There are two things that are for certain about the Rochester Americans this season, those things are that they are capable of competing against the best teams in the league and they’re also capable of playing like a last place team. Trying to figure out ahead of time which team that will be is the tough part.
So far in the month of February it has been the team that shows it is capable of competing with the best in the league. The Rochester Americans proved it once again on Wednesday night when they lost in a shootout to the Grand Rapids Griffins by the final score of 2-1.
Following tonight’s loss, the Griffins are 30 points ahead of the Amerks in the standings. Yes, that is correct, 30 points. If we looked back over the season so far we could easily find 15 games that were close that would make it seem as if the two teams were actually close.
As quick as we are to throw in the towel once in a while, it also needs to be noted the potential that exists.
“We have to be happy with the way we played tonight, they’re one of the best teams in the league,” Benoit Groulx stated.
Jordan Henry scored on the power play for his third goal of the season and the only goal of the night for the Amerks. The score was also the first goal of the game between both teams at 5:23 of the third period assisted by Randall Gelech and Mike Duco. The puck was dumped into the corner where both Duco and Gelech went after it, could not tell who, but one of those guys managed to get the puck to the front of the net where a streaking Jordan Henry almost lost the puck, regained control, and then put it into the back of the net past Jimmy Howard with a backhand.
The Griffins answered back at 11:00 of the third period with a power play goal of their own. Francis Pare was parked in front of the net and managed to tip in a shot from the point by Justin Abdelkader. The shot appeared as if it may have been redirected by an Amerk as well as it made it’s way towards the net.
The fact that both goals came on the power play and that both consisted of one of those “bounces” that coaches and players typically talk about is more proof about the competitivenes of the game.
It was also a goaltenders battle with a combined 67 shots by both teams. Mike Brodeur made 27 saves compared to 37 saves for Jimmy Howard. The Amerks racked up a total of 38 shots of their own. Both goaltenders played excellent games, the deciding factor was one shot in the shootout for the Griffins by Garrett Stafford that went in the net.
Benoit Groulx after the game said, “Thought we had quality chances and obviously there were many times they were dangerous around our net. A good game, in the end we got a point but it could have gone either way.”
Randall Gelech had one of his best games of the season playing against his former teammates. He was all over the ice making excellent passes and plays. His assist tonight was only his fourth of the season, but sometimes the effectiveness of a player isn’t just in the points column.
The only players who did not get a shot on net were Michael Caruso, Rory Fitzpatrick, Janis Sprukts, and Andrew Sweetland. Michal Repik led the team with five shots.
The Amerks are back at home on Friday night when they play against the Hershey Bears who are the top team in the Eastern Conference, and the highest scoring team in the league.