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Downey Leads Griffins Over Amerks 3-1
Enforcer nets goal and assist in win...
By Jason Kasiorek

Aaron Downey continued his resurgence with a goal and an assist in addition to providing energy and physical play to lead the Griffins over the basement dwelling Rochester Americans 3-1. Linemate Justin Abdelkader also broke an eight game scoring slump, scoring his 9th of the season, while Mattias Ritola scored the game winner his seventh of the campaign, tying his career high set last season in 72 games. Goalie Jimmy Howard had a great game in the nets, covering up for the sloppy game in front of him, stopping several breakaways and a penalty shot for the win.

An early Griffins powerplay was lost when Ericsson took a bad penalty, a trend that seems to be happening a lot lately. During the resulting 4-on-4, McArdle was pulled down in front of the net and given a questionable penalty shot. Howard stood tall in the net and denied him to keep the game scoreless. Around the half way mark of the period McGrath made a great individual effort to fight off the check and gain the Amerk's zone before hitting Downey with a perfect pass. Downey roofed it over Beckford-Tseu for his first of the season. Grand Rapids made it 2-0 as time ran out in the third on a nice play between Tardif, Emmerton and Ritola, ending up with Ritola roofing the puck over Beckford-Tseu as his feet were pulled out from under him. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Roc 4.

Abdelkader took a bad penalty to start the second, picking up Kolosov's stick and skating it over to him right in front of the ref, putting Rochester on the powerplay. The Americans also made a goaltending switch to start the period with Shantz in the net and Beckford-Tseu nowhere to be found. In the latter half of the period the Griffins made it 3-0 on a nifty passing play between McGrath, Downey and Abdelkader. McGrath gained the zone and passed to Downey who hit the late man Abdelkader, who rifled a low shot, stick-side. Meyer eventually broke Howard's shutout bid, late in the period when he took a back door pass from Repik. Shots on Goal: GR 10 Roc 9.

Mercifully the third period went by fast, highlighted by more sloppy, choppy play. Rochester got a powerplay with two and a half minutes left and pulled Shantz for the extra skater. Grand Rapids had several good chnaces at the empty net, but could not get one in before time ran out. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Roc 8. For the Game: GR 32 - Roc 21.

Leino - Helm - Haydar
Ritola - Emmerton - Tardif
McGrath - Abdelkader - Downey
Mursak - Gagnon - Oulahen

Ericsson - Jozsa
Galvin - Kindl
Stafford - Kolosov

Starter: Howard
Backup: Larsson

Lemieux - Knee

Leino - Abdelkader/McGrath - Helm
Stafford - Kindl/Haydar

Ritola - Emmerton - Tardif
Ericsson - Haydar/Kindl

McGrath - Abdelkader - Downey

Ritola - Abdelkader
Galvin - Ericsson

Emmerton - Tardif
Stafford - Kindl

Oulahen - Gagnon


Grand Rapids played down to the level of their competition tonight, quite a let down from the last couple of games. The Griffins easily won, but hopefully have not opened the door for more bad habits.

The line of Downey, Abdelkader and McGrath was playing at a high level and very entertaining. McGrath in particular seems to be hitting his stride and is playing his best hockey as a pro. Downey had a stellar game, and looks to have rounded the corner, accepting his fate in the AHL, and bringing his A game.

Jimmy Howard had a very good outing for the home team, bailing out his team on several giveaways and turnovers. He looked very sharp despite the low number of shots on him.

Another glowing report for Kindl who was probably the team's best blueliner last night and really seems to be finding his game.

Official Game Sheet