(Springfield, MA) - The Rochester Americans (7-6-0-0) scored three times in a span of 4:03 in the first period and survived a late push from the Springfield Thunderbirds (7-5-1-0) as the Amerks held on for a 3-2 win in the first-ever meeting between the two teams Sunday at the MassMutual Center.
Nick Baptiste, who was one of three reassigned earlier in the day from the parent Buffalo Sabres, led the way offensively with a pair of goals, including the game-winner, while Mac Bennett also scored his first as an Amerk. Cal O’Reilly contributed two assists and Linus Ullmark posted a 25-save effort to improve to 6-3-0 on the season.
Stephen MacAulay and Brent Regner provided the scoring for the Thunderbirds while Mike McKenna stopped 19 shots in the losing effort.
The Amerks closed out their second three-in-three weekend in a row as they faced the Thunderbirds, who swooped in early with a shot, rebound and second shot from MacAulay as Springfield took the lead just over 12 minutes into the first period.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Bennett scored his first goal of the season with the help of Eric Cornel and Taylor Fedun. Three minutes later, Cole Schneider, who also returned from the Sabres this morning, sent the puck to Baptiste, who fired a shot past McKenna to put the Amerks up 2-1.
Less than one minute later, O’Reilly, who ranks second in the league in assists, sent the puck to Baptiste and he would find the net again to give Rochester a 3-1 advantage with two minutes left in the opening frame.
The Amerks were able to keep their hosts at bay for all of the second period despite being outshot 12-9 until Regner’s first of the season brought the Thunderbirds to within a goal early in the third period. It was as close as Springfield would get, though, as Ullmark tacked on five more saves over the final 13:53 of regulation to preserve the 3-2 victory.
The Amerks conclude a busy stretch of four games in six nights on Wednesday, Nov. 16 as they host the intrastate rival Albany Devils in the first of eight meetings at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Bennett (1), Baptiste (4, 5)
SPR: MacAulay (2), Regner (1)
RCH: Ullmark – 25/27 (W)
SPR: McKenna – 19/22 (L)
RCH: PP (0/5) / PK (3/3)
SPR: PP (0/3) / PK (5/5)