Rampage Spoil Griffins Home Opener 3-2|
Nelson 0-3 to start the season...
By Jason Kasiorek
October 16th, 2015
The San Antonio power play played the role of spoiler, as the Griffins dropped their first home opener under new head coach Todd Nelson by a 3-2 score. Grand Rapids surrendered a 2-1 lead, giving up a pair of powerplay tallies in the final stanza to remain winless on the season. Ryan Sproul (1) and Xavier Ouellet (1) provided the offense for the home team while netminder Thomas McCollum made 26 saves in absorbing the loss.
The visiting team got on the board early, scoring just past the two minute mark of the first period. San Antonio took advantage of a defensive miscue to get the puck to Agozzino all alone to the side of the net for a back door slam and a 1-0 lead. The Griffins answered back on the power play when Sproul jumped up into the play, picked up the rebound of a Tangradi shot and buried it for his 1st of the season. Nathan Paetsch have almost made it 2-0 when his long dump in just tricked wide. Tvrdon and Bertuzzi with great chances at the loose puck in front. The Griffins had four straight power plays, but could only solve Pickard once. Shots on goal: GR 16 - San 6.
Ouellet gave the Griffins the lead early in the second when he came late on the play and roofed it over Pickard. Later in the period Miele sort of got dragged into Pickard touching off a big scrum in front and leading to a Griffins penalty. Aubry smoke a Rampage player through the goalpost after McCollum made the stop and ended up in the box as GR starting to get in penalty trouble. Ouellet to the box on a bogus call setting up a San Antonio 5-3 that carried over into the third period. Shots on goal: GR 12 - San 14.
After a great block by Marchenko in the slot, Street wired a shot through traffic that Agozzino tipped past Mccollum for his second of the night, knotting the score at two. Bertuzzi got the puck out of the zone and deep into the Neutral zone but paid the price when he got the Malachi crunch and was smoked by two players in front of the boxes. Nice rush with Athanasiou and Mantha getting a great chance on Pickard. The Griffins with several back to back chances on Pickard, but he stood his ground and kept the puck out. McCollum made a huge diving save and then several Rampage players piled on, trying to force him or the puck into the net. Late in third Tangradi went to the box on a weak interference call. Nosek with a dangerous shorthanded break, but couldn't get the shot off. Redmond fired a bad angle shot past McCollum, high glove-side behind his shoulder to give the rampage a late lead. Tangradi had a great chance in front, but rang the puck off Pickard's foot. McCollum to the bench for the extra skater and the Griffins put pressure on the Rampage net. Sproul teed up a rocket that deflected off a Rampage players' cup. Another Tangradi point blank chance leads to a scrum down to the side of the net. Shots on goal: GR 13 - San 9 . For the game: GR 41 - San 29.
#15 Callahan - #21 Miele - #9 Zengerle
#26 Tangradi - #11 Athanasiou - #8 Mantha
#13 Tvrdon - #19 Nosek - #39 Bertuzzi
#10 Hoggan - #22 Aubry - #45 Campbell
#18 Lashoff - #3 Marchenko
#4 Paetsch - #14 Jensen
#16 Ouellet - #7 Sproul
Starter: #30 McCollum
Backup: #31 Coreau
#23 Grant - Injured
#44 Rechlicz - Suspended
Callahan - Miele - Zengerle
Paetsch - Jensen
Tangradi - Athanasiou - Mantha
Sproul - Ouellet
Nosek - Callahan
Paetsch - Ouellet
Athanasiou - Campbell
Lashoff - Marchenko
The Griffins carried play for large amounts of the game, but still looked like a team trying to gel and learn coach Nelson's system. Give the Rampage credit for shutting them down, but I was surprised the Griffins did not do a great job of utilizing their speed much in the second half of the game.
Ryan Sproul played one of the best games I have ever seen him play. He was involved with the puck, generating a team high 6 shots on goal and especially on the powerplay looked like a different player. I believe that coach Nelson, a former defenseman is having a positive effect on his game.
Alexey Marchenko continues to improve in leaps and bounds. He looked like he was above all the other players at times with his patience, poise and confidence. I can't believe how much he has improved even since last year.
On the other side of the coin, several players are off to a slow start, and while he is returning from major surgery last year, Callahan was nearly invisible tonight.