Jared Coreau opened the season with 27 saves in goal and Mitch Callahan scored twice as the Grand Rapids Griffins beat the Chicago Wolves 3-1 on Friday in their 2016-17 season opener at a sold-out Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins were heavy in the offensive zone early in the first period and thought they had scored on a Joe Hicketts’ snapshot at the 6:45 mark, but it was waved off because of a dislodged Wolves’ net.
Callahan would redirect a Kyle Criscuolo shot into the net just a few moments later to give the Griffins their first goal and lead of the season.
Starting the second period, Anthony Mantha sent the puck home on a power play just 35 seconds in for a 2-0 GR lead. Matt Lorito’s assist on the Mantha goal was his first point as a Griffin having just come over from Albany this year.
The Wolves found the scoreboard marker when Landon Ferraro fed Brett Sterling who beat Coreau at 15:17 of the second period, trimming the lead to 2-1. Coreau would stone Sterling at the net early in the third period to save the lead and enact a little bit of revenge for the previous goal.
Late in the game, the Wolves pulled goalie Jordan Binnington and Callahan put away an empty net goal, his 80th in a Griffins uniform(145 points).
Less than a minute into the third period, Coreau preserved that one-goal advantage by robbing Sterling with a glove save at the right post while sprawled face-down on the ice, drawing a wry smile and a few admiring words from Sterling as the Wolves’ sniper skated off.
Hicketts, Dominic Turgeon and Dylan Sadowy made their pro debuts.
1. GR Coreau (W, 27 saves)
2. GR Callahan (two goals)
3. GR Mantha (power play goal)
Grand Rapids sold out their 21st consecutive home opener with 10,834 in attendance. (Yes, that’s a sellout every year they’ve been in existence.)