(Syracuse, NY) – The Rochester Americans (20-27-0-2) fell behind early in Saturday’s contest to the North Division-leading Syracuse Crunch (24-16-4-5) and were never able to recover as the Amerks came up on the losing end of a 5-2 decision at the War Memorial Arena.
Cole Schneider paced the Amerks with his team-leading 13th multi-point effort of the season with two assists while Nick Baptiste and Brady Austin each scored in the defeat. Goaltender Linus Ullmark made 25 saves in his ninth straight start but suffered the loss. The second-year netminder shows a record of 18-18-2 on the campaign and boasts a 10-8-1 record over his last 19 appearances.
In his first game with the Crunch since Dec. 31, Adam Erne led Syracuse with a pair of goals and an assist while Matt Taormina (0+2), Yanni Gourde (1+1) and former Amerk Cory Conacher (1+1) each collected multi-point efforts. Kristers Gudlevskis picked up his eighth win of the season after stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced.
As the Amerks were down 3-2 less than four minutes into the final period, Hudson Fasching tracked down a loose puck in the Crunch zone on a mini-breakaway from in-between the face-off dots. The rookie forward was stonewalled by the right pad of Gudlevskis and the Crunch raced forward in transition when Conacher buried his 10th goal of the season just past the glove of Ullmark.
The Crunch sealed their sixth victory over the Amerks this season with a late empty-net goal while on the power-play with Ullmark pulled in favor of the extra attacker.
Rochester fell behind by a pair of makers before the game was four minutes old but cut into the lead when Baptiste scored his 19th goal of the season at the 4:38 mark of the first period. Schneider and Erik Burgdoerfer each collected an assist on the tally, which ties Baptiste with Justin Bailey, who’s currently on recall with the Buffalo Sabres, for most on the team this season.
The cross-town foes combined for 22 penalty minutes during the first period, which ended with the Amerks trailing 2-1 going into the intermission break.
Syracuse regained its two-goal cushion with Erne netting his first of the contest at the 3:43 mark of the second stanza. However, Rochester carved into the deficit again when Austin joined the rush while the teams were four-on-four and sniped the upper left corner for his first goal since Dec. 30 of last season to make it a 3-2 game. Schneider picked up his second helper of the night to give him 17 points (8+9) over his last 20 games dating back to Dec. 26. Cal O’Reilly also earned an assist on the play, and for Rochester’s captain, it marked his 400th pro assist and his 13th point (3+10) over his last 14 contests.
Unfortunately, it would be as close as the Amerks could get before the Crunch added a pair of third-period tallies to come away with the 5-2 victory.
The Amerks power-play unit was unsuccessful on seven man-advantage opportunities they held throughout the night while the Crunch were able to convert three times with the extra skater.
The Amerks kickoff their lone three-in-three of the month on Friday, Feb. 17 when they welcome the Bridgeport Sound Tigers back to The Blue Cross Arena for the first time this season. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the third of four meetings on the season between the two teams and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester. The game will also be televised on MSG.
RCH: Baptiste (19), Austin (1)
SYR: Gourde (17), Darcy (2), Erne (9, 10), Conacher (10)
RCH: Ullmark – 25/29 (L)
SYR: Gudlevskis – 25/27 (W)
RCH: PP (0/7) / PK (4/7)
SYR: PP (3/7) / PK (7/7)