Rockford, Ill. – In front of a sold-out crowd on Teddy Bear Toss Night, the Grand Rapids Griffins (12-8-0-1) snapped the Rockford IceHogs (17-6-1-2) five-game winning streak in a 4-1 decision Saturday night.
The Griffins struck first when Andreas Athanasiou nailed a one-timer past Michael Leighton off a pass from Anthony Mantha on a two-on-one rush. Mantha fired the puck from the left wing and hit Anathasiou in the slot for his seventh goal of the season at 7:59.
With close to five minutes left in the opening frame, teddy bears fell like snow on the ice. Jeremy Morin fired a shot off a shin guard, gathered his own rebound, and picked the top corner of the net for a shorthanded strike to tie the game at 1-1. Jake Dowell was credited with an assist on Morin’s teddy bear goal, extending his point streak to six consecutive games (4g-6a).
The second period was nothing short of a goalie duel, as each goaltender made several spectacular saves. Jared Coreau made a huge save midway through the frame when he stopped Tanner Kero on a point-blank chance to keep the game tied at one. Leighton matched him save-for-save, turning away all 13 shots he faced in the second.
After nearly 29 minutes of scoreless play following Morin’s goal, Tyler Bertuzzi finally broke the deadlock, capitalizing on a rebound to give the Griffins a 2-1 lead 4:19 in the third period.
Grand Rapids doubled their advantage at 11:57 of the final frame of the game. Andy Miele threw a puck on goal, and Eric Tangradi pulled the rebound off Leighton’s pads to put the puck in the back of the net. Mantha finished off the scoring at 4-1 with a 200-foot empty-net goal.
The loss snapped Rockford’s season-long five-game winning streak which dated back to Dec. 2. Meanwhile, Grand Rapids continued their surge up the standings with their 10th-straight win.
Thanks to the generous donations of those who came out to the teddy bear toss, 2,287 stuffed animals will be making their way to local hospitals and charities to brighten the holidays for countless children.
Next Home Game: Monday, Dec. 21 vs. Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m. The first 2,500 fans through the turnstiles will receive a Teuvo Teravainen Bobblehead thanks to Dental Dimensions. It’s also another “Winning Weekday.” Every time the IceHogs win at home on a weekday, each fan in attendance will get a free ticket to the next weekday game. Fans can also enjoy $2 beers, sodas, hot dogs, and companion tickets.