Janis Sprukts Returns and Amerks Defeat Wolves

The Rochester Americans have started out a five game road trip with their second straight win, tonight coming against the Chicago Wolves with a 4-3 victory.

Janis Sprukts didn’t fly in to Chicago until around 2:30pm and from there he still had to get to the arena for the game.  One would think flying half away around the world would cause some serious jet lag, but that wasn’t the case tonight.

Sprukts made his presence known early in the game with a great penalty kill along with David Brine working hard to clear the puck.

The first period saw the Amerks and Wolves trade goals with the period ending tied at two.

Drew Larman scored the the first goal of the game for the Amerks after he received an excellent pass from Repik from the right wing side.  Once the puck hit his stick he easily put it into the net.

Karl Stewart was called for a roughing penalty at 9:04 of the first that eventually led to the Wolves power play goal by Riley Holzapfel to gain the 2-1 lead.

As a play was about to be called for icing Stewart continued into a Wolves player and plowed him into the boards.  It was called roughing but probably could have been boarding or even charging.

The play of the game came next as Janis Sprukts scored his first goal of the game by stealing it away at the blue line and skating in untouched to score and tie the game 2-2 heading into the second period.

Tyler Plante was pulled after the first period and replaced by Mike Brodeur in net.  Plante didn’t play bad in the first period, even though he only made three saves.  I can only imagine that Benoit Groulx did not like what the potential outcome could have became if the team started losing confidence in Plante.  I think it’s safe to say that putting Brodeur in net gave the Amerks a slight advantage.

Clay Wilson opened the scoring at 7:12 in the second period giving the Wolves a 3-2 lead.  Mike Brodeur dove across the crease to make a save on the initial shot by Jeff Hamilton, the puck rang off the post, off the arm of Brodeur which then allowed Clay Wilson to score.  That goal would be considered one of those “bounces” that teams hope for.

Karl Stewart answered back with a short handed goal at 15:34 of the second period as he let rip a wicked wrist shot that went in top corner, assisted by Michal Repik and Keaton Ellerby.  It was nice to hear the Chicago fans applaud the goal by Stewart who had played three seasons in Chicago.  He was obviously well liked.

With that assist Michal Repik extends his point streak to seven games (4 goals and 4 assists).

Janis Sprukts scored the game winning goal and his second of the night at 6:47 of the third period, assisted by Stefan Meyer and Shawn Matthias.  The play started when Matthias shot the puck at Wolves goalie Ondrej Pavelec who made the pad save, Matthias followed through on the play around the net and passed it to Stefan Meyer who played it across the mouth of the goal to Sprukts who stuck it in the corner of the net.

The effort, hustle, and team work of that play is something that this team needs every night.

The Chicago Wolves had two excellent power play opportunities for four minutes but they failed to score.  It was nail biting as they continued to put pressure on the Amerks the entire time.  The special teams of the Wolves is about as good (meaning it isn’t) as the Amerks, so lucky for them they were facing a similar opponent.

The second of the penalties that led to those opportunities was another bad penalty in the game when Michael Caruso leveled one of the Wolves players to the side of the net as the play was being whistled dead.

This was an exciting game to watch from start to finish.  With the two points gained in the victory tonight the Amerks continue their ascent to gain on teams above them in the standings now that they got out of last place.  The next game for the Amerks is on Friday against the Quad City Flames.

Other Notes:

Drew Larman left the game sometime during the 2nd period and was sitting in the stands in street clothes.  Did not see any plays that would have caused any injuries.  Could be an ingrown facial hair that was causing him some pain.

Shawn Matthias seemed to improve as the game went on.  At the end of the first period I don’t recall hearing his name heard once or seeing him do anything on the ice, but after that he was all over the place (in a good way).  On one of the power play chances for the Amerks he was playing on the first line alongside Meyer and Sprukts.  On that same power play he made a great attempt diving across the front of the net for the puck trying to get it in the net.  Our son wore his Shawn Matthias jersey to his ice skating lessons tonight and did an excellent job, the hockey gods were on their sides tonight.

And lastly, Keaton Ellerby seems to have taken away Jordan Henry’s role of making “dumb plays.”  Ellerby had another bad giveaway in front of the net that led to a scoring chance for the Wolves, luckily nothing came of it.  Speaking of Ellerby, he’ll be a feature on News 8 on Thursday by Cory Hepola.  “Keaton Ellerby – Defense – Get to know him.”