Grand Rapids has put together a good little streak lately, earning a point in 5 straight games. The Griffins have won 3 of the 5 in regulation and the other two went to overtime or shoot out. Although they have considerable work to do to make the playoffs (out by about 11 points), they've played well of late.
The Griffins took on the Rochester Americans on Sunday and made the most of the opportunities given. Grand Rapids took the lead first with a shorthanded goal from Patrick Rissmiller at 8:46 of the first period on a pass from Brad May. Victor Oreskovich scored for the Americans in the first period and Michael Caruso made it 2-1 Rochester in the second period.
Justin Abdelkader slammed home a loose puck on the power play for a tied game late in the second period for his 9th of the season. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen scored his first of the season for Grand Rapids midway through the 3rd period to give the Griffins and Daniel Larsson the win, 3-2. Tollefsen's shot from the point found a path to the net through screens and beat Rochester's Alexander Salak for the game winning goal.
Impressions from the Griffins vs. Americans game:
- Justin Abdelkader is absolutely dominant in the AHL as a first line center. He was all over the ice and it was nice to see him getting serious minutes on the ice and how he adapted to it. He put two shots on net and set up some great scoring chances for his line mates. Detroit fans know his forechecking prowess but it's even more prevalent at the AHL level.
- Daniel Larsson has calmed down a bit in net and showed some great movement in the crease. He needs to work on a lot of things but showed some flashes of solid play. He moves pretty fast across the crease but seems to have a bit of a problem seeing the puck at times. Good glove hand and quick reflexes, could be NHL material in a short amount of time. Larsson went 3-0-1 in the last five games.
- Jakub Kindl is pretty impressive too. He plays pretty tight defense and wasn't afraid to step in front of a shot. I liked the way he pressured the puck carrier or watched the free man. He looked like he wasn't going to give up all that much to the opposition's attack. If Lebda or Meech (or both) aren't re-signed in the offseason, he might be the first to make the jump.
- Patrick Rissmiller is an opportunist. He scored the first goal of the game and was in the right place pretty frequently. Rissmiller makes a lot of the chances he's given and has been on some what of a scoring tear recently. Rissmiller has 4 goals in the last 5 games, pretty good if you ask me.
- Sergei Kolosov was another great player to watch on defense. We did an interview with him recently but it was good to actually see him play a full game outside of the Olympics.. He moves pretty well around the defensive zone and passes well when he's given the puck. Seems to have a good awareness on defense and offense as well. Wouldn't be surprised if he winds up in Motown eventually. Big frame with big potential.
Grand Rapids won the first game in the five game stretch with a 4-1 win over the Manitoba Moose. Jeremy Williams scored twice and Logan Pyett scored the third, Patrick Rissmiller with the 4th goal. Daniel Larsson stopped 23 of 24 in the win.
The Griffins dropped the next game, also to Manitoba, by a score of 2-1. Justin Abdelkader scored the lone goal for the Griffins but they picked up a point by way of forcing OT. Grand Rapids outshot Manitoba 43-26 but Cory Schneider edged Larsson for the win.
Cory Emmerton, newly added Riley Armstrong, and Patrick Rissmiller added a goal each in each period to give the Griffins and Daniel Larsson another win; this time 3-2 over the first place Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Griffins took the ice the next night, again against Hamilton, and despite being outshot by a margin of 44-22 (yes, doubled in shots) they managed to take the game to OT. Patrick Rissmiller and Mattias Ritola scored the first two for Grand Rapids before Abdelkader scored in the dying minutes of the third to force OT. Thomas McCollum started the game for Grand Rapids but came out on the losing end by way of shootout.