Power play gets going, but Amerks fall in OT 3-2
Rochester, NY) … As the Utica Comets (34-24-6-4) and the Rochester Americans (31-20-11-6) combined for four power-play goals, it was the Amerks who came out on the wrong side of a 3-2 overtime score against their North Division rivals. It was also the fifth straight game between the two teams that went beyond regulation.
With Wednesday night’s overtime loss at The Blue Cross Arena, the Amerks, who have appeared in 27 games this season decided after the third period, remain one point ahead of Utica for the third place in the North Division standings.
With his third goal in the last two games, Seth Griffith tallied his 15th marker of the campaign while Zach Redmond notched his 14th of the year for Rochester, which is winless in three straight games against Utica. Goaltender Adam Wilcox suffered the loss in-between the pipes as he finished the night with 19 saves. The South St. Paul, Minn., native shows a record of 11-7-7 on the season.
Michael Chaput tallied his second three-point (2+1) performance in the last four games for Utica, which has won four of its last five games. Patrick Wiercioch chipped in a pair of helpers to give him seven points in the last eight contests while fellow blueliner Frankie Simonelli collected his first multi-point outing of the season with a goal and an assist. Netminder Thatcher Demko improved to 6-1-1 in eight games against the Amerks this season as he stopped 31 of 33. The AHL All-Star also recorded his career-best 23rd victory of the campaign.
After Griffith slipped a loose puck behind Demko to even the score at 2-2 less than four minutes into the third period, the two clubs traded chances during the remaining 16:47, but overtime was required.
Utica controlled much of the extra session as they held a 4-0 shot-advantage. Chaput would then force a turnover inside the Amerks zone and be immediately rewarded for his efforts as he netted the game-winning goal at the 3:36 mark.
“It was not the result we wanted,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “I think we took too many penalties at the start and they scored two goals as a result. Anytime you give a team a two-man advantage, it’s not going to be easy. I was pleased, however, with the way we played at some points of the game. It was tough not being able to roll four lines, but I think if we play a whole 60 minutes, it will be good going into the playoffs.”
Despite holding Utica to just four shots in the opening frame, Rochester trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes. The Amerks tied the contest at the 3:04 mark with Redmond’s power-play goal from atop the right face-off-dot.
Danny O’Regan and Sahir Gill were awarded the assists on the power-play tally.
“It will be huge in the playoffs,” said Griffith, who has four points (2+2) in his last two games, when talking about special teams. “We will have to bear down while on the man-advantage in the playoffs and do a better job of staying out of the box. Those two things will be important moving forward.”
However, Utica responded with its second power-play goal of the game with Chaput’s first of the night coming with 5:28 left in the period. The goal was scored while the Amerks were without a pair of players as they were serving high-sticking infractions.
The Comets carried a 2-1 lead into the intermission break, but Griffith knotted the score at 2-2 early in the third period to ultimately force overtime.
Griffith’s 15th goal of the season was set-up by Colin Blackwell, who celebrated his 25th birthday, and Kevin Porter, who reached the 40-point plateau for the second straight season.
Utica earned the extra point in the standings as Chaput picked the pocket of Griffith just inside the Rochester blueline and flung a shot over the blocker of Wilcox with 1:24 left in the extra frame.
“It’s more of the same results we have been getting all year,” said Redmond, who had a career-high 10 shots, when discussing overtime games. “We just haven’t found the luck in overtime this season for some reason. We did a lot of things right tonight, but we just have to learn our lessons and move on from it.”
The Amerks close out their four-game homestand on Friday, Mar. 30 when they host the Charlotte Checkers in the final meeting of the season between the two teams. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Redmond (14), Griffith (15)
UTI: Simonelli (2), Chaput (15, 16 – OT GWG)
RCH: Wilcox – 19/22 (OTL)
UTI: Demko – 31/33 (W)
RCH: PP (2/4) | PK (4/6)
UTI: PP (2/6) | PK (2/4)