|DAN LAMBERT POST-GAME|
|HUDSON FASCHING POST-GAME|
|LINUS ULLMARK POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) – The Rochester Americans (18-23-0-2) fell in a seven-round shootout against the Toronto Marlies (18-20-2-1) by the score of 2-1 Wednesday at The Blue Cross Arena despite a stellar 39-save effort from AHL All-Star goaltender Linus Ullmark.
For the second consecutive game, rookie forward Hudson Fasching lit the lamp for the Amerks while Ullmark suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in 15 games. The Swedish netminder boasts an 8-4-0-1 record in his last 13 starts and falls to 16-14-2 on the campaign.
The Marlies got on the board thanks to fourth-year forward Seth Griffith as he bagged his first of the season during the opening period. Garret Sparks made 19 saves through 65 minutes to improve his record to 5-2-0.
The Amerks began the second period trailing 1-0, but thanks in part to some timely saves by Ullmark, the deficit could have been a lot worse than the score indicted as Rochester was outshot 15-5.
“Tonight was not good,” said Amerks head coach Dan Lambert. “Linus is the only reason we got a point in the game. After the first period, we were in a situation where we were down a goal but had an opportunity to still win a hockey game after 40 minutes.”
Rochester tied the game less than four minutes into the middle period when Fasching scored his second goal in as many games just 3:35 into the second. The rookie received a pass on the Marlies blueline from Brady Austin and split the Toronto defensemen while protecting the puck. As he approached Sparks, he faked to his forehand and then slipped the puck past the right pad of the netminder. Austin was credited with the lone assist, his second in the past three games.
Following the tally by Fasching, the two clubs exchanged chances, but Ullmark and Sparks kept the score tied at 1 after 60 minutes of play to force overtime.
The extra session was mostly played at 4-on-4 after the Amerks took a penalty 53 seconds into overtime. The two clubs fired a combined seven shots during the bonus frame, but neither team could find the back of the net, sending the game to the shootout.
The Amerks elected to shoot first in the shootout but neither team scored until the third round when Daniel Muzito-Bagenda scored for Rochester. Kerby Rychel evened the skills competition at one as he followed Muzito-Bagenda for the Marlies. After rounds five and six proved scoreless, Colin Smith won the contest in the bottom of the seventh round for Toronto. His shot beat Ullmark with a fortuitous bounce that caromed off the cross-bar before glancing the back-side of the netminder.
The seven-round shootout was the longest for the Amerks since the team went 15 rounds with the Lake Erie (Cleveland) Monsters back on Feb. 25, 2012.
Rochester’s penalty kill unit held the Marlies power-play off the scoreboard on all three chances on the night. In the last seven games, the Amerks PK has gone 21-for-24 (87.5%), including their last 11.
“Our PK unit has done a good job as of late,” Lambert said. “They are paying attention and it also helps having a guy like Linus in the net as the penalty kill often starts with your goaltender.”
“The guys are pressuring the puck carriers while we are shorthanded,” said Ullmark. “The guys are improving and they know when to pressure, when to block shots, and it makes my job easier when they do those types of things.”
The Amerks return to action on Friday, Jan. 27 when they host the intrastate rival Albany Devils in the front-end of a home-and-home series on Hometown Heroes Night at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the third of eight meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Fasching (3)
TOR: Griffith (1)
RCH: Ullmark – 39/40 (SOL)
TOR: Sparks – 19/20 (W)
RCH: PP (0/3) / PK (3/3)
TOR: PP (0/3) / PK (3/3)