Amerks comeback falls short in Syracuse
(Syracuse, NY) – After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, the Rochester Americans (22-31-0-2) pulled within a goal less than five minutes into the third but could not find the equalizer as they suffered a 4-3 loss to the intrastate rival Syracuse Crunch (28-17-5-5) in the second game of a weekend home-and-home series Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena. The contest was the 10th and final meeting between the two North Division foes this season.
For the second time in the last three games, Tim Kennedy paced the Amerks with his fifth multi-point (0+2) effort of the season. The veteran forward has recorded six assists over his last five games. Alexander Nylander sparked the Amerks scoring with a power-play tally before Kyle Bonis and Nick Baptiste capped off the goals. Goaltender John Muse made 31 saves in his second start in the last five games but took the loss.
Erik Condra led the North Division-leading Crunch with his first-career hat trick while Yanni Gourde, who provided the game-winner in last night’s 5-4 win in Rochester, contributed to the offense with his 20th goal of the campaign to go along with an assist. Adam Wilcox improved his record on the season to 18-9-4 after turning aside 27 shots over the course of the night.
After allowing three goals in the opening period, including one in the game’s first minute, the Amerks got on the board with Nylander’s second power-play goal of the season and seventh overall 8:57 into the middle frame. The rookie’s tally was his second in the last four games from Kennedy and newcomer Derek Grant, who picked up a pair of assists in his Amerks debut last night.
Syracuse, however, would regain its three-goal lead with Condra’s third of the night at the 15:59 mark after he beat Muse on a one-timer from a tough angle to make it a 4-1 game. The hat trick was the first three-goal performance allowed by the Amerks since Hunter Shinkaruk of the Utica Comets back on Oct. 21 of last season.
Despite trailing 4-1 after 40 minutes of play, the Amerks made a strong push over the course of the third period, beginning just 2:25 into the stanza. Bonis was able to poke a loose puck into the back of the cage for his sixth of the campaign from rookies Eric Cornel and Casey Nelson.
Less than two minutes later, Kennedy spotted Baptiste to the right of Wilcox and fired a pass onto the stick of the second-year pro to bring Rochester within one. Baptiste wasted little time and buried his team-leading 20th goal of the season past the catching glove of the netminder, becoming the first Amerk to reach the 20-goal mark in just 45 games this season.
Despite outshooting the Crunch 15-4 over the final 20 minutes, the Amerks could not complete the comeback as Syracuse held on for their second straight victory over Rochester in the last 24 hours.
The two clubs combined for 56 penalties minutes in the contest, including 43 in the first period. The Amerks power-play unit was one-for-three with the man advantage and has scored in three of their last five games, going 3-for-16 for an 18.8% success rate over that span.
The Amerks return home to The Blue Cross Arena for a four-game homestand, beginning on Friday, March 3 as they welcome the St. John’s IceCaps for a 7:05 p.m. face-off on Hall of Fame Night. All of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Nylander (7), Bonis (6), Baptiste (20)
SYR: Condra (8, 9, 10), Gourde (20)
RCH: Muse – 31/35 (L)
SYR: Wilcox – 27/30 (W)
RCH: PP (1/3) / PK (5/6)
SYR: PP (1/6) / PK (2/3)