The Rochester Americans completed a three-game homestand on Friday night with a 4-3 loss to the Houston Aeros at The Blue Cross Arena, snapping Rochester’s two-game winning streak. The Amerks built a 2-0 in the first period, but the Aeros rallied for the win, marking their seventh consecutive road victory.
“They are where they are in the standings and on the road for a reason,” said Head Coach Ron Rolston after the game. “They have won eight games on the road and lost two, one was a shootout loss and both of them were to Oklahoma City, who is ahead of them in the standings.”
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes on goals by Shaone Morrisonn and Evan Rankin, the Amerks, playing in front on 4,494 fans at The Blue Cross Arena, surrendered three goals in the second period and eventually saw Houston score the game-winner early in the third. Rankin also scored in the second period for his first career two-goal game in the AHL.
Rankin and Mark Voakes, who collected two assists, led the Amerks offensively with two points apiece, while Morrisonn’s goal, which came on the power play, extended his point streak to a season-high three games. Goaltender David Leggio finished with 22 saves between the pipes.
Joel Broda scored twice for Houston while Kris Foucault recorded a goal and an assist and Chad Rau notched two assists. Justin Fontaine also lit the lamp for the Aeros and netminder Darcy Kuemper turned aside 23 of 26 Rochester shots in his first start of the season.
The Amerks quickly jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal just 2:21 into the contest. Paul Szczechura threaded a perfect pass from the left half-wall through the middle of the Houston penalty-kill box to Morrisonn at the right face-off dot, who deposited a wrister to the top shelf past Kuemper.
The tally represented Morrisson’s second goal of the season and fourth point in the last three games.
Rochester doubled its lead to 2-0 at 13:12, as Rankin pounced on a loose puck to net his first goal as an Amerk. After a shot from the high slot off of a rush by Matt Mackenzie was turned away by Kuemper, Rankin was there to slide home the rebound for his second point in three games since being signed to a PTO last week.
The Aeros opened up the middle frame with goals from Broda and Foucault within the first 3:16 of the period. First, Broda scored from the slot off a Rau centering pass from behind the net as Broda sent a dribbler toward the net that barely found its way across the goal-line. Foucault was then the beneficiary of a fortuitous bounce with Houston skating with the man-advantage, as his centering pass from the right side of the net ricocheted in off the skate of a Rochester defender in front.
The Amerks quickly responded to retake the lead just 31 seconds after the Aeros knotted things up, as Rankin capitalized on the second straight goal off an opposing defender. After driving wide down the right wing side off the rush, he sent the puck toward the slot and watched it bounce in off the skate of a Houston defenseman as he was hauled down beside the net.
The Aeros bounced back once again to even the score at three apiece with a tally off the stick of Fontaine at 12:27. After a face-off to the left of Leggio, Foucault immediately gained possession of the puck below the Rochester goal line and centered it to Fontaine, who beat the Amerks’ netminder with a backhander high to the blocker side.
A shorthanded goal off the stick of Broda just over five minutes into the third period allowed Houston to grab its first lead of the night, 4-3. On what was his second tally of the game, the 22-year-old was sprung on a partial breakaway after a clear by the Aeros’ defense and scored the eventual game-winning goal.
Rochester heads north of border on Saturday as they take on the Hamilton Bulldogs for the second time in as many weeks at Copps Coliseum. Faceoff between the North Division rivals is slated for 7 p.m. start and can be heard live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk. The Amerks are coming off their first win of the season against the Bulldogs last Saturday after Hamilton bested Rochester through the first three get-togethers of the season.