Griffins unmask Monsters, win 5-3 on Teddy Bear Toss night

The Grand Rapids Griffins acted as if they were inspired by the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving as they scored five unanswered goals during the third period, rallied back from a 3-0 deficit and stunned the Cleveland Monsters 5-3 on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

After a scoreless first period, the Monsters’ Brett Gallant knocked in a rebound off his own pass to Alan Pushalaj, who was denied by Griffins goalie Eddie Pasquale, who received his first home start of the 2016-17 campaign. At the 14:42 mark, Oliver Bjorkstrand put in a tough angled shot of Pasquale’s stick for a 2-0 lead. Not long thereafter, Bjorkstrand sent a backhanded shot past Pasquale at 17:24 for his second goal and a 3-0 lead that looked insurmountable.

Teddy bears finally got their chance to fly like Griffins in the third period after a wait of 43:08 of ice time and two intermissions. Brian Lashoff scored at 3:08 of the third, sending a cascade of stuffed animals on to the ice for the Griffins’ 17th annual Teddy Bear Toss for Hug-A-Bears of Kent County. Less than two minutes later, Martin Frk tipped in a Dan Renouf shot to inch the Griffins closer at 3-2. Kyle Criscuolo tied the game with a power-play goal at 10:28 and put the Griffin’s fans back on the edge of their seat.

Five seconds into another power-play, this one for roughing by former Griffin Sheldon Brookbank, Tomas Nosek won a draw in the zone, followed Ben Street’s shot to the net and lit the lamp for the game-winner. Mitch Callahan added an empty net tally at 19:02 to send the 8,901 fans in attendance out with a bonus goal.

The Griffins (10-6-0-0), who are now 3-0 against the reigning Calder Cup champion Monsters (6-9-1-1) this season, tied their home record for goals in a period by scoring all five in the final 20 minutes and were one shy of their record for shots in a period, putting 23 on goal. The teams have a “Quicken Loans Arena” turnaround as they’ll meet in Cleveland on Saturday night in the second game of their home-and-home series.

Three Stars:

  1. GR Nosek (game-winning goal)
  2. CLE Bjorkstrand (two goals)
  3. GR Criscuolo (power play goal, assist)

The 3-Point Turn:

  1. The Griffins finished 2-for-7 on the power play and are now 12 of 40 (30%) during their seven-game power-play goal-scoring streak.
  2. GR last scored five goals in a home period (2nd) on Dec. 27, 2014 versus Iowa.
  3. Pasquale’s last time on the Van Andel ice was on Nov. 6, 2010. He stopped 28 of 31 shots for the Chicago Wolves in a 4-2 loss to the Griffins.