Griffins lose pivotal Game 3 in overtime

Griffins lose pivotal Game 3 in overtime

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Griffins played their best hockey in the third period of Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the Central Division Finals.

Unfortunately, that momentum didn’t carry over into overtime.

The Griffins’ opportunity to gain control of the series ended following a 3-2 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena.

Milwaukee’s Egor Afanasyev scored his third goal of the game less than five minutes into the extra period.

Grand Rapids trails the best-of-five series 2-1 after its second straight loss.

The Griffins claimed a 4-2 road win in the series opener.

“A sluggish start and no flow to the game with all the special teams and we have to handle that different mentally,” Griffins coach Dan Watson said. “I thought we were better in the third period, but we have to get off to a better start and find that emotion and intensity early on. We’ve lacked that in the last two games.”

The Admirals outshot the Griffins 11-4 in the first period, but defense and superb power play killing kept the game scoreless.

Griffins goalie Sebastian Cossa had 11 of his 27 saves in the first period.

“They had two guys crash the net there at the end and it goes off a stick and goes off a body and finds it way in,” Cossa said. “It was an unfortunate bounce, but that happens, and I think I played a really good game at the end of the day and gave my team a chance to win.

“We played a lot better in the third period and overtime, and we have to bounce back and regroup and get ready for Friday.”

The Admirals took a 1-0 lead when Afanasyev rebounded his own shot and knocked it past Cossa less than three minutes into the second period.

After a flurry of penalties, the Griffins evened the score late in the second on a goal by William Wallinder.

Milwaukee reclaimed the lead with a four-on-three advantage as Afanasyev scored the power play goal with 4:46 left in the second.

Grand Rapids tied it again less than five minutes into the period.

Austin Czarnik peppered goalie Yaroslav Askarov twice, with the second one trickling under his pads and into the goal.

“We needed a better start and that was the problem tonight,” Czarnik said. “The resilience we had in the third and to come back like we did was really good to see. It was an unfortunate bounce in overtime, but you let it go and now it’s a best-of-two series and we have to win them both.”

The Griffins outshot Milwaukee 15-7 in the third.

Game 4 is set for Friday night at Van Andel Arena, with Grand Rapids needing a win to extend the series and send it back to Milwaukee.

“We will try and make sure our guys are prepared for Game 4 here,” Watson said. “And I expect our guys to come out hungry and with that same urgency and desperation we saw in the third.”

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