Rochester Americans 1 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3
March 19, 2011
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins rode a dominant first period and stellar goaltending by Jordan Pearce to a 3-1 win over the Rochester Americans on Saturday at Van Andel Arena, moving back into a tie for fourth place in the North Division with their eighth win in the last 10 games.
Pearce made 25 saves to help the Griffins pull even with the Toronto Marlies and remain two points behind the Lake Erie Monsters, who currently hold the last guaranteed playoff spot in the North Division. Grand Rapids, which is now 12-3-1-3 in its last 19 games, is also back within just four points of the first-place Manitoba Moose in an extremely tight race.
The Griffins (34-26-2-8) will conclude their 3-in-3 weekend and first-ever home 4-in-5 on Sunday, when they welcome the Rockford IceHogs to Van Andel Arena at 4 p.m.
Following Friday’s loss to Lake Erie, the Griffins took out their frustrations on the Amerks during the opening frame, scoring twice on the power play and setting a new franchise record for shots in a period by out-gunning Rochester 24-8.
Tomas Tatar struck first at 5:34, taking Ilari Filppula’s pass from the end boards and beating Tyler Plante from the slot. Chris Minard made it a 2-0 contest at the 15:59 mark, standing at the right post and reaching out his stick across the crease to redirect Cory Emmerton’s shot from the top of the right circle. The assist was Emmerton’s 77th as a Griffin, moving him past Jakub Kindl into sole possession of ninth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Incredibly, after producing their most shots ever during the first period, the Griffins did not generate another until 4:49 remained in a scoreless second period, which the visitors finished with a slim 6-4 shot advantage.
Just past the halfway point of the third, Bill Thomas spoiled Pearce’s shutout bid when he stormed the crease from the left side and stuffed the puck inside the far post, on an assist from former Griffin Mark Cullen. Rochester (30-33-3-3) pressed hard for the equalizer, peppering Pearce with 12 shots during the period, but he slammed the door the rest of the way while Tatar potted his second goal of the night into an empty net with 10 seconds remaining, delighting the Griffins' third sellout crowd of the season (10,834).
With the 19th win of his Griffins career, Pearce passed Neil Little and Martin Prusek into sole possession of 10th place on the franchise’s all-time list. Plante played well for the Americans in defeat, finishing with 33 saves.
Notes: The Griffins’ previous record of 23 shots in a period was set on three occasions, most recently on March 31, 2006 at Manitoba (2nd). It had occurred only once at Van Andel Arena, on Feb. 8, 2003 against Chicago (3rd).
Three Stars: 1. GR Minard (power play goal); 2. GR Pearce (W, 25 saves); 3. RCH Thomas (goal)