Griffins Rally Falls Short - Lose to Rampage 3-2|
Jordan Pearce solid in relief...
By Jason Kasiorek
The Griffins continued their losing ways, dropping a close decision to the bottom dwelling San Antonio Rampage. A slow start to the game for Grand Rapids led to a three to zero lead by the Rampage and another yanked starter for the Griffins. Jordan Pearce played well in relief of Larsson, shutting out the Rampage for just over 43 minutes, stopping all 13 shots he faced. Logan Pyett scored his fifth of the season, tying his rookie campaign points total from last season at 14. Jan Mursak had the other Griffins goal, his team leading 16th, marking 4 games in a row that the talented forward has scored.
San Antonio got out to a good start in the first, scoring just after the one minute mark. Gavin Morgan ripped a shot at Larsson, then went around the back of the net and picked up his own rebound, stuffing it home for the lead. Five minutes later Sharp won a faceoff back to Sullivan who ripped a shot past Larsson from the slot to make it 2-0. Three straight Rampage penalties gave the Griffins an extended 5 on 3 powerplay, but it was no help. It was embarrassing watching the Griffins powerplay misfire. Even with two extra skaters they couldn't get it into the Rampage zone with control. The Griffins couldn't get anything going in the period and were not in the game. Late in the first, Kindl was defending in front of the net on the powerplay and allowed two Rampage players to take up position in front of Larsson, screening the goalie. Not only did Kindl not attempt to move either of them, but he moved over to the side blocking Larsson's view even more. May fired a long low slapper from the point that Larsson did not see and it found its way to the back of the net. That spelled the end for Larsson and Jordan Pearce came on in relief. Vigilante boarded a Rampage player in the corner which touched off a scrum with everyone piling on. Eventually he squared off with Stefan Meyer and took his lumps before covering up. With just over a minute left, Pyett let a big shot go from the line that seemed to change direction in front and beat Tordjman to break the goose egg. Kindl got smoked behind his own net and looked like he got his bell rung. He was slow to return to the bench. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - San 12.
Grand Rapids awoke in the second playing a much stronger game. The Griffins had several good chances and put a lot of pressure on Tordjman in the Rampage zone. The line of Tatar-Emmerton-Pare in particular did a great job on the cycle, keeping the puck in deep and generating shots. Midway through the period, Mursak pulled the home team to within one. The talented winger snared a loose puck in front and showed great second effort to lift it over Tordjman for a goal. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - San 6.
Galvin was the last man back and rang a shot of a Rampage forwards leg, sending him in on a partial breakaway. Crosty got back just enough to make him rush the shot and miss. The Griffins seemed to fall apart again later in the period, unable to make two passes or get the puck into the Rampage zone. Pearce went to the bench at 1:20 for the extra attacker, but the extra skater did not help them at all. The last 45 seconds of the game was spent in the Grand Rapids end, unable to clear the puck. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - San 7. For the Game: GR 29 - San 25.
Lemieux/Williams - Nylander - Mursak/Pare
Tatar - Rissmiller - Williams/Mursak
Crosty - Vigilante - Tardif
Rissmiller - Daavettila - Pare
Tatar - Emmerton - Pare
Kindl/Stokes - Pyett
Stokes - Delmore
Kroll/Crosty - Galvin
McGrath - Groin
Newbury - Suspended
Kolosov - Concussion
Tatar - Rissmiller - Pare/Nylander
Williams - Kindl
Emmerton - Nylander - Mursak
Delmore - Pyett
Emmerton - Pare
Stokes - Galvin
Nylander/Vigilante - Tardif
Kindl - Pyett
3 Tordjman - San
2 Mursak- GR
1 Hollweg - San
Pyett had another strong night and is now on pace for double digit goal totals. He has been making good decisions, and seems to be more comfortable making plays with the puck.
John Vigilante really stood out tonight, especially in the faceoff circle where he won most of his draws. His energy and skating seem to wear down opponents on the ice.
Jamie Tardif played a hard game, banging and agitating all night. He always is so hard to play against, even when he is not scoring, you have to pay attention to him.
Earlier in the day it was announced that Kolosov would be returning from his concussion, hopefully he has not had a setback, as he was not on the ice again tonight. We could certainly use his return.
Pare, Mursak, Rissmiller and Emmerton all brought energy and grit tonight. It was clear that Fraser thought so too as he put them out in several different combinations, but the four got an awful lot of ice time.
Still disappointed in the play of Jeremy Williams. Most night (like last night) he just floated, no hard work, a couple of shots from strange places on the ice and then back to the bench. He needs to take a page out of Tardif's book and become more of a presence even when he is not scoring goals. He is not the only player that needs to improve, but as our veteran goal scorer, he needs to find some intensity and get playing at that level.
Tatar had an OK game. It looked like it took him a while to find his comfort zone after being gone the last few weeks. He looked to be more in sync by the end of the game so hopefully he will return to his pre-WJC form.
Nice game by Pearce, but I didn't think most of those goals were really Larsson's fault in the first place. This team needs to start playing 60 minutes and stop leaving the netminders out to dry.