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Griffs stumble against Americans

by Andrea Nelson / Detroit Red Wings

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – In their first road game of the season, the Grand Rapids Griffins fell to the former division rival Rochester Americans 4-3 Friday at Blue Cross Arena. After trailing 2-0, the Americans scored four unanswered goals and capitalized on three power plays to take a lead that was too much for the Griffins to overcome.

After facing Rochester (2-2-0-0) at least six times per year dating back to 2005-06, the Griffins (will only face the Americans one other time this season after moving to the Midwest Division from the North Division this summer.

Tomas Jurco tallied the first goal of his professional career and of the night at 5:48 of the first period. Trevor Parkes beat a Rochester defenseman to a loose puck and found a wide-open Jurco in front of the net on a pass from the right corner. Jurco wasted no time sneaking a shot under goaltender David Leggio’s right arm to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead.

The Griffins opened up the second period with an early goal, as Landon Ferraro deflected a low forehand shot into the upper right hand corner of the net. Stepping up from his defensive spot, Brendan Smith found Ferraro in between the hash marks, and Ferraro notched his third point in as many games to give Grand Rapids a 2-0 lead at 3:08 of the second period.

The Amerks responded just over one minute later, when Kevin Porter picked off Adam Almquist’s pass as he was skating up the ice. Porter quickly set up Brian Flynn on the doorstep and Flynn found the back of the net for his first professional goal, cutting the Griffins lead to 2-1 at 4:21 of the second period.

T.J. Brennan tied the score on a power play goal at 13:58 of the second period. The defenseman tallied the first of three straight power play markers for Rochester on a long shot from the right point, sneaking the puck inside the right post before Griffins goaltender Jordan Pearce could slide across the crease.

The Americans opened up the game in the third period, scoring two power play goals within five minutes. Phil Varone gave Rochester their first lead of the night, scoring on a deflection from teammate Kevin Porter at 8:34. Minutes later, Cody Hodgson and Brennan worked the puck back in forth in front of the net, causing Pearce to leave the right side of the net open for Marcus Foligno to tip in Hodgson’s shot at 12:56.

The Griffins rallied late in the third period, as Triston Grant scored from the side of the net in a mad scramble at 17:56. Grand Rapids pulled the goaltender for an extra skater around the two minute mark, but it was unable to get the equalizer.

Pearce stopped 26 of 30 attempts on the night, while Leggio earned the victory with 30 saves.

The Griffins will stay on the road for their next contest, playing in Toronto against the Marlies at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Three Stars : 1. RCH Porter (assist); 2. RCH Brennan (PPG, assist); 3 RCH Flynn (goal)

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