GRAND RAPIDS, Mich -- The Grand Rapids Griffins have been known affectionally as the "Pesky Griffs" -- but Wednesday night, they were downright ornery. You would be, too, if your Calder Cup Playoffs life was on the line.
Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan, the oldest skater in the American Hockey League, led a physical and intense effort from the Midwest Division champions on Wednesday night, sparking Grand Rapids to a 5-2 win over the Toronto Marlies and extending the Griffins' season to at least Game 4 on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
The Marlies now lead the best-of-five Western Conference final.
Tom McCollum stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced, recovering nicely from disastrous Game 1 in Toronto where he surrendered six goals in two periods.
Teemu Pulkkinen scored two late goals to increase his playoff total to five, while Andy Miele, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi added scores.
While Hoggan recorded just one assist in the game, his effort and physicality set a tone from the first whistle. The 37-year-old was eventually tossed from the game with under a minute to play after fighting with Marlies star T.J. Brennan, who had tangled with Hoggan several times during the game.
Hoggan's heroics were noticed and praised by the rest of the team.
"He has a motor that most guys just don't have," head coach Jeff Blashill said. "His competitive level -- I thought -- raised our whole team's competitive level."
"We're real blessed to have him as our captain."
Game 4 of the series is Saturday, May 2, at 7:00 p.m. at Van Andel Arena. Tickets can be purchased at the Griffins' website.