Jason Garrison Leads Amerks to Shootout Win

The defensive duo of Jason Garrison and Matt Duffy led the Rochester Americans to a shootout win on Wednesday night against the Albany River Rats at Blue Cross Arena.  Jason Garrison scored two goals, his first two goal game, and Matt Duffy playing in his first American Hockey League game assisted on both of Garrisons goals.  Karl Stewart scored at 16:42 of the third period to tie the game at three.  Brett Parnham, playing in his second AHL game, scored the first goal in the shootout along with Janis Sprukts and Karl Stewart to lead the Amerks to a win.

I’d be making things up if I had anything to say about the first 24 minutes of the hockey game.  Apparently it’s ok if you’re a sports writer to write about things you didn’t see, but I don’t believe in that.  Our son had hockey practice, so we were late to the game.

Anyways, picking things up halfway through the second period.

Jason Garrison finally got the Amerks on the scoreboard at 10:21 of the second period, assisted by Matt Duffy and Michal Repik.  Repik had passed the puck across the ice to Duffy who then passed it down the blue line to Garrison who let a shot go beating Justin Peters high stick side.  Stefan Meyer also deserves honorable mention for screening Peters on the play.

Albany answered back at 6:16 of the third when they went ahead 3-1 on the scoreboard.  Brett Carson scored his sixth goal of the season through the five hole of Brodeur.  The Rats had a 5 on 3 advantage with both Stefan Meyer and Keaton Ellerby in the penalty box.

At this point in the game the words that head coach Benoit Groulx talked about at practice on Tuesday may have finally clicked.  He had stopped practice at one point and told the team that if they did not want to practice with intensity they would find something else to do.  He also had no issues telling the team how “they” are in second to last place.

Rather than falling apart the team found a way to score and get back into a game they may not have deserved based on the first 30 minutes of play.

Jason Garrison scored his second goal of the game at 11:34 of the third period on the power play.  Matt Duffy assisted on this goal as well when he received a pass up the boards from Stefan Meyer, Duffy then slid it over to Garrison, who shot the puck the same way he did on his first goal and found the net again.

Benoit Groulx commented on Garrison saying, “I thought Garrisons goals were both the same play, great shot by him, pretty good for his confidence.  He showed a lot of pose and was patient with the puck and rewarded for it.”

The Amerks tied the game at 16:42 of the third period by going after the puck hard and putting it on the net, something they’ve struggled with throughout the season.  Keaton Ellerby led the play as he took the puck against the back boards, it popped out and Michal Repik too a shot on net.  The rebound came out to Karl Stewart who shot the puck at Peters.  It appeared as if Peters had the puck as he slid to the ice but when he stood up it popped out behind him like an egg and went across the goal line.

We’ll take it!

In the closing moments of the game the Albany River Rats had a two on zero opportunity against Brodeur but failed to get it past him.

“You should have heard them scream, they thought it went in, I heard a ‘yeaaaaaaaaaa,’ nope, it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. His voice cracked and everything,” Mike Brodeur laughed about after the game.  “I even thought it went in when I heard the guy cheer, I wasn’t sure, then I felt it hit me and out it went.”

The last two times the Amerks fought back and pushed the game into a shootout they were not able to get ahead early.  Brett Parnham and Janis Sprukts scored on the first two tries for the Amerks.

“Jason and Bob have been telling me he’s pretty good in the shootout,” Groulx said. “After practice they do competition and he’s been the best so I had a lot of pressure from my coaches to send him out there.  I said, ‘you told me he’s good, he better score.’  He did it with a great move.  He didn’t play much in the third period, he showed a lot of pose scoring that goal.”

Mike Brodeur experienced something rare in the shootout, some held.  “It was nice to get some goals in the shootout this time, makes my job easy, especially when we score the first two, lightens it up my way a little bit,” Brodeur commented.

Brandon Sutter scored the only goal in the shootout for the Rats.

Karl Stewart was the fifth shooter for the Amerks who scored to put the game away for the win.

Additional Notes from the game:

If the Amerks and Panthers can get some help scoring goals next season the team should be in good shape.  The defense is looking like it could be pretty solid, especially based on the first game by Matt Duffy.  After the game I asked Duffy about the night and he said, “I didn’t even think I was going to play today, I was excited to play, kept it simple and did what I do best.  Playing with Garrison really made it easy for me. I was nervous in the first period, but got that out of the way and then they put me on the power play which was a surprise to me.”

Benoit Groulx liked what he saw as well saying, “I thought Matt played well, he was calm, making good passes.  He kept the puck in the zone twice on the second power play goal.  He did many good things out there tonight, but it’s only one game and what he’s earned is the right to keep going with us and earn another shot over the weekend.”

When Brodeur was asked about the past month or so one thing he said, “I think it was the whole team thing.  We weren’t scoring, I was giving up the extra goal here and there.  We were struggling to find a way to win.”  As he said that Tyler Plante went walking by giving himself some credit as well when Brodeur said, “I think that’s a big change right now, Plantes support on the bench, keeping me smiling.”

Mike Brodeur also mentioned about playing for the future at this point in the season.  He said he’s never missed the playoffs.  He also said that he doesn’t expect to be back next season, as Kevin O also wrote about.  Brodeur said that he has not heard anything from the Panthers at this point.  In defense of the Panthers, what NHL or AHL team makes deals at this time of year?

I think the other way to look at it is that Brodeur will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  He’s played quite well this season.  He’s going to be looking for a place to play that will give him a shot at the NHL.  That place may not be the Panthers with Vokoun still under contract and Jacob Markstrom expected in North America within the next year or two.

The Amerks take on the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday night on pink ice!  We should have some early pics of the pink ice tomorrow afternoon.