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By: Mike Peck
Photo by Mark Newman

First place showdown goes Griffins way

Grand Rapids, Mich.- With first place on the line, the Rockford IceHogs will return home in second place. Rockford dropped a 3-1 decision on New Year's Eve to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Monday at Van Andel Arena.

Monday marked the fourth game of the season in Grand Rapids for Rockford and in all four, the IceHogs coughed up an early goal. On Monday Landon Ferraro followed a Jeff Hoggan shot and buried his tenth goal of the season just 2:06 into the frame. The Hogs allowed a goal within 2:16 of the opening faceoff in all four games at Van Andel this season.

In the second frame the IceHogs tied the score 1-1 on the power play. Dylan Olsen picked off a Grand Rapids clear out attempt just inside the Griffins blueline and beat Petr Mrazek low glove side at 6:14 for his first goal of the season.

But a Grand Rapids power-play goal put them back on top less than ten minutes later. Tomas Tatar fired home a Gustav Nyquist pass over the shoulder of Carter Hutton at 16:02 for his 12th goal of the season.

Tatar extended that lead to 3-1 in the third. Rockford's Nick Leddy was denied by Mrazek in transition and the loose puck sprung Tatar the other way. The winger would crank home his second goal, beating Hutton shortside with his second tally of the night at 10:00 of the third.

That's all that Grand Rapids needed as they held the Hogs at bay the rest of the way. Mrazek earned the win with 28 saves while Hutton was handed the loss despite blocking 25 Griffins attempts.

Next Home Game: Wednesday, Jan. 9 vs. Grand Rapids. Puck drop is 7:05 p.m. After four straight contests in Grand Rapids, the IceHogs and Griffins finally meet in Rockford. Wednesday is another WXRX Dollar Day as fans can take advantage of dollar beers, hot dogs, soft drinks and companion tickets.  

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