The excitement leading up to Saturday was pretty intense. It was the second time being asked to be the official photog for the Griffin’s since I started shooting this season - both an honor, and an adrenaline rush, if you will, to know that an organization likes your stuff enough, and trusts you enough to capture the moments that will give those seeking the game recap the visual of what happened that night.
Couple this evening with fan-choice Tatar bobble head night, and a potential playoff berth, you had yourself a pretty big crowd with hopes of a BIG night - the Griffins didn’t let them down, even with ultimately taking the loss in OT.
Not long after the game got underway, I started thinking to myself that we were going to come away with a handful or more of broken noses. Left and right guys were thrown into the boards, a few of which were slow to get up off the ice, and then two of those needing the attention of their respective
Bruton. Pare dropped the gloves because Bruton executed a nasty hit on teammate, Nathan Paetsch. Pare left the ice and spent the remaining seconds of the first in the Griffins’ dressing room.
The hits and aggravation on both sides continued to escalate in intensity as the game continued into the start of the second period as the Griffins had much riding on this game. Less than a minute in, Peoria notched one past Mrazek to take the lead. A few minutes later, once the Pare/Bruton fighting penalties expired, both were face to face once again on the ice. This time, teammate Brennan Evans stepped in to fight Bruton. Evans and Bruton went round and round, firing up the crowd. Needless to say, Bruton got his ass kicked – he skated off the ice, blood dripping from his face. This time, tempers were flaring on both benches. Words were exchanged from player to player, players to coaches, coaches to coaches and vice versa. This was a first for me, ending up directly between a
coaches’ spat. Something about interference, something about ass kicking, something-something, perhaps a “Lift: Do you do it?!” type in there to boot. To say that both teams were heated less than half way through the 2nd would be a complete and utter understatement. This would be a good thing though, because Landon Ferraro would go on to score TWO goals in 20 seconds to give the Griffins the lead. Soon after his second, teammate, Mitch Callahan was shoving back and forth with the Rivermen’s Della Rovere. A shoving match that escalated after the ensuing faceoff, when
they decided to square off. These two were pretty well matched, Callahan managed to land a few good hits before being sent to the penalty box. It might (or might not – remember, I’m writing you’re not :o) ) be worth mentioning that Callahan joined Evans in the box where I’m sure good times were had by all. Later in the period, Peoria’s Lajunen tied up the score with a rebound on Mrazek.
Into the third, Pare managed to exact his revenge, and complete his Gordie Howe Hat Trick by scoring a goal against Peoria’s netminder McKenna. With less than four minutes to play, Griffins were forced to fight off a delay of game penalty, then had a pile up at the net resulting in a Peoria goal by Chorney, due to refs not blowing their whistles.
Overtime didn’t last long, unfortunately. Griffin’s Tatar attempted to take the puck through neutral ice, but was tripped up and lost it just inside the Peoria zone. This gave the Rivermen’s Hakanpaa an opening and the opportunity to take the puck up the right side and sneak one past Mrazek for the win.
While I’m saddened by the loss, I am proud of the many victories from this night. The Griffins did a great job dropping the gloves, Pare with his Gordie Howe Hat Trick, and of course learning that the Griffs secured their first Calder Cup Playoffs berth since 2009, despite the loss.
Disclaimer: I don’t typically analyze or verbally recap games. I’m not the best at telling/retelling stories – it’s a sad fact, but it’s also the reason why I carry a camera.