A resounding 5-0 win over the Cleveland Barons on Tuesday gave the Grand Rapids Griffins something they haven’t enjoyed in more than two months – a share of third place in the West Division.
The Griffins’ victory created a three-way logjam with Houston and Cincinnati at 77 points, the first time since Jan. 21 that they’ve stood so high in the standings. Although the Ducks possess a game in hand, Grand Rapids (37-30-2-1) owns the tiebreaker advantage among the teams by virtue of its 37 wins, heading into the final 10 games of the regular season.
Jeff Panzer enjoyed a three-point night including a pair of goals, Kip Miller notched four assists and Joey MacDonald made 22 saves to record his fifth shutout of the season. The Griffins, who posted their fourth win in their last five home outings, continue their homestand against Utah on Friday and Saturday.
Grand Rapids scored its five goals on just 12 shots against starting Barons goaltender Nolan Schaefer, who was lifted at the 11:35 mark of the second period. Dimitri Patzold stopped all eight shots he faced in relief.
Cleveland’s loss kept them four points out of the final playoff spot in the North Division, currently held by Hamilton. The Barons (31-32-2-6) are also two points back of fifth-place Syracuse.
MILWAUKEE 3, UTAH 2 (OT)
Simon Gamache scored on a power play 49 seconds into overtime to give Milwaukee a 3-2 win over Utah.
Gamache’s goal, his 27th of the season, allowed the Admirals to move to within one point of division-leading Chicago in the West.
Jerred Smithson and Bryan Lundbohm also scored for Milwaukee, while Mike Garrow and Peter White answered for the Grizzlies.
Brian Finley earned the win with 21 saves; David LeNeveu took the loss despite stopping 37 shots.