STRONG FIRST PERIOD PROPELS AMERKS TO 4-1 WIN OVER MONSTERS
The Rochester Americans used a strong first period and scored three times in the first 15:19 to cruise to a 4-1 road win over the North Division rival Lake Erie Monsters Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena. With the victory, the Amerks have won three straight and four of their last five games to move into a second-place tie in the American Hockey League’s North Division with an 18-15-3-3 record.
Luke Adam scored twice, including once on the power-play, to move into fifth in the AHL in goals, while forwards Jamie Tardif (1+1) and Dan Catenacci (0+2) each notched two points in the win. Kevin Porter, playing in his first game back since Dec. 14, provided the eventual game-winner and goaltender Nathan Lieuwen made 30 saves on 31 shots to pick up his third straight win and improve to 8-6-1 on the season.
Brad Malone, who also just returned from a recent NHL stint with the Colorado Avalanche, potted the lone goal for the hometown Monsters, while Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio combined for 29 saves in the loss.
The Amerks opened the scoring for the second straight game with Adam spotting a Brayden Irwin rebound and flipping it past Pickard for a 1-0 Rochester lead at 10:45 of the first period. Irwin maneuvered his way into the Lake Erie zone and fired a shot on goal that Pickard blocked away, but the rebound fell to the left of the crease, where Adam soon gained control and lifted a back-hander over the sprawled netminder for his first of two on the night.
Rochester quickly made it a 3-0 game under four minutes later, with the line of Tardif, Porter and Catenacci scoring twice in 37 seconds to ultimately put the game out of reach. First, Porter, who was reassigned to the Amerks on Wednesday, redirected Tardif’s centering pass under the crossbar, giving the veteran forward four points over his last five American Hockey League games.
Then, just moments later, Catenacci took a pass in stride from Chad Ruhwedel and raced up the left wing boards with several Lake Erie defenders in pursuit. After gaining the Monsters zone, Catenacci drove to the net before leaving the puck for a trailing Tardif, whose wrist shot from between the hash marks caught Pickard by surprise and put Rochester on top 3-0. The goal gives Tardif, who was also playing in his 500th professional game tonight, five points (3+2) through his first three games back in the lineup, including a goal in each contest. It also spelled the end of Pickard after allowing three goals on 15 shots through 15:19 of work between the pipes.
Malone brought the Monsters within a pair late in the middle frame when he deflected Karl Stollery’s bid for his fifth of the season. With Lake Erie on the man-advantage, Malone somehow was able to get his stick on the shot that appeared to be heading wide to make it 3-1 with just 13 seconds remaining in the period.
The Amerks answered back with a power-play goal of their own with Adam’s second of the game and team-leading 17th of the season at 14:34 of the third period. After using a nifty give-and-go with Brayden McNabb to elude a defender at the blueline, Johan Larsson sent a cross-ice feed to Adam, who converted a one-timer from the right circle to give Rochester the 4-1 win.
The Amerks close out their six-game road swing on Saturday, Jan. 25 when they face-off against the intrastate rival Binghamton Senators at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the fifth of eight meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.