The Rochester Americans got back to their winning ways on home ice Friday night by defeating the Albany Devils 4-2 in front of 6,313 fans at The Blue Cross Arena, improving to 5-1-0-0 at home during the month of November.
With the teams tied 2-2 after two periods of play, Colin Stuart and Derek Whitmore each scored in the third period to help lift the Amerks to victory. Stuart, Shaone Morrisonn and Jacob Lagace each finished with a goal and an assist for Rochester while Matt MacKenzie collected two assists and goaltender David Leggio stopped 27 of 29 shots to earn the win in net.
Stuart’s goal with 9:34 remaining in the third period proved to be the game-winner. After taking a cross-crease pass from center Paul Szczechura, the Amerks’ captain lifted the puck over Devils netminder Jeff Frazee before the players collided and crashed to the ice. The goal was Stuart’s second point of the game, giving him 15 points (7+8) for the year and taking over the team-lead from Zack Kassian, who made his NHL debut tonight for Buffalo.
Newcomer Evan Rankin, who signed a pro tryout with the Amerks earlier in the day, recorded an assist on the play. Despite several Amerks having been called up to Buffalo over the past two weeks, Stuart said after the game that it hasn’t caused the team to panic.
“We play with whoever puts an Americans jersey on,” Stuart said. “We don’t worry about who’s here or who isn’t. There are plenty of players here who have a lot to prove.”
Albany got on the board first in the contest when defenseman Alexander Urbom tallied his first goal of the year with a slap shot from the point. The unassisted goal came 3:24 into the first period.
The Amerks evened things up late in the first on the power play when Morrisonn capitalized on a rebound. The goal was Morrisonn’s first as an Amerk and left the teams tied at one after one period of play.
The Devils took the lead once again with 13:54 remaining in the second period as Darcy Zajac’s backhander made its way past Leggio. With just under three minutes remaining in the second, Lagace scored a breakaway goal to knot the game at two after Alex Biega and Matt MacKenize moved the puck up ice to spring Lagace for the goal, his sixth of the season.
Later in the third, Whitmore put the game out of reach when he notched his sixth goal of the season, increasing the Amerks’ lead to 4-2.
“We talked a lot about finishing games and what we need to do to be successful in close games,” Head Coach Ron Rolston said. “This has been a good third period team all season long and that shows the character of this team.”
The Amerks continue their three-game holiday homestand on Saturday as the Hamilton Bulldogs return to Western New York for the second time this season. The 7:35 p.m. North Division matchup will be the fourth of 10 meetings between the division rivals and will be carried live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.