Taffe and A Couple Bounces Lead Amerks to Win

“Bounces part of the hockey game,” Benoit Groulx said after the game.  “Last night (6-1 loss to Hamilton) they had tons of bounces.”

The Rochester Americans bounced back on a Saturday night with a 5-3 win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in downtown Rochester.  Jeff Taffe led the way with two goals.  Daniel Steiner, Michal Repik, and Jamie Johnson also put pucks in the net.

Keaton Ellerby dumped the puck at the back boards in the first period and the puck took a lucky bounce back to the front of the net.  Daniel Steiner was skating down the slot and the puck pretty much landed on his stick for him to easily tie the game 1-1 at 7:40 of the first period.

“I had a lot of bad bounces the last couple of games so it’s even now,” Steiner said.

Jeff Taffe scored his 15th goal of the season at 3:31 of the second period to give the Amerks a 2-1 lead.  He let a hard slap shot fly at Brad Thiessen who had no chance of stopping it.

“To me he’s a masterpiece of our team.  He doesn’t need many chances in front of the net to score,” Benoit Groulx said talking about Taffe.  “Tonight his goal put us in front 2-1 and to date that was an important goal and gave us more confidence.”

Luca Caputi scored at 12:49 of the second to tie the game 2-2, assisted by Ben Lovejoy and Eric Tangradi.

The line of Taffe, Johnson, and Steiner answered back at 1:26 of the third period to put the Amerks ahead 3-2.  As Taffe was crossing the blue line in the middle of the ice he made an awesome backhand saucer pass to Daniel Steiner who immediately fed the puck to Jamie Johnson who scored.

Groulx noted, “That was the play of the night I thought.”

The Amerks have relied lately on that line to score goals and even though they’re producing they are also giving up a lot of plays.  Playing a better defensive game is the one element of the game for the Amerks that continues to need work.

“I think we’re giving up a little too much on our line,” Jeff Taffe said.  “We’ll score two or three goals but at the same time we’ll give them up.  I think if we play a little bit better defensive we can start creating more stuff off of that as well.”

When asked if he liked the goal or the pass more Taffe replied with, “I’d say the pass.  I like the passes more.  I was trying to find Jamie, you always like to get him points when you can.  I’m always looking to pass a little bit more, I don’t think Benoit likes that as much, he likes me to shoot it and i try to stick to that these days.”

Michal Repik put the Amerks up 4-2 at 8:55 of the third period off a one timer in the slot.  Chris Taylor fed the puck up the middle from the back boards and Repik had no problem finishing.

Chris Conner got the Penguins within one at 13:29 of the third period off an impressive goal as he was falling to the ice.  Conner had a breakway down center ice and Jordan Henry slid towards him taking out Conner down in the process.  As Conner was falling to the ice he managed to keep his stick on the puck and then rotate his blade and flip the puck over the shoulder of Salak.

Alexander Salak was more focused and played a much more solid game on Saturday than he did on Friday.  Groulx said that they gave him the opportunity to play against the Penguins to bounce back and get back at it.  After the game they had not yet decided who would start against the Phantoms.

Jeff Taffe also scored his 17th goal of the season into an empty net to make the final score 5-3.  The puck bounced around the back boards to Taffe on the other side and he was able to get it in the net.  Even though Taffe finished the game with two goals and an assist he said, “I wasnt very happy with the way I played tonight.”

The coach and players talked about the bounces being in their favor tonight which is great, it helped them win the game and earn two points.  It would be great if the team could start playing with confidence and not relying on bounces to change the momentum of the game.  This team has a lot of skilled players that should be able to consistently create plays, like Johnsons goal.

Here’s a lengthy quote from Groulx, “The momentum, being opportunistic, having a good powerplay or penalty kill or the lucky bounce.  The line between everything going well and all of a sudden going the other way is fragile.  When we talk about intagibles there’s so many things that can influence a game.  If we don’t score that first goal the momentum would have been gone.”

Amerks are back at home to for their third game of the weekend on Sunday at 5:05pm against the Adirondack Panthoms.