|DAN LAMBERT POST-GAME|
|ALEXANDER NYLANDER POST-GAME|
|DEREK GRANT POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) – For the sixth time this season, the Rochester Americans (24-32-0-2) defeated the North Division rival Toronto Marlies (30-25-4-1) with a 4-3 victory Wednesday night in the third of a four-game homestand at The Blue Cross Arena.
Rookie forward Alexander Nylander sealed the second straight win for the Amerks as he potted his eighth goal of the campaign with just 1:20 left in contest after assisting on the game-tying goal earlier in the third period. Cole Schneider recorded a pair of assists for his team-leading 14th multi-point of the year while Derek Grant scored his first goal as an Amerk and first since Mar. 26 of last season as a member of the Stockton Heat. Mac Bennett opened the scoring on the night with his third of the season while Jean Dupuy netted his second of the slate. Goaltender Linus Ullmark improved his record to 22-21-1 after making 18 saves on the night in his 16th start over the last 18 games for Rochester.
The Marlies were led by third-year veteran Kerby Rychel as he scored his 13th goal of the season to go along with an assist while Mike Sislo and Kasperi Kapanen rounded out the scoring. Antoine Bibeau got the nod in the cage for Toronto and stopped 28 of 32 but took the loss.
After the Marlies took their only lead of the contest just 22 seconds into the final period, the Amerks responded with a pair of goals for the 4-3 victory. With the win, Rochester improves to 6-1-0-1 against Toronto this season and closed out home portion of the season series with a near-perfect 4-0-0-1 record with just two games remaining between the two teams.
With the Amerks trailing 3-2, Grant received an outlet pass as he slipped behind a Marlies defender and was unable to fire a shot off but drew a delayed penalty. Nylander, however, joined the play and tucked behind the net before centering a pass towards the cage that Grant converted for his first of the season to knot the game with 14:34 left to play.
“It’s been a while,” said Grant when talking about his goal. “I switched sticks prior to the third period, so maybe that is something I should have done back in October. Scoring the goal was good but it is even better to get the win.”
As the contest was nearing its conclusion, it appeared the two clubs were heading for overtime, but Nylander ended any thought of an extra session as he picked up a loose puck at the Marlies blueline. As Schneider tied up the Toronto defenseman, he poked the puck towards open space, allowing the Amerks rookie to pick it up in stride and fire home the game-winning tally with 80 seconds showing on the third-period clock.
“I came onto the ice from the bench,” said Nylander. “I saw ‘Schneids’ tie up his guy and Cole gave me a pass. I went one-on-one, so I just shot the puck and hoped it went in and it did. I feel as a line with Schneider and Grant we got better and better throughout the game. We have been working hard lately and it paid off tonight.”
The Amerks opened the scoring on the night when Matt Lane, who was recalled earlier in the day from the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL, won a face-off and kicked the puck to Bennett. The defenseman-turned-forward wristed the puck towards the cage and it bounced off the arm of Bibeau just 1:45 into the contest. The goal was Bennett’s third of the season and Lane’s second AHL assist.
“Mac stepped up tonight, not only with his goal, but playing forward,” said Amerks head coach Dan Lambert. “It is something he has done for us this season and he always gives great effort each game he plays and certainly did tonight as well.”
Rochester carried the 1-0 lead into the intermission break and held a 10-6 shot advantage but the Marlies knotted the game 5:15 into the middle stanza. The Amerks, however, responded to grab a 2-1 lead with Dupuy roofing a shot under the crossbar following a defensive zone miscue by the Marlies at the 13:15 mark. Tim Kennedy and Hudson Fasching each recorded an assist on the tally.
For the second time of the night, Toronto answered to tie the game less than a minute later. The two teams entered the break knotted at two goals apiece with the Amerks outshooting the Marlies 25-13 through two periods.
Kapanen opened the third period with his 17th goal of the season before the Grant and Nylander goals.
The Amerks close out their four-game homestand on Friday, March 10 when they welcome back the St. John’s IceCaps for the final time this season. The Amerks will be hosting their annual Irish Night as they will be sporting Irish-themed jerseys for the 7:05 p.m. faceoff. All of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Bennett (3), Dupuy (2), Grant (1), Nylander (8)
TOR: Rychel (13), Sislo (7), Kapanen (17)
RCH: Ullmark – 18/21 (W)
TOR: Bibeau – 28/32 (L)
RCH: PP (0/2) / PK (2/2)
TOR: PP (0/2) / PK (2/2)