Griffins drop both games in Charlotte over weekend

The Grand Rapids Griffins found themselves agonizing in defeat on both Friday and Saturday night, losing consecutive games to the Charlotte Checkers.

102816-jensenAfter falling behind 2-0 on Friday behind goals from Griffins Mike Borkowski and Anthony Mantha, Charlotte scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-2 victory at Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, NC.

Borkowski scored his first goal for Grand Rapids just 3 minutes into the game and Mantha, an early season favorite for all-AHL honors, scored his seventh goal in six games less than two minutes later to take the AHL lead in goals scored this season.

Charlotte, though, kept the Griffins in check and found their way to the back of the net in the second period.  Keegan Lowe (7:38) and Sergey Tolchinsky (9:05) scored to even the contest and Brock McGinn scored with less than one second remaining before the second intermission to give the Checkers their first lead of the night.

McGinn put the finishing touch on the game when his “king me” goal doubled up the Griffins found the empty net in the final minute of play. Jared Coreau started his sixth consecutive game to begin the season and stopped 28 of 31 shots as the Griffins (4-2-0-0) lost only their second game of the season.

Renouf fights for position with a Checkers defender.
The Griffins’ Dan Renouf fights for position with a Checkers defender on Saturday night in Charlotte.

On Saturday night, Checkers goalie Michael Leighton stopped each and every of the 30 shots he faced for his AHL-record 47th career shutout and a 3-0 Charlotte victory. Valentin Zykov scored first and Derek Ryan added two goals, one in an empty net, against Griffins’ goalie Eddie Pasquale, who was in net giving Coreau a much-need night off.

Pasquale stopped 28 of 30 shots in his first start with Grand Rapids, who move to 4-3-0-0.

In other news around the AHL, former Griffins winger Teemu Pulkkinen was assigned to the Iowa Wild by their parent club, Minnesota Wild, on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Pulkkinen helped the Griffins to the 2013-14 Calder Cup championship scoring 59 points (31 goals, 28 assists) in 71 games. He followed that up by winning the Willie Marshall Award in 2014-15, scoring 34 goals in 46 games as the league’s top goal-scorer.

The Vantaa, Finland native was taken by the Griffins’ parent club, Detroit Red Wings, in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The Griffins begin a four-game home stand on Friday against the Wild at Van Andel Arena at 7 p.m. with Pulkkinen and former Griffin Jeff Hoggan expected to play for Iowa on Arcade Night, with tributes and themes directed toward the 8-bit and 16-bit video game generations.