The AHL‘s Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) head into tonight’s Midwest Division showdown with the Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues) on a seven-game winning streak, but will face a tough test in a Rivemen team that has rattled off four wins in their last five games.
Both teams won their games last night in exciting fashion. The Griffins battled back-and-forth with the Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks) and gave their home crowd a 4-3 win after Tomas Tatar (above) scored a late goal. The Rivermen also got a home win, as Ian Cole’s goal in the last minute of play and shootout goals from Jaden Schwartz and T. J. Hensick carried the team to a 5-4 win.
The Griffins offense was led by Tatar’s two goals, while Mitch Callahan and Chad Billins each found the back of the net for the first time this season. Francis Pare extended his point streak to five games with an assist on Billins’ goal. Rookie netminder Petr Mrazek picked up the win, stopping 25 shots. Tatar and Billins are tied for second on the team in scoring, each with 15 points, while Gustav Nyquist continues to lead the way with eight goals and 18 points. With Mrazek playing last night and likely starting the home game tomorrow afternoon, Tom McCollum could get the nod in goal tonight for Grand Rapids.
Mike McKenna picked up his first win for the Rivermen, stopping 26 shots. Jake Allen will likely be the starter for tonight’s contest. The offensive charge for Peoria continues to come from Hensick, who has 18 points in 17 games. Cole and Anthony Peluso have emerged as Blues prospects to watch as they continue to improve their play. Mark Cundari had three assists Wednesday vs. the Rockford Ice Hogs (Chicago Blackhawks).
The Griffins killed off six penalties Friday night, and continue to find their power play ranked near the top of the league. Both teams have had a majority of their games decided by one goal, and this is the second of 10 meetings between the two this season. The Griffins won the first meeting of the season 5-3, coming back after finding themselves down by two goals early in the first period. Grand Rapids will host the Admirals on Sunday, while the Rivermen are off until Dec. 1 when they travel to Chicago.