|DAN LAMBERT POST-GAME|
|JUSTIN BAILEY POST-GAME|
|TIM KENNEDY POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) – The Rochester Americans (12-17-0-1) scored five unanswered goals, including three in the first period, and rode 25 saves from goaltender Linus Ullmark to cruise to a convincing 5-1 win over the first-place Syracuse Crunch (16-9-0-3) Monday at The Blue Cross Arena. The win was Rochester’s first in six meetings this season against the Crunch, who entered the contest having won five straight over the Amerks.
Justin Bailey (2+0) led the Amerks as he lit the lamp twice for his 11th and 12th markers of the season and has four goals in his last three outings. Cole Schneider collected his 11th of the slate and added a helper to go along with the goal. Cal O’Reilly and Tim Kennedy both recorded (0+2) two-point performances on the evening while Ullmark earned his 11th victory of the season, tying him for third in the AHL.
Rookie defensemen Dominik Masin scored his first professional goal in the defeat with assists from Matthew Peca and Matt Taormina during the opening 20 minutes of play. Adam Wilcox stopped 21 of the 26 shots in his fourth start against the Amerks this season.
Rochester fell behind early less than six minutes into the tilt on a strange play that saw Masin shoot the puck that ricocheted off an Amerk player’s glove and over the outstretched glove of Ullmark. The Amerks, however, responded less than seven minutes later with three unanswered first-period goals.
“That was huge for us,” said head coach Dan Lambert, talking about the response from the Amerks. “It was important that we answered right away because we haven’t had very much luck against Syracuse this season. The Crunch are a momentum team, so they could have very easily controlled the game had they had a lead after the first.”
Bailey evened the game at 1-1 at the 8:51 mark of the first period, when he scooped up a loose rebound in front of Wilcox and deposited it into the cage for a power-play goal. Less than 30 seconds later, Rochester took the lead for good when Evan Rodrigues found some puck luck as he fired a shot that hit off the post then rolled down the back of Wilcox for his fifth of the campaign.
The home squad fed off the energy wave when Dan Catenacci pounced on a rebound attempt in front of Wilcox, much like Bailey did earlier in the period, and slammed home his fourth of the season. O’Reilly and Paul Geiger each notched an assist on the goal.
The Amerks carried the 3-1 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes of play and the two clubs exchanged chances, but both goalies stood tall making key saves to hold the score.
“We got behind but I thought we stayed the course and played the right way,” said Kennedy. “As a team, we had some lucky bounces and sometimes against a good team like Syracuse you will take whatever you can get. The win was big, though.”
Ahead by a pair of goals, Bailey scored his second of the night on a breakaway feed from Kennedy at the 10:57 mark of the final period before Kennedy setup Schneider with 4:08 left in regulation that secured the Amerks their fourth victory in the last five games on home ice.
“I felt good tonight, but as a team, we played a full 60 minutes tonight, “said Bailey. “We did the things we needed to do to earn the win. The team did a great job sticking to our game plan even after they scored the first goal and we responded the right way and hopefully we can continue to carry the momentum we are on as of late.”
The Amerks close out the remainder of the week at home as they welcome the Lehigh Valley Phantoms back to Rochester for a two-game set on Wednesday and Friday. Both of the contests will begin at 7:05 from The Blue Cross Arena and all of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Bailey (11, 12), Rodrigues (5), Catenacci (4), Schneider (11)
SYR: Masin (1)
RCH: Ullmark – 25/26 (W)
SYR: Wilcox – 21/26 (L)
RCH: PP (1/5) / PK (5/5)
SYR: PP (0/5) / PK (4/5)