Of all the birthday presents a player can give himself, a hat trick is pretty tough to beat.
Donald MacLean celebrated his 29th birthday by scoring his third goal of the night 35 seconds into overtime on Saturday, giving the Grand Rapids Griffins a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena.
After twice bringing the Griffins back from one-goal deficits during regulation, MacLean banged home a Bryan Helmer rebound from the left side to give his team its tenth win in the last 12 games (10-1-1-0). MacLean, now second in the AHL goal-scoring race with 24, set a Grand Rapids record with his third hat trick of the season.
Grand Rapids, which improved its sparkling record at Van Andel to 15-2-1-2, will continue its season-high six-game homestand with a visit by the Iowa Stars on Wednesday.
The Griffins’ season-long propensity for giving up early goals reared its head just 20 seconds in, as Milwaukee dented twine on the game’s first shot. From behind the Grand Rapids net, Scott Nichol sent a pass out front to Scottie Upshall, whose one-timer sailed over Joey MacDonald’s left shoulder.
Later in the period, less than a minute after an apparent goal by MacLean was disallowed due to a teammate’s interference with Milwaukee goaltender Pekka Rinne (37 saves), he scored one that counted on the power play from the right side at 7:29.
The Admirals regained the lead deep in the second stanza, as Darren Haydar’s sharp-angle shot from the bottom of the left circle trickled through MacDonald at 15:33, but MacLean again answered with only 5.1 seconds remaining. After taking a great lead pass from Nate DiCasmirro that sprung him on a breakway, he drew Rinne out of position with a deke before pulling the puck back to his forehand for an easy goal.
After allowing 16 shots in the opening frame, Grand Rapids outshot the Admirals 28-5 over the final 40:35 of the game.
Elsewhere on Saturday:
Jared Aulin scored 2:03 into overtime to give Hershey a 2-1 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scanton… Sean Curry scored with 58 seconds remaining in overtime to give Providence a 2-1 victory over Lowell… Ryan Shannon scored twice and added an assist as Portland beat Hartford 5-4… Mark Mancari scored two goals to lead Rochester to a 5-3 win over Hamilton… Toronto beat Chicago 5-4, helped by a pair of goals by both John Pohl and Colin Murphy… Barry Brust stopped all 20 shots he faced and Lauri Tukonen scored the game’s only goal as Manchester beat Albany 1-0… Steve Bernier scored the game winner with 16 seconds remaining in the third period to lift Cleveland to a 2-1 victory over Iowa… Binghamton scored five unanswered goals and came back from a three goal deficit to beat Bridgeport 5-3… Andy Delmore, Mark Hartigan, and Joe Motzko each had a goal and two assists to help Syracuse to a 5-3 win over Springfield… Wade Flaherty stopped all 42 shots he faced and earned his sixth shutout of the season as Manitoba beat Philadelphia 2-0… Jon DiSalvatore scored the game winning goal to help Peoria to a 2-1 win over Omaha.