Amerks drop series opener to Syracuse 6-2
(Syracuse, NY) … The Rochester Americans and Syracuse Crunch exchanged a pair of goals during the opening period of Friday’s Game 1 North Division Semifinals, but the Crunch outscored the Amerks 4-0 over the final 40 minutes to came away with a 6-2 win at the War Memorial Arena.
The Amerks were paced by Seth Griffith’s two assists while Zach Redmond and Kyle Criscuolo scored their first markers of the postseason. Goaltender Linus Ullmark, who was one of several Amerks to make their AHL playoff debuts, stopped 28 of 33 but was tagged with the loss.
Gabriel Dumont (3+1) and Jamie McBain (1+2) each recorded multi-point outings for the Crunch, who improved to 12-1 on home ice dating back to last spring’s Calder Cup Playoffs. Dominik Masin and Brendan Bradley rounded out the scoring while netminder Eddie Pasquale made 28 saves in a winning-effort.
After allowing the Amerks to even the game at 2-2 late in the first period, Syracuse responded with four straight unanswered goals, starting with a marker 1:44 into the second stanza.
“I thought we started off pretty good,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “We played well in the first, and again in the second period, but we could not finish on some of the opportunities we had. In the third period, though, I did not think we came out as hard as we did the first two periods and it cost us tonight.”
“It was a close game,” said Redmond, Rochester’s leading point-getter during the regular season. “We know our game-plan. We know we have to play the way we are capable and do the things that made us get to this point. It was a couple bounces here or there and it was a tight game.”
Matthew Peca fired a shot from the left of Ullmark, but the rebound found its way to Masin atop the crease. The blueliner sprinted towards the loose puck before he banged in his first goal of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs, giving the Crunch a 3-2 lead.
Syracuse carried the one-goal cushion into the intermission break while holding a 27-10 shot-advantage.
“I thought the first two periods we played a great game,” said Amerks captain Kevin Porter. “They were able to get a couple of goals during the third, but we had a few chances earlier in the game and we weren’t able to finish the plays. I think the score doesn’t indicate how close of a game it really was. We have to regroup and be better tomorrow.”
The Crunch used the energy from their home crowd and doubled the lead at the 8:27 mark of the final period of regulation as Bradley fired in a cross-ice pass from Daniel Walcott.
Rochester tried to make a push but was penalized 57 seconds apart to give the Crunch a five-on-three-man advantage with just under six minutes left to play. Syracuse would capitalize, needing only 14 seconds into the two man-advantage as Dumont redirected a shot on the doorstep to make it a 5-2 lead.
The Amerks pulled Ullmark late in the stanza to give way for the extra attacker, but Dumont put an end to any hopes of a Rochester comeback as he slid the puck into the vacant net to cap a four-point night and a 6-2 win for the Crunch
The Amerks will look to even the series tomorrow night when they meet the Crunch in Game 2 of the best-of-five series at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Redmond (1), Criscuolo (1)
SYR: Dumont (1, 2, 3), McBain (1), Masin (1), Bradley (1)
RCH: Ullmark – 28/33 (L)
SYR: Pasquale – 28/30 (W)
RCH: PP (1/5) | PK (3/4)
SYR: PP (1/4) | PK (4/5)