Rybar's Shutout Sink Admirals 3-0|
Griffins rookie posts his first AHL whitewash...
By Jason Kasiorek
January 19th, 2019
Patrik Rybar shrugged off a long night spent on the bus to turn in his first whitewash of the season, out-dueling former Griffins Thomas McCollum in a 3-0 win at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins got home late this morning after poor weather turned their short bus ride back from a Friday night tilt in Rockford into a lengthy adventure. The rookie netminder made 24 stops to pick up his 10th win and lower his GAA to a miserly 2.30 per game, good enough for third in the AHL. The Griffins got goals from Matt Puempel (17), Wade Megan (8) and Givani Smith (3) for the win.
It looked the game was going to be a rough one early as there was a visible animosity between the two teams. Anthony Richard and Joe Hicketts already scrumming after the whistle just 27 seconds into the game. Chippy play with lots of hitting and after the whistle stuff. McIlrath and Gregoire came together for a tussle that was just short of a fight. Turner Elson to the box for high-sticking and drew blood, earning a double-minor. The Griffins defense was huge on the penalty kill with Brian Lashoff blocking three consecutive shots. Rybar made a stop and the puck trickled through and lay in the crease behind him. Lashoff pushed it back under him and McIlrath smoked the Admirals forward reaching in for it, driving him and the official into the end boards. The Griffins managed to kill off the last of three straight penalties, and Rybar owes his blueline dinner for blocking so many shots. Griffins finally got their first shot on goal late in the period. Two-on-one with Puempel and Megan, Megan waited until the last second and then threaded a pass to Puempel who went high, stick-side for a goal. Shots on goal: GR 2 - Mil 13.
Filip Zadina with a great chance and then a sick pass to Holmstrom in front for another. McIlrath looks ornery and is in everyones face, Tinordi wants no part in it. Sulak with a giveaway along the boards, but recovered. Shine kicked the puck ahead to Smith in alone on McCollum with a chance and then Shine with the rebound in front of an open cage fanned on it. The Griffins finally got their first powerplay midway through the second, then the Admirals took a second penalty right away to make it a 5-on-3 advantage. Not much going on during the powerplay, but Grand Rapids had a flurry of shots just after it expired. Lashoff with a huge hip check to knock the puck carrier flying in the closing seconds of the period. Shots on goal: GR 15 - Mil 4.
The Griffins extended their lead just over the six minute mark of the third. Matt Puempel fired a high velocity point shot that hit a skate in front and Megan on the doorstep banged it home to make it 2-0. The play was reviewed, ostensibly to see if the puck was directed in with a foot, but allowed to stand. Colin Campbell won a footrace into the Milwaukee zone, but icing was still called and the Griffins were visibly upset. Thomas McCollum was called to the bench with two and half minutes remaining for the extra attacker. But before they could get much going, Givani Smith stickhandled through traffic and hit the empty net for his third of the season. The Griffins played dogged defense, dumping the puck out and standing up the Admirals at the line as they didn't allow any shots on Rybar. Time expired on Rybar's first AHL shutout and the team all mobbed him to offer congratulations. Shots on goal: GR 11 - Mil 7. For the game: GR 28 - Mil 24.
#54 Smith - #23 Turgeon - #65 Shine
#16 Spezia - #10 Holmstrom - #45 Campbell
#73 Puempel - #22 Megan - #55 Ford
#15 Elson - #19 Camper - #11 Zadina
#4 Sulak - #52 McIlrath
#18 Lashoff - #2 Hicketts
#27 Chelios - #9 Saarijarvi
Starter: #42 Rybar
Backup: #29 Sateri
#73 Puempel - #22 Megan - #10 Holmstrom
#2 Hicketts - #19 HCamper
#55 Ford- #19 Camper - #22 Megan
#73 Puempel - #11 Zadina
#23 Turgeon - #45 Campbell/Shine
#18 Lashoff - #52 McIlrath
#15 Elson/#55 Ford - #22 Megan/#65 Shine
#27 Chelios - #2 Hicketts
Even though it was an empty net goal, it is nice to see Givani Smith starting to hit the scoresheet. He scored his second goal in three games and was looking more confident with the puck in the offensive zone. Smith also posted a career best 4 shots on goal, second best on the team behind Matt Puempel
The vet line of Megan, Puempel and Ford showed some good chemistry, accounting for the first two goals. On a team that has struggled to find the right combinations of forwards, this line looked like a winner in the early going.
Libor Sulak is battling some inconsistency as the season drags on. He had a couple of defensive miscues that were brutal, but has for the most part been able to recover. He also continues to show off how much of an offensive weapon he can be with his incredible wheels and ability to carry the puck through traffic like a forward.
Great game by Rybar who just seems to get better as the season goes on. Not sure what his top end is yet, but he has proven he is capable of handling the crease in the short term at the AHL level, and has started to surpass Sateri in starts.