Through five games, the Motor City Rockers have yet to lose in regulation and have earned at least one point in each of those games. These are good things. But in two of those contests, they've lost a late lead only to go on and lose in a shootout, losing precious points along the way. These are bad things. I know it's early, no need to over-react to early season games, but in a division that I expect to be highly competitive for a playoff spot, those lost points could come back to haunt them as the Rockers could very easily be 5-0 with 15 points right now. Instead, Motor City sits at 3-0-2 for 10 points after Friday night's 3-2 shootout loss to the all-new Elmira River Sharks at First Arena in Elmira, New York before an announced crowd of 1,097.
The Rockers came out on fire in the first, dominating the play and the shots on net and they also struck first thanks to a powerplay goal. Jamie Milam's shot was stopped by Elmira goaltender Spencer Kozlowski but rookie Pavel Svinstsov was there to deposit the rebound into the net for the 1-0 lead at 6:10. Brad Reitter picked up the other assist on Svintsov's third of the season. Give all credit to Kozlowski, his stellar play in net kept things close for Elmira early, allowing the River Sharks to settle in and start playing their game. They did not beat Rockers goalie Trevor Babin in the first, but the shots ended up only 13-11 for Motor City as Elmira started to gain momentum.
Elmira evened things up in the second with a powerplay goal of their own when Nick Gullo picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it bast Babin at 4:37. Cooper Bowman and Cameron Yarwood picked up the assists on Gullo's first of the season. The River Sharks carried the play in the period, out-shooting Motor City 18-9, but the Rockers took advantage of a bad giveaway late in the period to retake the lead. Brad Reitter picked up the errant pass, fed it to Svintsov who found team captain Danny Vanderwiel for his third goal of the season at 18:10.
Things stayed that way through most of the third until Elmira again capitalized on a powerplay. With rookie Tim Delaney in the box, Kona Jackson fired one at the net that eluded Babin. It appeared to have changed direction on the way to the net, but as it stands now Jackson is still credited with the goal from Stavros Soilis and Rasmus Asp at 18:19. Elmira out-shot Motor City 10-7 in the period and came away with the only goal to send it to overtime knotted at two.
The Rockers had a golden opportunity in the extra period when Mike Winn was hooked on a near break-in, sending Motor City to the power play with 2:18 left. But Kozlowski again stood tall, stopping all four Motor City shots in the extra session to send it to the shootout. And for the second time this season, Motor City failed to score on any of their shootout attempts as Nick Magill-Diaz, Scott Coash and Svintsov all were denied. In the third round for Elmira, Gullo was the hero as he snapped one right past Babin for the winning goal.
Much like their shootout loss last week in their home opener against the Blue Ridge Bobcats, the Rockers have a quick chance for redemption tonight as these same two teams are right back at it for the rematch. Face-off at First Arena is 6:07 PM.