(Toronto, ON) – On a night full of milestones, the Rochester Americans (16-19-0-1) avenged last night’s 5-0 setback to the Toronto Marlies (15-16-2-1) by reversing the script in a 4-3 overtime win on Sunday afternoon to split the two-game set with the Marlies thanks to Mac Bennett’s game-winning goal 1:42 into the extra session. With today’s win at Ricoh Coliseum, the Amerks have moved into a fourth-place tie in the North Division and have won six of their last nine games.
Cal O’Reilly recorded a pair of assists to lead Rochester to its fourth win in the last five games. With O’Reilly’s first assist of the contest, it marked his 500th career professional point. Casey Nelson added his third goal of the slate while Justin Vaive scored his first as an Amerk for what was also his 100th pro point. Newcomer Bobby Shea also skated in his 200th professional game this afternoon in Toronto. In just his sixth start of the season, Amerks goaltender John Muse made 38 saves to earn the win and now shows a record of 2-3-0 on the campaign.
After being held off the scoresheet in last night’s game, Kasperi Kapanen scored a pair of markers for the Marlies while Colin Smith closed out the scoring. After being reassigned early Sunday, Antoine Bibeau stopped 29 of the 33 shots he faced.
Less than two minutes into overtime, Nick Baptiste bolted down the ice in a one-on-one battle against Toronto’s Brendan Leipsic, firing the puck off only to be deflected by the right pad of Bibeau. Bennett, who joined the rush late, picked up the rebound in front of the cage, shifted to his right and slipped the puck into the back of the net for his second goal of the campaign and first game-winning marker since the Dec. 17, 2014 as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Baptiste opened the scoring with his team-leading 17th goal of the season less than five minutes into the contest as he chipped the puck past the glove of Bibeau. O’Reilly and Evan Rodrigues got credited with the assists at the 4:49 mark of the opening stanza.
The Marlies were quick to respond, however, answering with a pair of tallies as Kapanen added his 15th of the season at 8:02 before Smith cleaned up a failed wraparound attempt by Dmytro Timashov over four minutes later to give Toronto the 2-1 lead.
Down by a goal to begin the second stanza, it did not take long for the Amerks to find the equalizer as Nelson tied the game with a power-play goal from the point. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda and Tim Kennedy drew the assists on Nelson’s third of the season just 1:50 into the period.
Later in the period, Kyle Bonis tied up his man after a face-off to the right of the Toronto goalie. After locating the sitting puck, Vaive ripped his first goal of the season into the net to regain the lead for Rochester with 10:37 left in the frame.
The Amerks took the 3-2 lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes of play, but the Marlies evened the score with less than four minutes left in the regulation thanks to Kapanen’s second of the game. The Toronto forward dug out a loose puck following a goal-mouth scrambled and snapped a shot through a maze of bodies to knot the contest at three and send the game to overtime.
It would be as close the Marlies would get, though, as Bennett sealed the 4-3 win for Rochester just 1:42 into the extra frame.
The Amerks return to action on Wednesday, Jan. 11 from The Blue Cross Arena when they welcome back the Hartford Wolf Pack. Opening face-off is set for 7:05 p.m. and the game will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Baptiste (17), Nelson (3), Vaive (1), Bennett (2, GWG)
TOR: Kapanen (15, 16), Smith (6)
RCH: Muse – 38/41 (W)
TOR: Bibeau – 29/33 (OTL)
RCH: PP (1/4) / PK (1/2)
TOR: PP (1/2) / PK (3/4)