The Rochester Americans dropped a 3-1 decision to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday night as the two teams closed out a two-game weekend set at Van Andel Arena. The Amerks scored first on a goal by defenseman Nick Crawford, but the Griffins responded with a goal in the second period and two more in the third to secure the victory.
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Nathan Lieuwen started in goal for Rochester and earned third star honors by stopping 30 of 33 shots on goal. Crawford scored the lone Amerks goal on assists by Kevin Porter and Chad Ruhwedel, who extended his point streak to three games. Porter, meanwhile, has recorded seven points in the last six games. Defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc finished with a team-high five shots on goal.
Griffins goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped 29 Rochester shots, including a third period penalty shot by Alex Hutchings, and recorded an assist on his team’s first goal. Teemu Pulkkinen, David McIntyre and Jeff Hoggan each scored a goal for Grand Rapids
For the second night in a row, Rochester took the early lead with a first period goal. Porter gained control of the puck along the right wing boards and fed Ruhwedel for a one-timer from the point. With Johan Larsson screening Mrazek in front, the Griffins netminder made the initial save on Ruhwedel’s blast, but the rebound kicked out to the bottom of the left face-off circle, and Crawford was there to sweep in the rebound for his second goal of the season at 15:55 of the opening period.
Grand Rapids tied the game at the 5:25 mark of the second period with a power play goal. After the Griffins goaltender teed up the puck for Nathan Paetsch, Pulkkinen took a pass in his own zone from Paetsch and sped through the neutral zone, over the Rochester blue line and fired a wrist shot through traffic and into the top left corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
Early in the third period, the Griffins took their first lead of the night following a quick reversal of fortunes. First, Rochester’s Hutchings was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked from behind on a breakaway. Hutchings, however, was stopped on the penalty shot opportunity when Mrazek just got a skate on the offering. Just 16 seconds later, McIntyre’s wrist shot through traffic from the high slot beat Lieuwen and gave Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead at 2:44 of the third period.
Grand Rapids added a late insurance goal on the power play. Luke Glendening dug the puck out on the end boards and made a no-look, back-handed pass to the slot, where a driving Hoggan one-timed it past Lieuwen for the goal to seal the victory.
The Amerks return home on Wednesday, Dec. 11 as they host the North Division rival Lake Erie Monsters at The Blue Cross Arena in a final tune-up before the teams take it outside at the 2013 Frozen Frontier on Friday, Dec. 13. Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the third of 10 meetings this season and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.