Abdelkader Sinks Admirals 6-3
Rookie Forward Scores First Pro Hat Trick...
By Jason Kasiorek
Grand Rapids got off to another hot start in the first period before needing some late game heroics to pull off the win. Justin Abdelkader led the way, notching his first career pro hat trick, while Ville Leino added three helpers and captain Darren Haydar chipped in a goal and three assists. Ryan Oulahen (2) and rookie Francis Pare (2) also scored for GR in the win. First year netminder Daniel Larsson made 28 saves for the win, his second of the campaign.
Grand Rapids came out of the gate really pumped and energetic, beating Norfolk to the puck and controlling play. Abdelkader one-timed a shot right in front of the net past Ramo for an early lead, just 50 seconds in. Haydar made it 2-0 around the three minute mark when he picked up a loose puck in the crease on the powerplay and lifted it over Ramo's leg. Norfolk got a break 11 minutes in when Larsson made a stop, but the puck lay right next to the line. Zingoni saw it and jammed at the puck, driving it over the line to cut the lead to one. Darren Helm went down thanks to a wicked high stick from Simek, and left the game. On the ensuing power play Abdelkader potted his second of the game connecting with the puck on the doorstop to make it 3-1. Shots on Goal: GR 12 - Nrflk 6.
For the second night in a row the second period was not kind to the Griffins as they lost their composure and got caught standing around to much. Simek capitalized on a turnover 45 seconds into the second roofing a shot over Larsson to pull within one. Norfolk tied it a minute later on the PP when Segal picked up the puck in a scrum in front of the net and slid it past Larsson glove side. The Griffins fell apart at this point running around in their own end and seemingly unable to clear their zone. The hitting really started to pick up the second half. Pare tried a wrap-around but the puck rolled through the crease and out the other side. Oulahen restored the late late in the period when he took a cross ice feed in the slot and ripped it past Ramo high, stick-side. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Nrflk 13.
For most of the first half of the period the Griffins seemed to be playing a man short as Norfolk really carried the play. Larsson had to be sharp to keep the team in this one. Emmerton made contact with Ramo - wiping him out - and touching off a big scrum. Late in the period Francis Pare electrified the crowd with a nice individual effort, weaving his way in, making a couple of nice moves, and then blowing it by the frozen netminder. Ramo went to the bench for the extra attacker with 2 minutes left on the clock. Ericsson was called for a penalty setting up a 6 on 4 advantage. Helm drew a pinulty with a minute left, and Abdelkader completed his hat trick into the empty net for the win. Shots on goal: GR 13 - Nrflk 12. For the Game: GR 33 - Nrflk 31.
Leino - Helm - Haydar
#17 Pare/#21 Lemieux - Abdelkader - Tardif
Ritola - Emmerton - Wilson
Lemieux/Pare - Oulahen - Downey
Ericsson - Pyett
Kindl - Jozsa
Stafford - #28 Kolosov
Leino - Helm -Abdelkader
Haydar - Ericsson
Ritola - Emmerton - Wilson
Kindl - Stafford
Ritola - Mursak
Ericsson - Jozsa
Oulahen - Tardif
Kindl - Stafford
Leino - Abdelkader
Leino was recalled to Detroit before the game, but stuck around to play anyway and recorded three assists giving him the team scoring lead.
I expected Abdelkader to make the adjustment to the AHL more quickly than most, but I never expected him to have the offensive touch that he has displayed in the first few games. If he keeps up this hot streak it will be tough for Detroit to not give him a look.
Great to see another good start, but this team has to find a way to keep it up in the second and third. Also while the offense is exciting, the defensive lapses and turnovers are going to cost this team eventually.
Rookie Francis Pare now has two goals and an assist in two games, and despite some defensive shortcomings, has shown he has the skill to be here. His next job will be too unseat someone ahead of him for a regular spot.
It is easy to appreciate veteran Landon Wilson's game and contributions to this team. He is always in the right spot, plays physical, always has a smile on his face.