The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/15/14 at 02:28 AM ET
Amongst this morning's Red Wings-related prospect news:
The Grand Rapids Griffins have been engaged in a little character-building of late, which is the charitable way of stating that the team's had its ups and downs since the new year.
The return of Riley Sheahan was supposed to bolster the roster a bit, but on Friday, Grand Rapids dropped its first post-AHL-All-Star-Break game, dropping a frustrating 2-1 shootout decision to the San Antonio Rampage. The Griffins' website recounts the game's details...
An old fashioned goaltending duel went the way of the visitors on Friday, as the San Antonio Rampage grabbed a 2-1 shootout win over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena.
The Rampage, who rallied from three goals down during the third period to steal a 6-5 overtime victory over Grand Rapids on Jan. 26 in San Antonio, improved to 2-0 against the Midwest Division leaders thanks to a stellar effort by goaltender Michael Houser. The rookie turned aside 34 shots in regulation and three more during overtime before denying all four Griffins in the shootout, overshadowing Tom McCollum’s similarly strong 33-save effort.
These teams will complete their weekend set with a 7 p.m. rematch on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
Following a scoreless opening period, the Griffins (30-15-2-3) applied pressure on Houser early in the second and broke through at the 4:30 mark, when Ryan Sproul found Teemu Pulkkinen for an easy backdoor goal. But Grand Rapids’ lead lasted only 54 seconds, as Bobby Butler picked off an Adam Almquist pass at the point, skated to the top of the right circle and whistled a rising shot on net that glanced off the chest of Drew Shore and snuck inside the right post.
Each squad continued to rack up shots – including 18 by Grand Rapids in the second and 13 by San Antonio in the third – only to be thwarted time and again by the opposing netminder.
When the game justly reached its shootout conclusion, Butler and Shore were each able to solve McCollum, while Houser turned back Almquist, Louis-Marc Aubry, Cory Emmerton and Calle Jarnkrok in succession to seize the extra point for the Rampage (20-21-3-5).
Despite still being under 0.500 for the season, San Antonio has now earned points in nine consecutive games (5-0-2-2). By contrast, the Griffins remain 15 games above break-even overall but have dropped four straight at home (0-3-0-1).
The Griffins posted a Flickr photo gallery and a slate of highlights and post-game interviews...
And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with an unhappy Griffins team after their loss:
“I didn’t think we were tight enough defensively as you need to be to limit chances,” [Griffins coach Jeff Blashill] said as the Griffins fall to 30-15-2-3 and 2-3 in shootouts.
San Antonio, which is 20-21-3-5 and entered just 6-14-0-3 on the road, improved to 8-5 in shootouts. They also defeated the Griffins 6-5 in overtime Jan. 26.
“Last time we were up and they just kind of came back on us,” said defenseman Ryan Sproul. “This time I think we were more tight but just didn’t get the win.”Riley Sheahan played with the Griffins for the first time since Jan. 8. He played on a line with Landon Gerraro and Cory Emmerton. He had two shots.
Wallner also reports that the Griffins have been skating without their tough guys of late:
The Griffins continue to play without wingers Jordin Tootoo and Tristen Grant. Tootoo left the Feb. 5 game against Lake Erie with a lower body injury, and has missed the past three games. Blashill said he should return to practice Monday. Grant has missed five consecutive games with an upper body injury and will be back playing next weekend, Blashill said.
In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye also had a difficult evening, losing 5-2 to the Kalamazoo K-Wings. Jared Coreau stopped 16 of 20 shots in the Walleye net (the K-Wings scored an empty-netter), Max Nicastro had an assist but finished at -1 and Richard Nedomlel finished at +1 with 3 shots. The Walleye's website offers a game recap:
The Walleye held a 38-21 shot advantage but Toledo loses in Kalamazoo 5-2 on Friday night. Toledo has an overall record of 16-27-3-0 and is 7-16-3-0 on the road.
The Kalamazoo Wings would strike twice in the first period to lead the Walleye 2-0 after the first. Toledo held a 12-8 shot advantage in the first twenty minutes despite trailing.
“We played much better than the score would indicate,” said Head Coach Nick Vitucci. “You have to credit Kalamazoo as they took advantage of every mistake we made and their goaltender was outstanding.”
