Jake Allen Opens 2011 With League-Best Fifth Shutout
Opponent: @Grand Rapids Griffins
Date: January 1, 2011 6:00
Score(Home/Away): 0-2 W
Jake Allen celebrated the New Year by pitching his league-best fifth shutout of the season in a 2-0 Peoria Rivermen win over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday night at Van Andel Arena. Anthony Nigro broke a scoreless tie with only 7:59 remaining as Allen finished with 30 saves to propel the Rivermen to 5-0-0 against the Griffins this year.
Peoria outshot Grand Rapids 11-8 in the first period, but neither team was able to take an early advantage. Both clubs went into the first intermission with a 0-0 score, but not without a couple of close calls.
Peoria’s best opportunity to get on the board first came halfway through the opening period when rookie Phil McRae grabbed a loose puck, side-stepped a defender, and skated down the ice on a breakaway. McRae took a forehand shot on Griffins’ goaltender Joey McDonald that was knocked into the air, deflected off the post, then off a stick and directly along the goal-line, but never crossed.
Just a few minutes later, the Griffins had their own breakaway. Francis Pare picked up a loose puck and skated alone down the ice only to be denied on a forehand shot by the Rivermen goaltender.
The second period followed the same pattern as the first. Despite a combined 17 shots in the period, neither team was able to capitalize and the game remained scoreless.
The tempers did heat up however during the second frame. At the 13:07 mark, Rivermen rookie Mark Cundari and the Griffins’ Jordan Owens dropped the gloves. Peoria also lost the services of veteran Graham Mink late in the second. At the 16:58 mark, Mink received an instigating minor along with a five-minute fighting major to put Grand Rapids on a 7-minute power play. Additionally, Mink was given a game misconduct that ended his night early.
Peoria grinded out the last 3:03of the second along with the first 3:57 of the third period while shorthanded to keep game 0-0.
Anthony Nigro broke the scoreless draw at 12:01 to put the Rivermen on top 1-0. Nikita Nikitin fed a slap-pass from the blueline to Dave Spina who redirected the pass on goal that was saved by McDonald. The rebound bounced directly to the stick of Nigro who backhanded it into the net while falling to the ice for his fifth goal of the season.
With 47 seconds left in the game, Grand Rapids pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker in a last ditch effort. It was all for not however as T.J. Hensick sealed the game at 19:42 on an empty-netter for his ninth goal of the season. Spina and Brennan Evans were credited with the assists on the goal, which put Peoria up 2-0.
Allen improved to 13-2-1-0 overall and 4-0-0 against the Griffins this season. In doing so, he lowered his goals-against average to 1.60 and raised his save percentage to .950, both of which lead all goaltenders in the American Hockey League. McDonald finished with 23 saves in recording the loss.
Peoria is now 10-0-0 in its last 10 games with the Griffins dating back to last season.
The Rivermen return home to face the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available online through www.rivermen.net and over the phone by calling (309) 676-1040.