Salak makes 39 saves to hold off Griffins...
By Jason Kasiorek
November 9, 2011
The Grand Rapids Griffins clearly outplayed the visiting Rockford IceHogs for large parts of the game. But that was not enough to overcome a second period letdown, three IceHogs' goals, and a nearly impenetrable netminder. Grand Rapids got goals from Janik (2), Aubry (1) and Johnson (5) in the loss and a pair of assists from both Nyquist and Smith. Jordan Pearce gave up 4 goals on 33 shots, taking his third loss of the season.
The Griffins had a lot of jump early, coming out of the gate ready to play. The home team put on a clinic blitzing the Rockford netminder with nineteen shots in the first. Late in the period they finally got one through Salak. Janik took a feed from Smith, walked in towards the circle and wristed a shot past Salak, high stick side. Pearce made a great stop in traffic a minute later to preserve the lead. Smith and Shaw were trying to get at each other during a scrum. Rockford got on the board with 10.6 seconds on the clock on a scrambled play with Shaw's shot pinballing in under Pearce. Shots on Goal: GR 19 - Rockford 10.
Segal made it 2-1 early in the second signaling a shift in play as Rockford started to take over. Pearce got run down and knocked back into the net by a Rockford skater, but no penalty was called on the play. Andersson had a nice shorthanded chance while Pyett was in the box for taking down an IceHogs player in front of the net. Tempers were flaring as each stoppage in play led to a scrum. Pearce made a nice stop on a streaking Morin who kept heading to the net before being intercepted by Janik. The two dropped their gloves for a short wrestling match. The Griffins got caught on a line change while killing a penalty, allowing Ben Smith to gain the zone with speed and rip a shot between Pearce's leg pads to make it 4-1. The Griffins came right back however with Aubry one timing a Smith pass into the net for his first AHL goal. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - Rockford 13.
Nyquist made a great play in the corner to center the puck to Johnson who stroked it past Salak on one knee to cut the lead to one. It looked like Rockford got another one midway through the period, but Pearce made a huge save to keep it a one-goal game. Grand Rapids scored the equalizer with 2 minutes on the clock, but it was waived off with Pare in the crease. Nyquist with a great individual effort got through the defense and Salak had to make an incredible save to keep it out of the top corner. The Griffins called a timeout and kept Pearce on the bench for the extra attacker. Rockford got a couple of good chances before McLean scored an empty-netter to put the game out of reach. Shots on goal: GR 13 - Rockford 11. For the Game: GR 42 - Rockford 34.
Tatar - Andersson - Pare
Nyquist - Johnson - Conner
Ferraro - Raedeke - Coetzee
#26 Oslund - Aubry - Nestrasil
Exelby - Smith
Janik - Pyett
Piche - Lashoff
Backup: #30 McCollum
Ehrhardt - Shoulder (5 to 6 weeks)
Amadio - Broken Rib
McDonald - Concussion
Callahan - Ankle
Tatar - Andersson/Nestrasil - Coetzee
Pare - Lashoff
Conner - Johnson - Ferraro
Nyquist - Smith
Andersson - Pare
Lashoff - Exelby
Ferraro - Raedeke
Smith - Janik
Conner - Johnson
Another tough loss. It would be very easy to lay this at the feet of Pearce, but seeing how he hasn't played in quite awhile and the team did not help him much in the 2nd; I will not make that mistake. This team is just not getting much offensive contribution from any other line except Conner's. Pare and Tatar among others need to start producing.
Exelby had a solid game and really stepped up his play in the latter stages of the game to try and get his team a win. His body language and some of the looks he gave teammates seemed to incite he was not happy with everyone's effort in the 2nd.
Doug Janik also stepped up and tried to carry his team. He was on fire, carrying the puck up ice and making some great plays.
Smith had an OK game but still does not look dynamic. Last season he shot the puck from anywhere, jumped up in the play and played a physical game - fearless. This season he looks much more reserved as if he is afraid to make a mistake.
Bryan Lashoff had a very good game as well, especially on the powerplay working the point. He did a good job of puck distribution and put some low, tippable shots on net.
Newcomer Nick Oslund played well in limited time displaying some skill and size. He also made a couple of really nice plays and appears to have soft hands and good instincts with the puck.
Congrats to Louis-Marc Aubry on his 1st career pro goal. He has played very well as of late and it was nice to see him rewarded. Hopefully this is the start of the puck going in for him on a regular basis.
While it is always easy to write about the great game Chris Conner had, special note should also be given to the resurgence of center Jamie Johnson who was a force on the ice tonight making plays and getting the puck up ice.
While there was no transaction announced, it sure looked like defenseman Gleason Fournier up from Toledo hanging out with the Griffins scratches today.