GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — The Griffins feel like they are right back where they belong.
Grand Rapids defeated the Rockford IceHogs 4-2 Sunday afternoon at Van Andel Arena to retake first place in the Midwest Division. Thomas McCollum stopped 31 shots to give the Griffins a one point lead over the IceHogs in the AHL standings.
It didn’t take long for the Griffins to get on the board. Landon Ferraro buried home his first of the night 2:12 into the first period after a nice set up by fellow linemates Trevor Parkes and Jeff Hoggan. Exactly 10 minutes later though, the IceHogs were on the board when Andrew Shaw tipped Dylan Olsen’s shot past McCollum to tie the game at 1-1.
Grand Rapids would retake the lead early in the second period, when Joakim Andersson threw a puck from behind the net that bounced off the back leg of Rockford goaltender Alec Richards and into the net. Then in the third, Brendan Smith gave the Griffins some breathing room when his shot from the top of the right circle deflected off a Rockford defender to make it a 3-1 game. All four of Smith’s goals this season have come against Rockford.
Rockford’s Marcus Kruger scored late in the third with his team’s goaltender pulled while the Griffins had two men in the penalty box to make it a one-goal game again. Ferraro would add the insurance with his second goal of the night, an empty-netter, to give the Griffins a two-goal win.
The two rivals showed no love lost in this one, combining for 132 penalty minutes that included three different fights. The Griffins next game is Friday, December 14 against the Peoria Rivermen at Van Andel Arena.