The Walleye would get the first goal of the second period when Travis Novak blew by the Kalamazoo defenseman and beat goaltender Joel Martin for his 9th goal of the season at 2:16. David Pacan would reclaim a two goal lead for the Wings at 8:37. A power play goal from Kalamazoo at 10:49 would push the Wings lead to 4-1.
The Walleye would fire 16 shots on goal in the third period and Alden Hirschfeld beat Martin with a wrist shot at 14:22 for his 7th goal of the season. Kalamazoo collected the empty net goal to finish the scoring.
Walleye Notes: Goaltender Jared Coreau made 16 saves on 20 shots in net for Toledo. Coreau has a record 1-9-3-0 on the season. Toledo is 3-5-0 against the Wings this season. The 21 shots allowed was a season low for the Walleye.
In terms of the Wings' Major Junior-playing prospects, in the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha scored a goal in the Val-d'Or Foreurs' 4-1 win over Drummondville. Mantha has registered 48 goals, 50 assists and 98 points registered over the course of 44 games played;
In the OHL, Zach Nastasiuk is out with an "upper-body injury," but his Owen Sound Attack defeated the Kingston Frontenacs 4-0;
Andreas Athanasiou's scoring continues to come in spurts: he followed up a 5-goal performance with no points and a -1 in the Barrie Colts' 3-1 loss to Erie;
Tyler Bertuzzi's having neck and back issues, so he didn't take part in the Guelph Storm's 5-3 win over Sault Ste. Marie;
And Jake Paterson stopped 27 of 29 shots and 5 of 9 shootout shooters as the Saginaw Spirit took a 3-2 shootout decision over Plymouth;
In the WHL, Marc McNulty scored a goal in his Prince George Cougars' 4-2 loss to Mitchell Wheaton's Kelowna Rockets.
Wheaton registered an assist and a +3, and he's posted 5 goals, 20 assists and 25 points over the course of 43 games played for Kelowna;
McNulty has registered 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points registered over the course of 55 games played for the Cougars;
In the BCHL, David Pope scored 2 goals in the West Kelowna Warriors' 8-5 loss to Victoria;
Update: Hockey's Future posted a YouTube-format clip of Athanasiou's 5-goal game on Thursday, too:
Update #2: The Griffins posted the following promotional release...
SALUTE TO HEROES AND TRADING CARD SET
GIVEAWAY HIGHLIGHT THREE-GAME WEEKEND
Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 vs. Oklahoma City Barons
Time: 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena (doors open at 6 p.m.).
Salute to Heroes Night: Throughout the night, the Griffins will honor local heroes including policemen, firefighters and military members. Any current member of our military can purchase up to four upper bowl tickets for $13 each (or $11 in advance at The Zone) with a valid military ID. The offer also extends to veterans who present a VA ID or discharge papers.
$2 Beers and $2 Hot Dogs: Fans can enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last.
Camouflage Jersey Auction: Fans can participate in a post-game auction of the unique red camouflage jerseys that will be worn by the Griffins.
Free Ride Friday on the Rapid: Ride the Rapid to and from any Friday game and enjoy complimentary fare by showing your ticket to the game. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps.
H&R Block College Night: College students can show their ID to purchase an upper bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden’s concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden's.
Get in the D-ZONE: Every Friday night is a Griffins D-ZONE night. Avoid the concession lines and get your $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served to you in your seats. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to get your tickets today.
Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 vs. Oklahoma City Barons
Time: 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena (doors open at 6 p.m.).
Griffins Team Trading Card Set Giveaway: 2,500 fans will receive a Griffins team trading card set.
Post-Game Open Skate: Bring your skates to the rink and take to the ice for the post-game open skate. Other post-game open skate dates include March 29 and April 18.
Fan 4 Packs: For select games, receive four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price. Valid for games on Feb. 22; March 8 and 29; and April 5. Visit griffinshockey.com/f4p or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2.
Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 vs. Milwaukee Admirals
Time: 5 p.m. at Van Andel Arena (doors open at 4 p.m.).
Sunday is Fun Day!: Fans can enjoy $1 Pepsi drinks and $1 ice cream from 3-5 p.m.
Pepsi Reading Goals: Children with Griff's Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free upper level tickets to any one of the following games: Feb. 23; March 5; April 2 and 4.
Library Nights: For every Sunday and Wednesday game, fans can present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the night of the game or at The Zone anytime during the store’s regular business hours to save $7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff ticket (regularly $18 in advance and $20 day of game). Limit four tickets per card per person, subject to availability.
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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.