5 takeaways: Grand Rapids Griffins snap Chicago’s 7-game winning streak
GRAND RAPIDS – The Grand Rapids Griffins extended their winning streak when they shot at the Van Andel Arena in Chicago on Friday night.
Here are five takeaways from Friday’s win:
1) Grand Rapids beat the Wolves 4-1 for the fourth straight year, a winning streak that began after the Griffins opened the season with two losses to Chicago on the road. The defeat was the first of the season for the Wolves, who fell to 7-1.
The win showed how far the Griffins have come in the first three weeks of the season.
“We are starting to build into our identity as a team and to see what we need to do to be successful,” said Griffins coach Ben Simon. “Obviously the boys are happy. We’ve done a lot of good things and they’re a good ice hockey team. We are satisfied with our performance. Of course there is still a lot to do, but we will have a schedule for training tomorrow and we will strive for it tomorrow. “
2) Riley Barber scored two of the Grand Rapids goals. His first came at 3:59 of the first period to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead. Grand Rapids then scored two goals in the first 2:02 of the second. Dominick Shine put the Griffins 2-0 up just 44 seconds in the second, and moments later, Barber scored his second goal.
“I think it’s a mix of things,” said Barber of his preseason success. “The COVID thing that is happening and getting really excited about playing a game again, going out and doing what you love is a privilege. I think as I get older I get a little more sentimental about the amount of time I have to play.
“I immediately felt welcomed by the guys in the locker room. I can’t remember a team that was as close as we are. We have a lot of fun every day. Really fun getting to the ice rink. It’s a good combination of lots of different people and we’re having a really good time. “
3) Goalkeeper Kevin Boyle made 22 saves as the Griffins killed five power play opportunities in Chicago.
“I thought Boyle would be solid for all these kills,” said Simon. “We have a goalkeeper who closed the door with big saves. There was one big rescue at the start of Stage One when it spurted out and Kevin stuck his left leg out and got a great chunk of it. It was just a big rescue at the beginning of the game that helped build a little bit of confidence. “
4) Chicago struck quickly in the third period when the Wolves’ Rem Pitlick scored 42 seconds in the period. However, the Griffins never let the wolves come back into play. Givani Smith finally iced it up with a 6:07 pm goal.
“With a three-goal lead you never want to give up early in the third game,” said Simon. “But it showed that we have a lot of leaders on this team. We have a lot of people who have played in this league and have played at Grand Rapids for a long time and are really good players. You go through the list of our lineup. I think we have dealt with how good it is to look at that goal for the future. We stayed on course and kept working. “
5) The Grand Rapids homestand is now over. The Griffins will see Chicago back on the streets at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Griffins will return to Van Andel on March 13 against Rockford.
“We play ten times (Chicago) this year,” said Simon. “We will see her again, again, again. But they are a good team. You are a young team. You have a lot of depth. They have seen defenders and their goalkeeper is great. “