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Rochester Recap: Sluggish Amerks fall to Grand Rapids

I think that, maybe, the Amerks played hockey Wednesday night. I think. At least, the Grand Rapids Griffins did. The Amerks might have missed the date.

“Somebody tell the truth: What’s a man to do?” (The Band of Heathens, Somebody Tell the Truth)

The Griffins rolled into town Wednesday night for a Thanksgiving-style double header, to be finished Friday night, but you’d be hard pressed to know that the Rochester Americans were even in the building. I mean, we did all have the sense of “oh, not this again” when Griffins centre Andy Miele scored a little over a minute into the first period. And then Andreas Athanasiou did it again, almost three minutes later. The arena took a collective breath, looked at each other, and wondered if we were in for a long night.

I give Nathan Lieuwen a lot of credit. He bounced back, which hadn’t been the case in previous appearances, despite the crummy team in front of him. Head Coach Chadd Cassidy gave him credit, too. “It was a good bounce back for him. I was impressed with the way he battled after a tough start. I was happy with the way he was able to get the train back on the tracks.” The rest of the team, however, he didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about following Friday’s eventual 3-1 loss. “We looked tonight like we didn’t want the puck. Our decision-making was really slow. It wasn’t pretty out there tonight. It was men against boys.” Rochester’s lone goal was scored by veteran forward Matt Ellis, with assists to Mark Pysyk and Mikhail Grigorenko.

As a whole, Cassidy talked about the defensive core being “bumpy, a day late and a dollar short; whichever way you look at it,” and he’s right. The defense was slow and sloppy, certainly highlighted by poor play from both Chad Ruhwedel and Jake McCabe. And, McCabe will tell you: he hasn’t been the best defensive player so far this season. The team isn’t always connected; they don’t always play on the same page, and tonight was definitely one of those nights. Ruhwedel’s lead feet lead to a breakaway shorthanded goal in the third period from Landon Ferraro. It was the kind of goal that you really wish that your team scores, because it’s so freaking beautiful. It was the kind of defensive move that leaves you wondering what the heck Ruhwedel was thinking, as he kind of watched Ferraro just reach around him and go for it.

And, not that we’re here to talk about the other team, but Ferraro, Athanasiou, and Anthony Mantha are certainly the kids to watch on that Griffins team. If the Amerks don’t wake the heck up on Friday, they’re in for a world of trouble. Puck drops at 7:05, as usual, and I will be in my favorite spot. I hope that everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving, if you are the sort, and a pleasant Thursday if you’re not. See ya Friday!

Talking Points