Amerks win out in home opener
(Rochester, NY) – The Rochester Americans (1-0-0-0) opened their 62nd American Hockey League season with a 3-1 win over the defending Eastern Conference Champion Syracuse Crunch (0-1-0-0) Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
Second-year forward Justin Bailey notched a pair of goals and four shots, both of which led all Amerks, while newcomer Steve Moses capped of the scoring for Rochester. Goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 of 29 saves in the victory, coming within just 2:26 of his second career shutout.
Mitchell Stephens spoiled Ullmark’s shutout bid late in the final period while former Amerk Michael Leighton stopped 17 of the 20 shots he faced but took the loss.
After each of the North Division rivals exchanged hooking penalties and chances during the opening 20 minutes of play, Bailey opened the scoring on the night with 1:28 left in the stanza. Defenseman Zach Redmond, who joined the Amerks via trade earlier in the week, recorded the lone assist on the tally.
“I haven’t scored in a long time, so starting off with a few goals in the first game was good,” said Bailey. “It has been a couple of months and a long summer, so it felt really good to score.”
The Amerks wasted little time after the first intermission break when Moses scored a power-play goal just 66 seconds into the middle stanza. Kyle Criscuolo and C.J. Smith picked up the helpers on the marker.
As the teams traded more infractions throughout the period, the Amerks took a 2-0 lead into the locker room after 40 minutes of play despite being outshot 21-15.
“As a team, we started off very well and it continued throughout the game,” said Bailey. “All four lines contributed in their own way and it was awesome hockey to be a part of.”
During the final period, Bailey upped the Rochester lead to 3-0 with his unassisted goal at the 14:37 mark to finish off the Amerks scoring.
Ullmark made timely saves throughout the contest but Stephens spoiled the shutout with 2:26 left but held off the Crunch for the remainder of the game despite Syracuse pulling Leighton for the extra-attacker.
“It was good to get the two points,” said Chris Taylor after winning his first game as Amerks head coach. “I also thought Linus played really well and made some big-time saves. I thought at times the puck actually went into the net during the second period, but he was outstanding.”