Connect with us

Detroit Red Wings

Slow Start Hampers Griffins in 3-2 OT Loss to Milwaukee Admirals



Marco Kasper, red wings, grand rapids griffins

GRAND RAPIDS — Being a coach in the American Hockey League means understanding that it’s difficult to teach consistency. All you can do is point players in the right direction. Grand Rapids Griffins coach Dan Watson gets that.

“Sometimes it has to come from within,” Watson said. “We rely heavily on our leadership group. We can talk about it all want, but until you go out and do it…That’s on them a little bit.”

The Griffins’ slow start was again the talking point after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Admirals in Game 3 of their AHL Central Division Final. Egor Afanasyev scored all three goals for Milwaukee, including the OT tally on a deflection. The Admirals’ 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series means the Griffins face an elimination game Friday at home.

This was the second game in a row that the Griffins started slowly, turned in an impressive third period performance, only to fall short at the end.  At one point in the second period, the Nashville Predators’ affiliate was out-shooting the Griffins 21-7.

“We’ve got to get off to a better start, just find that emotion, that intensity early on,” Watson said.  “We’ve lacked it now for the last two games…We have to find that urgency and desperation quicker.”

In the third period, the Griffins were the better team. They out-shot Milwaukee 15-7 and tied the game 2-2 on Austin Czarnik‘s goal at 5:20 of the period. Sebastian Cossa had been strong enough in net to give the Griffins the opportunity to come from behind.

Ugly Start

“The first shift — it wasn’t good enough,” Czarnik said. “We take a penalty and it snowballs from there.”

This loss comes the day after McKeen’s Hockey ranks the Detroit Red Wings’ prospect pool as the NHL’s best.  But that doesn’t mean that the Red Wings’ prospects are all polished and ready for the NHL. This is a process.

“We need to get a better start,” Czarnik said.

It didn’t help that defenseman Simon  Edvinsson, the Red Wings’ best prospect according to McKeen’s Hockey, remains out of the lineup with an injury.

The players at least understand what happened and how they turned it around in the third period. “I think we just start slinging pucks to the net,” Czarnik said. “That’s one thing they are good at. They just sling pucks at the net and create. We started to get momentum off that ”

The Griffins have been a quality third period team all season.  Undoubtedly, Watson will be preaching the importance of a good start in Friday’s game. If they lose, the Griffins are eliminated.

Minutes after the loss, Griffins forward Matt Luff was talking about coming out in Game 4 and establishing they are the better team with shots and hits.

“I think we walk in tomorrow, fresh slate, knowing Friday we are home, do or die,” Luff said. “I think we are one helluva home team. The record shows that. I don’t think any of us will be on our heels.”