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Game Recap: Grand Rapids Griffins at Amerks, 10.19.2012


“It’s a white flag, it’s a stop sign. It’s a long night of beating up the past.” (Eric Church, Over When It’s Over)

(Editor’s note: Oh goodnesss gracious, this Gangnam Style fad needs to die faster than Perot’s celebrity in the late 90s)

The Amerks welcomed the Grand Rapids Griffins to the BCA on Friday night, and kicked off the game exactly where they left off after their Tuesday-night bout against the Binghamton Senators – with some really crappy hockey. The Halloween-edition “Know Your Amerks” videos were swell, however, as is watching the Moose dance Gangnam Style. To the recap!

To say that the Amerks showed up for their Tuesday night game is a stretch. The B-Sens walked all over them, and easily won the match 3-1. The Amerks didn’t look much better in their first period against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night, with the Griffs easily going through and around the defense. Grand Rapids netted the first goal of the game, and the only goal of the first period, at 5:48. When I tell you guys that Tomas Jurco had no problem getting past the blue-liners, he walked in on net all alone, and David Leggio barely stood a chance. The Amerks went into the first intermission down a goal and down in SOG.

The second period didn’t look much more promising, as Landon Ferraro netted GR’s second goal of the game at 3:08. Then, the Amerks finally decided that they’d had enough of that. A minute and thirteen seconds later, Brian Flynn cut the lead in half, off of a sweet pass from Captain Kevin Porter. Late in the second, GR’s Riley Sheahan took the Griffins’ first penalty of the game (to Rochester’s four, at this point), giving Rochester their second goal. TJ Brennan scored his first of the season, with Brayden McNabb and Evan Rankin picking up the helpers on the power play goal. The Amerks and Griffins would head into the second intermission tied at two apiece. Then things got fun.

Nearly seven minutes into the third, former Amerk Tristan Grant (from the Florida years) took a run at Nick Tarnasky, sending Tarnasky head over heels deep in the Amerks zone. Tarnasky took exception to this, and the two decided to tangle. I know a lot of things, and one of these things is that you shouldn’t go up against Nick Tarnasky. If you ARE going to go up against Tarnasty (as I like to call him), you shouldn’t go low. He got a few solid hits in on Grant, and it was all over. Both would go for fighting, with Grant getting two extra for clipping. Phil Varone was on top of things, banking Rochester’s third goal of the night (and second power play goal), giving Rochester the lead, with assists to Luke Adam (here is my impressed face) and Mark Pysyk. The Amerks weren’t done yet, however, putting one more past goaltender Jordan Pearce, again on the power play. Marcus Foligno put up his third goal of the season (and third goal in four games), with a little help from Cody Hodgson and TJ Brennan. With 2:04 left in the third, Tristan Grant would pot Grand Rapids’ third and final goal of the night – as Captain Porter was sitting on Leggio – and the Amerks would skate off with the win.

Although the game looked better than Tuesday night’s by far, it still wasn’t the Amerks best effort, and I can only hope that things will get better, cleaner, and tighter as the season progresses. The power play looked a thousand times better, however, with the team taking far more shots and opening up better shooting and passing lanes. Following the game, Coach Ron Rolston gave a lot of credit to Nick Tarnasky for shifting the momentum of the game, following the dirty hit that precipitated hit bout with Grant at center ice.

Game notes: Brian Flynn’s goal during this game marks his first as a professional hockey player … Rookie Frederick Roy, son of goaltender Patrick, got a nod to dress for tonight’s game, his first of the season. Alex Biega also got his first start of the season, as fellow d-man Drew Schiestel sat for the evening. Only Nick Crawford and Jonathan Parker have not yet dressed for a game with this Rochester club … The Amerks were 3-2-1-0 against GRG last season, including a 7-2 pummeling on October 16, 2011, in which Phil Varone got his first professional assist. It’s clear Varone likes to put up against Grand Rapids, picking up a goal, three shots, and two penalties (for four minutes) during this match … The Amerks went 3-for-5 on the power play, with the Griffins going 0-for-4 … David Leggio unsurprisingly got the start for Rochester. He played all but four seconds of this game, and leads the AHL in minutes played (242:07), shots against (138), and saves (125). However, his GAA (3.22) and save percentage (0.906%) still leave something to be desired. I love Leggio, and I think he’s a great goaltender, but I remain curious as to how Connor Knapp, who earned backup honors, will fare between the pipes … The three stars of the night were all from Rochester – 1) Kevin Porter (0+1), 2) TJ Brennan (1+1, with seven SOG), and 3) Brian Flynn (1+0).

The Amerks shipped off to face the Hershey Bears on Saturday, in a battle of the two oldest teams in the AHL. This marked the 445th all-time meeting between these two teams. The Amerks, who pulled out the miraculous comeback to beat the Bears 8-7 on Saturday (boy, I wish I’d been at that game!), are now 186-205-54 in their lifetime against the Bears, who are the affiliate of the Washington Capitals. David Leggio, who got the start against Hershey, was 1-1-0 against the Bears last season, including a 5-2 win on February 22. That game was the first of 23 consecutive starts for Leggio, and was also the game that moved Rochester into playoff contention. On Tuesday, the Amerks will head to First Niagara Center in Buffalo to take on long-time rivals the Hamilton Bulldogs. As always, I will be there. See you at the game!!

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