Late goal dooms Amerks in 5-4 loss to Syracuse
(Rochester, NY) – The Rochester Americans (22-30-0-2) bid for their third consecutive victory was snapped by a late push by the Syracuse Crunch (27-17-5-5), who scored twice in the final 1:11 of regulation, including the game-winner with just six seconds remaining, to come out on top in a wild 5-4 contest at The Blue Cross Arena to kick-off a weekend home-and-home series.
Rookie forward Hudson Fasching recorded his first career multi-goal game while newcomer Derek Grant, who was reassigned earlier in the day by the Buffalo Sabres, notched his first two-points (0+2) in his Amerks debut. Brady Austin opened the scoring on the night while goaltender Linus Ullmark, whose started 13 of the last 14 games for Rochester, made 28 saves in the defeat. The netminder shows a record of 20-20-2 on the campaign.
Matthew Peca (1+2), Adam Comrie (0+2) and Joel Vermin (1+1) all turned in multi-point efforts to close out a six-game road trip for the Crunch. Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 18 of the 23 shots he faced to improve to 10-8-6 on the season.
Entering the third period, the Amerks were down 3-2, but thanks to Fasching’s fifth and sixth goals of the season, it was the home club in front with just over seven minutes left in the frame.
“Derek (Grant) and I played together on a line in with the Sabres in the past,” said Fasching. “That helped our chemistry tonight and he and Patrick Mullen made great plays to help set up both of my goals.”
After a Rochester tripping infraction with 2:13 left in regulation, Syracuse pulled Gudlevskis for a six-on-four man-advantage and tied the contest at 4-4 with 71 seconds showing on the clock after Adam Erne batted a puck out of midair past Ullmark. However, for the Amerks, the Crunch carried the momentum and took the lead with less than six seconds remaining in the contest to put an end to Rochester’s two-game win streak as they picked up a 5-4 victory.
“The Amerks have been in a situation before when they needed to battle back and tie a game,” Grant said. “They have shown they can take over games during certain times of a period but we must learn how to close out the games as well.”
The Amerks opened the high-scoring affair with Austin’s second of the campaign at the 11:05 mark of the first period. The tally was the defenseman’s second goal in the last six games after being held without a marker in 103 straight contests. Casey Nelson and Tim Kennedy each recorded an assist.
The Crunch responded with a goal late in the first period from Peca before Cole Schneider pushed in a loose rebound to give the Amerks a 2-1 lead with his 19th goal of the slate. Schneider now shows 19 points (9+10) over his last 25 games dating back to Dec. 26 while Cal O’Reilly has 33 points (7+26) over the last 36 games, including 16 points (4+12) in his last 19 appearances after he fired the initial shot on the net.
The Crunch wasted little time to tie the game just 37 seconds later before taking at 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play. However, the Amerks knotted the score just 1:27 into the third and regained the lead midway through the final frame on back-to-back strikes from Fasching.
Syracuse, though, would make a late push as Yanni Gourde beat Ullmark from the left boards in the final seconds to seal a 5-4 win for the Crunch.
“We have to look at the fact that we were with Syracuse on the scoreboard and played with them,” Amerks head coach Dan Lambert said. “We just have to compete harder and have the will throughout the course of the game.
The same two teams meet again on Saturday, Feb. 25 as the Amerks travel to the War Memorial Arena for the final time this season to close out their season series with the Crunch at 7:00 p.m. All of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Austin (2), Schneider (19), Fasching (5, 6)
SYR: Peca (7), Vermin (12), Lynch (2), Erne (14), Gourde (19)
RCH: Ullmark – 31/36 (L)
SYR: Gudlevskis – 19/23 (W)
RCH: PP (1/3) / PK (2/4)
SYR: PP (2/4) / PK (2/3)