The All-Star break has come to a close which means the season is starting to wind down for the Rochester Americans, which is probably considered a good thing. The team is on the road this weekend for back to back games against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
A week ago against Thursday when they lost to the Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx used the term “bus lag” to describe the loss and the Rochester Americans lack of what seemed to be effort.
Up until this mornings game day skate, the Rochester Americans have been off the ice since last Saturday when they were shutout against the Albany River Rats in Albany. The coaching staff had told the players to have some fun and get their minds off of hockey for a few days, we’ll see tonight how it worked out.
The two games this weekend are games three and four of six that will be played this season. The Griffins have won both previous games, the most recent was a 6-0 win over the Amerks on December 21st at Blue Cross Arena. The Rochester Americans are 16-18-2 all-time against the Detroit Red Wings’ affiliate.
The team will be traveling without their top scorer in center Janis Sprukts, he has been loaned to the Latvian National Team and will participate in the 2010 Olympic qualifying tournament to be held in Riga, Latvia from Feb. 5-8. Sprukts will return to Rochester and be eligible to play when the Americans open a five-game road trip in Iowa on Feb. 10.
The Griffins are in second place behind the Manitoba Moose in the Western Conference, with these two games we’ll be able to see if last weekend was just that, a bad weekend, or more like a step back to reality. The Amerks are still in last place in the league, six points behind the Lake Erie Monsters.
It’ll be a tough couple of games against one of the highest scoring teams in the league while the Amerks are the lowest scoring team.
Stefan Meyer (knee), Kenndal McArdle (shoulder), and Jacob Micflikier (foot) are all sidelined from injuries. Meyer should be back any day now. Riley Emmerson has also been out since January 14th nursing an ankle injury.
There are 37 games remaining on the schedule, all but four games (3 vs Lake Erie, 1 vs San Antonio) will be against teams that will be working hard to earn a playoff spot.
Both games are slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1280 WHTK, whtk.com and AHL Live.