ROCHESTER, N.Y. – For the second straight night, the Rochester Americans scored a pair of 5-on-3 goals and enjoyed double-digit power plays en route to defeating the Grand Rapids Griffins, prevailing 5-3 on Friday at the Blue Cross Arena.
The Griffins (5-5-0-0), who suffered their first loss in six road games, also fell to 0.500 overall for the first time this season. They’ll have a week to recharge before visiting Rockford next Friday, Nov. 9, to face the IceHogs at 8:30 p.m. EST.
The Americans (5-7-1-1) picked up where they left off in Friday’s 3-1 win at Van Andel Arena by scoring during a two-man advantage at 12:09 of the opening period. Adam Berkhoel made a pair of point-blank saves, but Marek Zagrapan popped a rebound into the net from the right side for his third goal in two nights.
While the Griffins were building a 16-9 advantage in shots during the first period, they seemed to gain particular momentum from a skirmish sparked when Randall Gelech was hit from behind without a penalty, scoring twice within the final 53 seconds of the frame. Moments after making a nice play to keep a Rochester clearing attempt in the zone, Garrett Stafford snuck a wrist shot past Adam Dennis from the top of the circles at 19:07 to tie the score with a power play goal.
Charging up ice just 20 seconds later, Gelech left a pass for Mark Hartigan, who slid from the high slot to the bottom of the left circle and patiently waited for Dennis to commit before depositing a sharp-angle shot inside the far post.
Grand Rapids’ lead lasted until the 9:24 mark of the second period, when the Amerks converted during yet another 5-on-3 advantage on the first of two quick goals by Dylan Hunter. From the top of the left circle, Marc-Andre Gragnani threaded a pass down low to Hunter for an easy tap in from the right doorstep. Then, 3:26 later, Hunter gave Rochester a 3-2 edge by redirecting a Mark Mancari centering pass at the top of the crease.
The Griffins pulled even before the second intermission, though, when Johan Ryno walked out from the end boards and ripped a shot over Dennis’ shoulder from the right faceoff dot at 13:21.
The Amerks registered their third power play goal at 7:36 of the final period to go back on top 4-3, as Clarke MacArthur’s laser from the right point slipped past Berkhoel’s glove. Martin Lojek added a 175-foot empty-netter with 54 seconds left for the final margin.
Berkhoel stopped 21 of 25 shots in the loss, while Dennis earned his second straight win with 32 saves. The Griffins, who out-shot Rochester 69-50 during the two-game set but were outscored 8-4, went 1-for-16 on the power play the last two nights. By contrast, the Amerks converted five of 23 opportunities during the home-and-home and had seven 5-on-3 chances, compared to zero for Grand Rapids.