By Aaron Nelson
SAN JOSE, CA - The Grand Rapids Griffins (2-1) returned to SAP Center on Friday for the first time since eliminating the San Jose Barracuda (1-1) from the Western Conference Finals last spring, and jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first 40 minutes and held on in the final frame for a 7-3 win.
The Griffins took early control with a goal from Dominic Turgeon (2) at 18:09 from just a few feet in front of San Jose netminder Troy Grosenick. San Jose struggled to get out of their own end throughout the first period, eventually allowing a second goal by the Griffins' Corey Elkins (1) at the 9:14 mark. Despite knocking a pair of shots off the post and finishing with only a 10-12 disadvantage on shots, San Jose failed to find the back of the net prior to the buzzer.
In the second period, the Griffins continued to dominate offensively, knocking in a third goal just over two minutes into the period off an aggressive attack by forward Turner Elson(2). San Jose stiffened defensively for a time, but couldn't hold during a Power Play initiated by a massive center-ice hit by Dan Renouf on San Jose's Manuel Wiederer. The Barracuda ultimately gave up back-to-back goals by Matt Lorito (9:16) and then Matt Carey (7:30) giving the Griffins a commanding 5-0 lead entering the final period.
San Jose closed the game with their strongest period of play offensively thanks, in part, to a spark provided by a strong performance by defensemen Jacob Middleton in a skirmish with Griffins forward Matt Carey. After giving up a second goal to Turgeon (3) at 15:19, the Barracuda finally put points on the board as Brandon Mashinter (1) jammed home a rebound at 7:55 and Radim Simek (1) netted his first of the year on a three-on-two feed from Adam Helewka. Grand Rapids' Elson (3) put away his second goal of the night at 6:40 before the Barracuda would find the net for the game's final goal, coming from Brandon Bollig (1) with 3:45 remaining.
Jared Coreau (2-0) earned the victory by making 26 saves on 29 shots, while Grosenick (1-1) took the loss after allowing five goals on 21 shots in two periods of work. Antoine Bibeau worked the final 20 minutes and allowed three goals on five shots.
The Barracuda will be back at SAP Center Saturday Oct. 14 as they take on the San Antonio Rampage at 1:15 p.m. Tickets start at just $10 and can be purchased at SJBarracuda.com/tickets.