Billins makes hat trick history

FSU standout becomes first Griffins defenseman to record hat trick at home

GRAND RAPIDS — Former Ferris State standout defenseman Chad Billins notched his first career hat trick on Sunday to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to a dominant 7-3 victory over the San Antonio Rampage.

The rookie defenseman tallied three goals in the final 26 minutes of Sunday’s game to help Grand Rapids snap a two-game losing streak.

The co-captain of Ferris State’s historic NCAA Frozen Four team a year ago, Billins, who had never scored a hat trick at any level of hockey, gave Grand Rapids a 4-2 lead by scoring twice late in the second period, then he capped off the night at 18:48 of the third to became the first defenseman in Griffins history to notch a hat trick at home. Logan Pyett, the only other Grand Rapids blueliner to score three goals in one game, accomplished the feat at Hamilton on Feb. 27, 2011.

FIRST IMPRESSION: Former FSU standout Chad Billins (right) has scored six goals to go with 23 assists as a rookie for the Grand Rapids Griffins. (Courtesy photo/Mark Newman)

Billins collected his own rebound and beat San Antonio netminder Dov Grumet-Morris from the right post for his initial goal in the second period.  He then notched his second power play goal in less than five minutes at 19:23, only seven seconds after Jared Gomes was ushered off for hooking. Intercepting a pass at the point, he threaded his way into the left circle and sent a low wrister that snuck inside the far post, staking Grand Rapids to a 4-2 lead.  He later restored a four-goal cushion late in the third period by streaking down the right wing to tally his second unassisted goal of the evening and the hat trick.

The standout defenseman needed little time to transition to the professional ranks after a four-year career at Ferris State, racking up 16 points (1-15-16) in his first 16 AHL games. Billins currently has 29 points (6-23-29) in 52 games this season.

Billins has made the most of his rookie season for the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate in the Grand Rapids Griffins, where’s he’s played for head coach Jeff Blashill, a former Ferris State player and assistant coach who served as a NHL assistant with the Red Wings last campaign.

As a rookie this season, Billins was chosen to compete as a member of the Western Conference All-Star Team in the 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic, which was held on Jan. 28 in Providence (R.I.).

This season, Billins is not the only former Bulldog skater to notch three or more goals in a professional hockey league contest.  Former Bulldog All-American Chris Kunitz totaled a career-high four goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL game earlier this month.

The Griffins, who increased their lead atop the AHL’s Midwest Division to five points over Chicago, will play three road games in three nights next weekend, beginning Friday’s visit to Milwaukee.

 

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