Grand Rapids Griffins 7 Chicago Wolves 5
By: Nick Kapetan
If any game symbolized perfectly how important it is to get out of the gate quickly, this contest was it. Right from the start the Wolves’ defenders appeared flat, losing the puck in the neutral zone constantly. All season long the Wolves’ defense has been an issue, but usually the offense picks up the slack. This was not the case as the Grand Rapids Griffins tallied five unanswered goals.
“We did not come out ready to play” proclaimed Coach Don Lever. “There was no bite or urgency on either side of the puck.”
After the first period the Wolves were down four goals which resulted in goalie Drew MacIntyre being benched. Two of the goals MacIntyre allowed were off of rebounds directed right in front of the net. Once Peter Mannino took over between the pipes, the fast pace offense of the Griffins began to subside. The Wolves eventually got on the scoreboard with a goal by the birthday boy, Nigel Dawes, his twenty sixth of the season.
Entering the third period the Wolves were still at a four point disadvantage. As the final frame began to unfold, a new found momentum was evident in the Wolves. The team began to create more shots, and capitalized on them. Goals by Riley Holzapfel (6th) and Andrew Kozek (8th) instilled a fresh energy in the home team. However, the slow start by the Wolves came back to bite them. Chicago scored two more times, Ryan Garbutt (13th) and Darren Haydar (19th) but still came up short. The Griffins found the back of the net twice after the Wolves’ run, which resulted in seven total goals.
“We had a tough hole to dig out of” explained Center Ryan Garbutt. “We stayed positive but we still did not have enough offensive fire power.”
With only six points separating the top seven teams in the West Division, the Wolves know that these are must win games. The loss proved to the team, once again, that they must play sixty minutes of hockey every night if they want to shrink the gap, and make a postseason run.