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Berggren Sends Big Griffins Crowd Home Happy With OT Goal



jonatan berggren, grand rapids griffins

GRAND RAPIDS — When it comes to conjuring up goals and assists at spotlight times, Grand Rapids Griffins forward Jonatan Berggren has proven he to have magic in his game.

“He’s a guy who wants to live in these moments,” Griffins coach Dan Watson said. “He’s done it multiple times for us.”

Berggren did it again Friday,  scoring at 8:12 of overtime, to lift the Griffins to a 4-3 win against the Rockford IceHogs in Game 3 of their best-of-five American Hockey League playoff series. The Griffins, leading the series 2-1 can eliminate the IceHogs when the series shifts to Rockford for Game 4 Sunday (5 p.m., ET).

“You see him skating hard to the net. Great play by (Carter Mazur) to get the puck to the outside and get it back through to him,” Watson said. “He drives the net, wins the race to the net and was able to bang it in. He’s special offensively.”

The OT tally makes Berggren the first Griffins player to score two overtime games in a single playoff series. Berggren also provided Grand Rapids a victory in Game 1 in Rockford with an overtime goal.

“Yea, we were waiting for him to score,” Grand Rapids defenseman Simon Edvinsson joked. “It’s something he does and is really good at. Of course he helps us a lot.”

Former Red Wings player Stacy Roest is the only other Grand Rapids player to net two postseason goals in a single season. Another former Detroit player Matt Ellis is the only other player to net two playoff overtime goals in a Griffins career.

Blown Lead

The win had added meaning because the Griffins had surrendered two late goals to let Rockford tie the game 3-3. This came after the Griffins had played poorly in Game 2.  The Griffins could have come into overtime as a deflated team. Instead, they came out confidently in OT. They owned the puck.

“Dan told us: ‘It’s playoff hockey. You have to think short-time memory and that’s what we did,” Edvinsson said. ‘To go out there and win was strong a good team effort.”

The game drew a crowd of 8,825, the team’s largest playoff crowd since the clinching Game 6 of the 2017 Calder Cup Final. That game drew 10,834 sellout. This was also the team’s largest opening-round playoff crowd since their inaugural season in 1997.  It was a jubilant night at Van Andel Arena. A fan hurled an octopus on the ice during a stoppage shortly after the Griffins built a two-goal lead in the third period.

“It was unreal. Pretty hot in there. A lot of people, a lot of screaming, which was really fun and I loved every second of it,” said Grand Rapids goalie Sebastian Cossa who posted 27 saves in the win.

Kasper Scored First

Austin Czarnik, who spent considerable time with the Red Wings this season, scored 57 seconds into the third period for the go-ahead goal. Elmer Soderblom at 9:35 of the third period to give Grand Rapids a 3-1 lead. He had missed the first two games of the series because of illness.

The Griffins looked like they were headed toward a regulation win until Zach Sanford and Jackson Cates scored for Rockford at 16:22 and 17:21 of the third period.

Marco Kasper gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead 24 seconds into the second period when he beat Commesso with a shot from the high slot. Dominik Shine and Simon Edvinsson assisted. The Griffins were playing well enough to own a much bigger lead in that second period. At one point, the Griffins held a 22-9 lead in shots on goal. Commesso stopped three breakaways in the first 40 minutes.

The IceHogs fought back to tie the game with under a minute left in the second period on a goal by Rem Pitlick. In the 150 seconds before then, Cossa had three big stops from in-close. Another IceHogs’ shot rang off the post.

The Griffins came out much stronger in Game 3 than they did in Game 2. They out-shot Rockford 19-6 in the opening period only to be thwarted too often by Rockford goalie Commesso.