Amerks leave home fans with performance to remember in 5-4 win
(Rochester, NY) – The Rochester Americans (32-40-0-3) erased three different one-goal deficits before adding a pair of goals during the final period for a 5-4 victory over the North Division rival Albany Devils (38-32-2-3) to conclude the home portion of the 2016-17 season at The Blue Cross Arena Friday night.
Evan Rodrigues led the Amerks to the win with three assists, which ties a career-high he set back on March 4 last season versus Springfield (Falcons). Veteran Derek Grant and Justin Bailey each chipped in multi-point efforts as they added a goal and an assist on the night. Hudson Fasching, Casey Nelson and Alexander Nylander capped off the scoring for Rochester, which improved to 9-2-0-1 in its last 12 games on home ice. Goaltender Linus Ullmark stopped 30 of 34 shots he faced to improve his record to 26-26-2 on the slate. The Swedish netminder and Amerks MVP earned his fourth straight win dating back to March 24 against the Thunderbirds.
Joe Blandis (1+1), Jan Mandat (1+1) and Nick Lappin (1+1) all notched a two-point efforts while Carter Camper opened the scoring on the night with his sixth goal of the season. First-year netminder Ken Appleby took the loss for the A-Devils despite making 26 saves.
Just prior to the end of the middle frame, Grant tied the game at 2-2 with his 11th of the season while the Amerks were on the power-play. His marker with 14 second left in the period was assisted by Bailey and Rodrigues. Rochester rode the energy from the late goal and grabbed its first lead of the contest with Bailey’s tally just 43 seconds into the final stanza.
With the puck at the left point, Rodrigues fired a shot-pass off the end boards that Cole Schneider scooped up. The Amerks leading point-getter this season tucked behind the cage before centering a pass to Bailey. With one motion as he was walking down the center of the zone, he ripped home his 23rd goal of the season to give the Amerks 4-3 lead.
“The late goal in the second period and then the early one by Bailey were huge for us,” said Rodrigues. “It definitely swung the game in our direction and carried us during the third.”
On the Amerks next shot nearly four minutes later and while on a three-on-one rush entering the zone, Fasching looked to Nylander and Grant before firing the puck past the glove of Appleby. The unassisted tally was his eighth of the slate and held up as the game-winning goal, the first of his career, after Albany cut the lead to 5-4 inside the last minute of regulation.
Albany opened the scoring on the night after the Amerks were unable to capitalize on their first of two five-on-three power-plays with Camper’s goal at the 13:10 mark of the first period. However, Rochester tied the score at 1-1 with 65 seconds to go in the frame with Nelson’s seventh of the season. The marker extends the Amerks streak of scoring in the first period to eight straight games.
After the Devils regained their lead, Nylander brought the game even again with his 10th of the season while the Amerks were on their second five-on-three advantage of the night. Grant and Rodrigues exchanged quick passes before Grant hit Nyalnder back-door for the tap-in goal with 5:54 left in the frame.
“As a team, no one got frustrated after they took the lead,” Bailey said. “We stuck to our game plan and what was working. We are playing probably our best hockey of the season right now and guys are playing loose and having fun.”
Despite allowing a goal from Mandat to put the visitors up by a goal, Grant knotted the game at 3-3 just before the end of the sandwich stanza. The marker was Rochester’s second straight goal while on the power-play. The Amerks carried the momentum into the final period of play as they scored a pair goals, killed off another penalty and then held off a late push by the Devils.
The Amerks finished the night 2-for-8 while on the man-advantage and successfully killed off all three penalties on the night. Rochester’s penalty kill unit closed out the season at home allowing just two goals while shorthanded in its last 12 games, going 35-for-37 (94.5%) over that span.
The Amerks bring the 2016-17 season to a close on Saturday, April 15 with a rematch against the Devils at the Times Union Center. The final contest of their 61st season is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Nelson (7), Nylander (10), Grant (11), Bailey (23), Fasching (8)
ALB: Camper (6), Blandisi (8), Mandat (6), Lappin (14)
RCH: Ullmark – 30/34 (W)
ALB: Appleby – 26/31 (L)
RCH: PP (2/8) / PK (3/3)
ALB: PP (0/3) / PK (6/8)
Amerks 2016-17 Year-End Award Winners
Game-Winning Goals – Nick Baptiste (4) / Cole Schneider (4)
Fairand/O’Neil Sportsmanship Award – Linus Ullmark
Rob Zabelny Unsung Hero Award – Justin Vaive
McCulloch Trophy for Community Service – Mac Bennett
AHL Man of the Year Award – Mac Bennett
Rookie of the Year – Alexander Nylander
Most Popular Player – Linus Ullmark
Most Improved Player – Eric Cornel
Scoring Champion – Cole Schneider
Most Valuable Player – Linus Ullmark