(Utica, NY) – The Rochester Americans (8-10-0-1) scored twice during the second period and held off a heavy third period push by the Utica Comets (7-11-1-0) to snap their losing streak at six games after defeating their North Division rivals, 2-1, at the Utica Memorial Auditorium Wednesday night.
Cal O’Reilly and Cole Schneider, Rochester’s top two point-getters on the season, led the Amerks on the scoresheet with each picking up a goal and an assist on the night. The multi-point outing was O’Reilly’s sixth while Schneider collected his team-leading seventh of the campaign. Making his 15th start, goaltender Linus Ullmark stopped 34 of 35 shots to end his five-game winless streak and even his record to 7-7-1 on the season. Rookie defenseman Paul Geiger also added an assist.
Evan McEneny scored his first career goal less than five minutes into the final period for the hometown Comets while rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko saw his career-best four-game winning streak come to an end in the defeat.
With a 2-0 lead entering the final frame, the Comets gave their best effort to even the game, but they were only able to cut into the deficit by a goal despite outshooting the Amerks 18-4 over the last 20 minutes of play.
After taking their fifth penalty of the contest, the Amerks looked as if they would come out unscathed following a spectacular save from Ullmark, who sprawled to get his right pad on a Darren Archibald attempt. McEneny, however, pounced on the rebound near the goal line, circled around the right face-off circle and sent a wrist shot past the glove of Ullmark with 13:52 left in the stanza.
The Amerks held off the Comets for the rest of night, including a late 6-on-4 situation when Utica pulled Demko for the extra attacker.
During the opening stanza, both teams were whistled for three penalties each, but neither side could generate any scoring as they went into the locker rooms scoreless after 20 minutes of play.
Rochester opened the scoring on the night just 4:02 into the second period when Schneider tallied his eighth goal of the season. O’Reilly stripped a Comet of the puck just inside the Utica blueline and took a few strides towards the cage before slipping the puck to Schneider, who deposited it behind Demko for a 1-0 lead.
The teams traded scoring chances over the period, but the goaltenders kept the game 1-0 until O’Reilly pushed the Amerks lead to a pair with 27 seconds left in the frame.
On the receiving end of bank pass to the right of Demko, O’Reilly took the pass and appeared to skate around the Utica net. The former Comet quickly slammed on the brakes before spinning and slipping the puck past the rookie netminder for his fourth of the season. Schneider and Geiger each registered an assist on the tally.
McEneny’s first pro tally of the season brought the Comets within a goal, but 17 more saves from Ullmark over the final 13:52 of regulation would preserve the 2-1 win for Rochester.
Prior to embarking on a season-long four-game road trip, the Amerks host the Toronto Marlies Friday night on Star Wars Night at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Schneider (8), O’Reilly (4)
UTI: McEneny (1)
RCH: Ullmark – 34/35 (W)
UTI: Demko – 19/21 (L)
RCH: PP (0/4) / PK (6/7)
UTI: PP (1/7) / PK (4/4)