The Rochester Americans used a potent power play to rally from a 2-0 deficit and defeat the Grand Rapids Griffins 4-3 on Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester. Three of the Amerks’ four goals came with the man-advantage as the team snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory to improve to 2-2-0-0 on the season.
Defenseman T.J. Brennan recorded a goal and an assist while quarterbacking the power play to a 3-for-5 performance. Last year’s scoring leader, Phil Varone, notched his first goal of the 2012-13 campaign while Brian Flynn scored his first career AHL goal and Marcus Foligno added his team-leading third of the season. Amerks goaltender David Leggio made 30 saves to record the win.
“It was good, just trying to create offense and keep things simple,” Brennan said of the power play. “By throwing pucks on net we are able to create opportunities that we took advantage of.”
The Griffins went ahead 1-0 midway through the first period when Thomas Jurco took a centering pass from Trevor Parkes, who was stationed along the right wing boards, and snapped it past Leggio. For Jurco, it was his first goal of the season.
Grand Rapids made it a 2-0 game just over three minutes into the second period when Landon Ferraro deflected a slap shot taken from the point by former Amerk Nathan Paetsch for his second of the season. Brendan Smith also assisted on the goal.
Just over a minute later, the Amerks cut the lead in half when captain Kevin Porter made a terrific defensive play, intercepting the puck in the left circle before finding Flynn in front of the net for Flynn’s first goal of the season and of his pro career. After that, the Amerk power play took over.
With six minutes left in the second period, the Amerks capitalized on a man-advantage opportunity to tie the game at two. Brennan fired a one-timer off a pass from Brayden McNabb and snuck the puck just inside the right post for his first goal of the season. Evan Rankin also assisted on the goal.
The Amerks struck again on the power play to take their first lead of the game when Varone scored his first goal of the season off a rebound. Luke Adam found rookie Mark Pysyk for a one-timer, and while Griffins goalie Jordan Pearce stopped the first attempt, Varone was there to knock in the rebound.
Minutes later the Amerks scored again to take a 4-2 lead. Cody Hodgson’s slap shot was tipped in by Foligno as the second-year forward notched his third goal of the season. For Hodgson, it was his team-leading fourth assist of the year. Brennan also was credited with an assist.
With two minutes left in the third period, Grand Rapids made it a one-goal game, scoring off a chaotic scramble for the puck around the net. Mitch Callahan was credited with the goal.
The Amerks fended off a late push by the Griffins to hold on for the 4-3 victory.
The oldest rivalry in the American Hockey League will be renewed on Saturday, Oct. 20 as the Amerks travel to Giant Center to take on the Hershey Bears in a battle of the league’s two oldest teams. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will mark the 445th all-time meeting between the two teams and will be carried live on Sports 1280 AM WHTK.