Amerks in 2-0 series hole after 6-5 game two loss
Syracuse, NY - Despite the Rochester Americans scoring a pair of goals in each of the second and third periods of Saturday’s Game 2 North Division Semifinal matchup, the Syracuse Crunch outlasted the Amerks as they came away with the 6-5 win at the War Memorial Arena. The Crunch hold a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five opening round entering Wednesday’s must-win Game 3 back in Rochester.
The Amerks were led by Stuart Percy, Kevin Porter and Colin Blackwell’s two-point performances while Justin Bailey and Nick Baptiste each scored their first professional postseason goals in the loss. Goaltender Linus Ullmark made 16 saves in the contest but was tagged with his second straight defeat.
Matthew Peca (1+3), Alexander Volkov (2+0), Eric Condra (0+2) and former Amerk Mat Bodie (0+2) all helped the Crunch to their 13th home win in the last 14 games dating back to last season’s Calder Cup run as they finished with multi-point efforts. Mathieu Joseph, Reid McNeill and Olivier Archambault rounded out the scoring while netminder Eddie Pasquale stopped 20 of 25 shots he faced in saves in the winning effort.
Trailing 6-5 with 11:15 to play in regulation, the Amerks seemed to catch a break as they had 47 seconds of a 5-on-3 man-advantage to work with after high-sticking and delay of game infractions were assessed to Syracuse. The Crunch, however, were able to successfully kill off both penalties to preserve their one-goal cushion.
“It was tough,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor, when talking about not being able to capitalize on the two-man advantage. “In playoff games, special teams are a big part of the game, but we just could not find a way.”
The Amerks continued to find the equalizer as the clock was dwindling down, but Pasquale held off Rochester to grab a 2-0 series lead and put the Amerks on the brink of elimination.
“I thought we pushed back tonight,” Baptiste said. “Last night they came at us pretty hard, but I thought we had a better answer tonight. We have to try and start every game like that. We cannot let a team go up 4-1 in the playoffs. Syracuse is a good team and in the playoffs for a reason. We now have to regroup, go back to Rochester and take it one period at a time.”
Syracuse opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game but Blackwell redirected a Percy shot to even the score at 1-1 at the 15:43 mark.
After collecting a pair of assists in last night’s matchup, Seth Griffith was awarded the secondary helper on the power-play tally.
The Crunch countered to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission break as they scored with 1:29 left in the period.
The home squad continued to ride the energy into the second stanza as they took a 4-1 advantage less than three minutes into the frame.
Rochester, however, responded after using its timeout and tallied a pair of goals just 52 seconds apart to make it a 4-3 game.
“We showed a lot of resilience after the timeout,” said Blackwell. “Coach ‘Tayls’ calmed us down and basically said we have nearly two full periods of hockey left in the game. Before the timeout we had a few mistakes that came back to cost us and they were able to put the puck into the net.”
The two clubs tightened down for the remainder of the period as they combined for just 12 shots in the second stanza, but Rochester faced a one-goal deficit going into the final frame of regulation.
After emerging from the dressing rooms, the Amerks and Crunch joined to score four goals in a span of 2:06 early in the final period.
The Crunch began the scoring barrage, and despite third-period goals from Porter and Baptiste, Rochester was unable to get one more past Pasquale and fell one goal short of tying the game.
“Much like last night I thought we had a good start,” said Taylor. “We used the body and finished our checks, but we weren’t able to find the tying goal.”
The Amerks look to stave off elimination as the best-of-five series shifts back to Rochester on Wednesday, April 25 for Game 3 of the North Division Semifinals at The Blue Cross Arena. Opening puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
Game 1 | Friday, April 20 – Rochester (2) at Syracuse (6) | Syracuse leads 1-0
Game 2 | Saturday, April 21 – Rochester (5) at Syracuse (6) | Syracuse leads 2-0
Game 3 | Wednesday, April 25 – Syracuse at Rochester
Game 4*| Friday, April 27 – Syracuse at Rochester
Game 5* | Saturday, April 28 – Rochester at Syracuse
RCH: Blackwell (1), Bailey (1), Percy (1), Porter (1), Baptiste (1)
SYR: Peca (1), Joseph (1), Archambault (1), McNeill (1), Volkov (1, 2)
RCH: Ullmark – 16/22 (L)
SYR: Pasquale – 20/25 (W)
RCH: PP (1/3) | PK (2/3)
SYR: PP (1/3) | PK (2/3)