The Rochester Americans (1-1-0-0) traveled to the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse on Saturday night and fell 4-1 to the Syracuse Crunch (1-0-0-0) to begin the front end of a home-and-home series.
The Amerks were blanked on the scoresheet with the exception of Justin Bailey’s third-period goal while goaltender Linus Ullmark kept the Crunch off the scoreboard in the first and third periods. The netminder allowed four goals in the middle frame on 18 shots he faced, but stopped the other 26 attempts in what was his second straight start of the weekend.
Adam Erne (1+1) and Gabriel Dumont (0+2) each tallied a pair of points to lead the Crunch. Joel Vermin, Michael Bournival and Tye McGinn each found the back of the net for their first goals of the season. Kristers Gudlevskis finished with 20 saves on 21 shots against.
After the teams traded chances during the opening 20 minutes of play, the two North Division foes went into the locker rooms scoreless.
Things seemed to start out well for the visiting Amerks as they drew an interference penalty 72 seconds into the middle frame, but things would not last. The power-play lasted less than a minute after the Amerks were sent to the penalty box for a slashing violation.
Following the four-on-four session, the Crunch had a brief power-play and did not waste much as Erne poked in a loose puck behind Ullmark for a 1-0 lead at the 3:55 mark of the period.
Syracuse kept the pressure on Ullmark, forcing him to make timely saves, but the Crunch capitalized on a miscue when the Amerks tried to exit the defensive on zone.
After it appeared the Amerks were going to clear the puck out of harm’s way, Syracuse forced a turnover in the neutral zone. The Crunch had a 3-on-2 odd-man rush as they entered the zone. Defensemen Luke Witkoski fired a shot that missed wide, but Erne found the puck as he went around the cage before sliding it through some traffic to McGinn, who banged it home 6:59 into the period.
The Crunch continued to carry the play throughout the middle stanza, tallying a pair of goals 22 seconds apart with less than three minutes to play. The Amerks were outshot 18-4 during the second period and trailed 4-0 after 40 minutes of play.
The Amerks were able to eliminate Gudlevskis’ bid for a potential shutout 6:55 into the final period, but unfortunately it was the only marker he would allow.
After being trapped in the Rochester defensive zone for much of his shift, Bailey received a pass from Taylor Fedun near the top of the blueline. As Bailey raced towards the Crunch cage in what turned into a 2-on-1 fast break for the Amerks, the Williamsville native ripped a shot beneath the crossbar.
Fedun got credit with the lone helper, giving him an assist in each of the first two games of the season.
The Amerks and Crunch exchanged chances over the course of the final minutes of regulation, but Rochester could not find any additional offense.
Ullmark took the loss for the Amerks despite making 40 of 44 saves to even his record at (1-1-0) while Gudlevskis stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced to earn his first win of the season for the Crunch.
The North Division foes square off for the second straight night on Sunday, Oct. 16 as the home-and-home series shifts back to Rochester for a 5:05 p.m. face-off at The Blue Cross Arena. All the action will be carried live on the Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
SYR: Erne, McGinn, Vermin, Bournival
RCH: Ullmark – 40/44 (L)
SYR: Gudlevskis – 20/21 (W)
RCH: PP (0/4) / PK (3/4)
SYR: PP (1/4) / PK (4/4)