Stephanie Sokol for The Pit
Grand Rapids Griffins Goaltender Tom McCollum’s 35-save performance helped his team take down the Charlotte Checkers 2-1 Sunday at The Time Warner Cable Arena.
With two games left on their schedule, Charlotte (37-34-1-2) started the game tied at 77 points for the eighth Western Conference playoff spot, with both the Rockford IceHogs and Oklahoma City Barons. This loss leaves playoff chances low. After today, Rockford has one game in hand to Charlotte, while Oklahoma City has two.
Grand Rapids (46-22-2-4) is two points away from the century mark, and could clinch the Midwest Division Title if the Chicago Wolves lose to the IceHogs tonight.
The Griffins return Van Andel Arena for their regular season home finale against the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday, before wrapping up their 76-game schedule with a match against Lake Erie on Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.
13:51 into the first, Charlotte’s Philippe Cornet took Matthew Corrente’s rebound and sent the puck past a sprawled out McCollum, leaving the Checkers up 1-0.
The Griffins turned the tables at 19:21, as Cory Emmerton got the puck past Checkers netminder John Muse, tying up the game 1-1. Grand Rapids had been scoreless again him for 139:21 up until Emmerton’s goal tonight.
The game-winner, again on Muse, was scored by Trevor Parkes at 11:05 of the second period, when he sent Nathan Paetsch’s rebound air-bound, past teh goaltender’s shoulder, put put the Griffins ahead 2-1.
Later in the second, Paetsch sent the puck into Muse’s cage, but it was called off for goaltender interference, after Landon Ferraro got into it with Mark Flood, who nudged him and sent him on top of Muse right before Paetsch’s shot.
While the third period remained scoreless, it was action-packed, with McCollum turning away all of the Checker’s 14 shots. Five tosses of the puck at Muse occurred before he was pulled in the last few minutes of the game for an extra attacker.
At the last minute, the Checkers came close to tying the game, but McCollum stopped all goals, earning first-star honors with 35 saves, while Muse had 25.
Notes from the Grand Rapids Griffins: Defenseman Ryan Sproul made his NHL debut with Detroit this afternoon, becoming the 145th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. 16 former Griffins were on Detroit’s roster in its 3-0 road victory over the St. Louis Blues. Petr Mrazek earned a 23-save shutout in the Wings’ final regular season game, his second shutout for the club in 11 career NHL games.