Once again, I forgot to post this. I’ll add my own thoughts at the end of Allan’s recap. – J
1. Good job of holding it together after giving up another 3rd period lead. The team stuck to how they had played the whole game and when they got the lead back the D stepped up and shut Grand Rapids down.
2. Coach Daniels mixed the centers up a good bit on the 4th line and it paid off on the first goal. Matsumoto kept the play alive in the corner and made a good feed back to the point for Jordan. Jordan ripped a nice shot and Soryal and Staal both were in front causing traffic. Soryal got his stick on it for a nice deflected goal.
3. Overall the PP looked better, but not great, they almost scored twice in the last 16 seconds of the first period. Dalpe did a nice job of staying with the blocked shot in the second period which led to a rebound and a wide open net he put away. They did give up an awful three on one shorthanded rush that Grand Rapids messed up. Still need to pass a little quicker to open up the other team. Missing Samson on the PP unit really makes a difference.
4. The PK unit was very solid and did a much better job than against Hershey but I’m sure every AHL team does better on the PK when not facing Hershey.
5. Grand Rapids had a goal waved off in the second that was questionable but they got it back when the puck went off Rissanen’s skate right back to Grand Rapids for an easy goal late in the second period.
6. Chris Murray absolutely destroyed Trevor Parkes in a second period fight. Parkes nailed Murray in the corner and he went right back after him near the penalty box. I was surprised the refs let it go as long as they did. Murray kept landing pretty clean shots on Parkes who was just trying to pull Murray down to stop it. Only bad part was Murray taking an additional minor penalty to get the fight started.
7. Not sure what started Boychuck and Tatar’s fight but it did not last long as Tatar pulled Boychuck down pretty fast and it was over.
8. While the fourth line played pretty well for most of the game they got burned bad on the equalizer in the second period. The forwards got sucked in pretty deep and a turnover led to a breakout the other way and a pretty easy one-two goal. Defensively having McNicoll and Staal on the same line is not that great because both can be knocked off the puck fairly easily for different reasons. Coach Daniels mixing the centers up on that line had been working better till that point.
9. Congrats to Rasmus Rissanen for the game winner and his first AHL goal. He only scored 5 goals in 2 years in the WHL but you can see the speed and puck handling ability coming around as he continues to play. I think he surprised the whole Grand Rapids team with the aggressivness of his rush and Joey MacDonald was not ready for that little wrist shot. Rissanen and Krueger continue to get more comfortable with puck handling and should add some more bonus offense by the end of the year.
10. The Checkers pretty easily handled the 6-5 empty net situation at the end of the game with Terry sniping a beauty from the red line to finish the game off.
11. Good game by the team as they continue to battle it out while waiting for the reinforments to return from injury and the NHL. I do hope they give Sean Dolan a SPC to keep him with the team or at least so they can send him to Florida instead of his previous ECHL team South Carolina.
Jenni’s Thoughts about Hershey and Grand Rapids:
- I cringed a bit in the third when Chris Terry got that breakaway goal last night, and ended up crashing into Joey MacDonald. He would have had a fair chance to shoot the puck, but the Grand Rapids player (I didn’t jot down his name, only the play that occurred) grabbed Terry from behind and not only kept CT from shooting the puck, but also caused both skaters to go crashing into MacDonald in a play that almost resembled the fateful one that resulted in MacDonald missing 11 games due to a concussion in November.
- My jaw dropped when the first goal of the night was scored… really? A line with Matsumoto, Soryal and Staal? I hope that was a line change and not an actual, intentional line because there is no stranger center with those two wingers than I have ever seen. Granted, it worked, but that doesn’t make it less odd.
- The more I watch them, the more I like watching both Justin Krueger and Rasmus Rissanen. Neither one of them score a lot of goals, but is that really what defensemen are supposed to do? Rissanen took a couple of dumb penalties in the first, but he’s a really smart player who learns from his mistakes and seems to adapt pretty well. He played a clean remainder of the game, and who can forget him scoring the game winner!
- Kudos to the Checkers organization on their continued awesomeness. First of all, I hear the “Checkers with the Checkers” event was fantastic. I hate I missed it! Secondly, thank you to the organization AND the fans that showed up yesterday. 11,000 plus on a Sunday afternoon is pretty great!
- While the Checkers came away with only one point against Hershey, there are a lot of positives to take from those games. While down a skater, the Checkers made it to the shootout, which in and of itself is a huge feat. The second game was a loss by Charlotte, but there were great things happening on the ice. Hershey is a team that blows away their opponents, and wins hockey games with scores of 5-2 or 6-4. Charlotte isn’t like that, at all. The fact that the Checkers lost by one goal in each game is a big deal, and something that should be built upon. Hershey, partially as a result of their wins in Charlotte, took over the number one spot in the league. (For the record, the Checkers are in fourth… not too shabby!)
- Overall, the feel of both Hershey games was playoff hockey. It was disciplined, and hard-hitting, and just incredibly impressive as a fan of the Charlotte team. If they can continue with that kind of focus for a full 60-minutes each game, this team can go far!