Rockford spoils Calvin Pickard’s return to Grand Rapids Griffins

Calvin Pickard scored 20 saves in his first game with the Grand Rapids Griffins in more than a year on Tuesday night at the Van Andel Arena.

Pickard’s solid performance wasn’t enough, however. Rockford’s Dylan McLaughlin scored 19 seconds in extra time to give the IceHogs a 2-1 win. McLaughlin, who beat the Griffins with an overtime goal on Saturday, found a loose puck in the right circle and threw it over Pickard for the game winner.

Pickard, 28, was transferred to Grand Rapids on Monday. He had played in one game for the Detroit Red Wings and had taken 19 of 21 reliefs against Tampa Bay on February 3. Pickard played 33 games with the Griffins in the 2019-2020 season, hitting a 17-12-4 record with a GAA of 2.86, a savings of 0.903 percent and three exclusions.

Grand Rapids took a 1-0 lead with a goal from Chase Pearson 10:26 in the first half. Dylan McIIlrath shot down and found Pearson. But the IceHogs tied it 1:15 to the second when Gabriel Gagne tapped McLaughlin’s feed from the left.

The Griffins the IceHogs 47-21, but Rockford received another strong performance from goalkeeper Matt Tomkins. Tomkins hit a career high of 46 saves, breaking his previous high of 42 against Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Griffin’s Notes:

• The Griffins have scored points in all four home games this season (2-0-2-0), plus four straight games (2-0-2-0) and eight of their last nine games total (6-1-2) -0) and in each of her five clashes with Rockford (3-0-2-0). • In the five-game season, Grand Rapids have now surpassed Rockford by a margin of 200-96. • Turner Elson made his 200th regular season appearance as Griffin, one game after McIlrath did the same.

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