misconduct.
The Walleye's website recounts the game's events...
The Walleye scored four unanswered goals in the third period to beat Evansville 5-2 Saturday night at the Huntington Center. Toledo has an overall record of 7-11-3-0 and is 5-5-0-0 at home this season.
The IceMen would strike first as Matt Schepke tapped a pass through Hannu Toivonen at 13:19 of the first period. Toledo would tie the game when Martin Frk tipped a pass in at 17:22 for his 5th goal of the season.
“We never gave up tonight,” said Head Coach Nick Vitucci. “Another great performance from our penalty kill was the big key. It gave us an opportunity to come back in the third.”
Evansville collected the lead at 19:45 of the second period when former Walleye defenseman Matt Krug deflected a shot past Toivonen. In the third period, the Walleye would break through and even the score when Marek Tvrdon blasted a shot past Garrett Bartus at 9:57 for his 7th goal of the year.
The Walleye would take the lead when David Gilbert made a move and backhanded in his second goal of the season at 12:34. Tvrdon would get another as his shot deflected in at 14:59. Alden Hirschfeld would get the empty net goal at 19:41 to cap the scoring.
Walleye Notes: Goaltender Hannu Toivonen made 32 saves on 34 shots in net for Toledo. Toivonen has a record of 2-3-0-0 this year. Toledo has won back to back games for the first time this year.
And the Walleye posted a highlight clip as well:
“What a great third period by everybody,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “Our fans deserved this. These two emotional wins, especially this one tonight the way we came back … should give us huge momentum. We've been looking for something to go our way and hopefully now it's swinging in our direction.”
The Walleye (7-11-3) had snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over Evansville (12-6-3) on Friday on the strength of three first-period goals. But Toledo trailed 2-1 and the IceMen were awarded three penalties in the third period.
Yet the Walleye tied it up on Marek Tvrdon's slap shot after a mad scramble in front of the Evansville net. David Gilbert got the assist on the goal that tied it at 2 with 10:03 left.
The Walleye took a 3-2 lead on Gilbert's goal with 7:26 remaining. Gilbert showed great patience and skill to get Evansville goalie Garrett Bartus out of position on the game winner.
Toledo was 0 of 3 on the power play. Evansville finished 0 of 6. The IceMen had a 5 on 3 advantage for 39 seconds while leading 2-1 with 15:36 left.
“Getting out of those penalties was a lift in itself,” Vitucci said. “We know we have offense in this locker room. We certainly did that in this game.”
Elsewhere, in Sweden's SHL, Mattias Backman had an assist and finished at +3 in 17:45 of ice time in Linkopings HC's 6-2 win over Vaxjo;
Back on this side of the pond, in the QMJHL, the Val-d'Or Foreurs were without Canadian World Junior camp participant Anthony Mantha, and the Foreurs dropped a 5-4 OT decision to Drummondville;
In the OHL, the Saginaw Spirit don't have Jake Paterson's services as he's with Mantha in Toronto, and the Spirit dropped a 5-1 decision to Kitchener;
Andreas Athanasiou was held off the scoresheet in the Barrie Colts' 4-3 win over Windsor;
And Zach Nastasiuk didn't register a point in his Owen Sound Attack's 4-0 loss to the Guelph Storm, who don't have Tyler Bertuzzi in the lineup due to an "upper-body injury";
In the WHL, Mitchell Wheaton scored a goal in the Kelowna Rockets' 5-4 OT win over Regina;
Marc McNulty had an assist and racked up 14 penalty minutes thanks to a pair of minors and a game misconduct during the Prince George Cougars' 6-3 loss to Spokane;
Update: The Canadian World Junior team defeated a "team of Toronto-area university selects" on Saturday, and Jake Paterson and Zach Fucale split the shutout, as the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan noted:
Josh Anderson, one of the few players in the selection camp who was not at the summer camp in Lake Placid, and Charles Hudon, into an empty net, also scored for Canada. Zac Fucale, who started in goal, and Jake Paterson combined to make 20 saves in the shutout.
That both Fucale and Paterson played on the Canadian side was not an afterthought. In the past when Canada has had exhibition games against university teams, goalies trying out for Canada have played for the university club as well. “It’s part of being a team and we wanted our team to be together,” Sutter said. “Our goalies play with each other, not against each other.”
Koshan also snagged a Maple Leaf-friendly quote from Anthony Mantha:
[Fredrik] Gauthier is lauded for his ability to defend and we saw that in the opening 20 minutes when he gathered the puck in Canada’s end, skipped past a CIS forechecker and moved it out of harm’s way. “He is such a hard player to go against,” said Anthony Mantha, who often does when their teams meet in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. “Big body, blocks many shots. To beat him, you need to play even harder than he does.”
They're leaving for Malmo, Sweden today, as the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran noted...
The team will skip practice Sunday in favour of off-ice workouts. The entire 25-man squad will head to Europe on Sunday evening with the three cuts coming overseas. That avoids the tear parade before Canadian cameras that has caused such anguish the past few years.
And the Postmedia News's Daniel Nugent-Hopkins noted that Mantha's a scoring threat on the wing for a team heavy with centers--and he reports that Wings director of player Development Tyler Wright has been watching Mantha and Paterson play:
All Mantha seemingly does is contribute offensively. He scored 50 goals for the Quebec league’s Val-d’Or Foreurs last season. But as a 6-foot-5, 204-pound lanky player, his skating has been called into question.
“It looks like I’m not as fast as other people,” Mantha said. “But when I get the puck or when I’m on the backcheck, I have the same speed or even more than other guys.”
Director of player development Tyler Wright has no issue with his skating. As a former Columbus Blue Jackets forward, Wright sees shades of Rick Nash when he watches Mantha.
“He has the ability to win a game with his hockey sense and his skill level,” said Wright, adding he’s excited to watch the winger on the big ice overseas.
Wright also noted that Mantha’s all-around game has improved considerably since training camp. Mantha admitted he’s more committed than he was in the past.
“It’s being an everyday-er,” he said. “For me, it was something that I had to learn.”
The Longueuil, Que., native has 35 goals and 73 points this season in just 32 games. He had a 23-point lead on Canadian teammate Jonathan Drouin before selection camp began.
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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.