The Rochester Americans dropped their season opening game on Friday evening, losing in dramatic fashion to the defending Calder Cup Champions, the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins defeated the Amerks by a score of 8-1, serving up the worst season-opening loss in Rochester Americans history.
Several players had a multi-point night for the Griffins, who simply overpowered the Amerks in every sense of the word.
It all began with just over six minutes remaining in the first period.
Grand Rapids’ Brennan Evans and Rochester’s Brayden McNabb each received a five-minute penalty for fighting, while Drew Bagnall also received a two-minute penalty for roughing.
Grand Rapids opened the scoring on the power play, with a goal by right winger Gustav Nyquist to give the Griffins the 1-0 lead. Less than four minutes later, Alexey Marchenko would add another goal to put the Griffins up 2-0 before the end of the opening frame.
Things certainly didn’t improve during the middle frame for the Rochester Americans, as the Griffins went on to score an astounding five goals in the second period. Triston Grant scored at the 10:54 mark, while Ryan Sproul would add a power play goal 1:06 later after an extra penalty to Frederick Roy gave Grand Rapids the man advantage.
Exactly one minute later, the Rochester Americans would finally get on the scoreboard thanks to Luke Adam. Adam’s goal was assisted by defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and center Phil Varone.
Despite the Amerks goal, Grand Rapids wasn’t done for the period. Captain Jeff Hoggan scored his first goal of the season, putting the Griffins ahead 6-1 and forcing Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy to pull goaltender Matt Hackett.
Hackett allowed six goals on 20 shots faced in 36:35 ice time before being pulled. Nathan Lieuwen came in as his relief, and just two seconds (…literally) after he came in, Sproul added another goal for the Griffins to make it 7-1 at the end of the second period.
Things tapered off slightly in the third period, as Grand Rapids tallied just once as opposed to the five goals they scored in the second period. Riley Sheahan scored at the 4:41 mark of the third period, making it 8-1 in favor of Grand Rapids – and that’s all, folks.
Nathan Lieuwen allowed two goals on seven shots faced in 20:11. Nearly every Rochester Americans skater was at least a minus-1, with Drew Bagnall at the bottom of the barrel as a minus-4. Only Johnathan McGuire and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc managed to stay off the minus-record, both with a zero plus-minus rating.
The Amerks now face a week of preparation before their next game – a week break that looks pretty good, as it should give the team plenty of chances to see what they did wrong and practice prior to hosting the Utica Comets on October 11.