|CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME|
|COLIN BLACKWELL POST-GAME|
|NATHAN PAETSCH POST-GAME|
The playoff-bound Rochester Americans (34-21-11-6) saw their five-game point streak come to an end as they fell 5-1 to the Belleville Senators (27-40-2-3) Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The matchup between the two North Division rivals was the first of Rochester’s final four-game homestand of the campaign.
With tonight’s loss, plus a shootout win for the Utica Comes over the first-place Toronto Marlies, the Amerks are now tied for the third spot in the North Division standings with only four games remaining in the regular season.
Colin Blackwell extended his career-long point-streak to six games as he picked up his 12th point and eighth goal dating back to Mar. 24 for Rochester, which has earned at least one point in five of its last six games. Rookie goaltender Jonas Johansson saw his personal-best three-game winning streak end as he was tagged with the loss before being replaced by Jason Kasdorf to begin the third period.
Nick Paul (2+0), Jordan Murray, (0+2) and Christian Jaros (0+2) all turned in a multi-point performance for Belleville, which snapped a three-game skid. Goaltender Marcus Hogeberg, who recorded a shutout in his first appearance of the season against the Amerks back on Feb. 7, stopped 32 of 33 shots he faced to record the victory.
Things started out well for Rochester as Blackwell opened the scoring with 1:29 left in the opening period, but Belleville countered back with four second-period goals.
“It was a weird game,” said Nathan Paetsch, who has three helpers in his last three games and five over his last nine. “I thought we had a good first period, but in the second for some reason we came out a little flat. We made some costly errors and they capitalized on them. After that we were chasing the game from that point on.”
Blackwell’s power-play marker was assisted by Danny O’Regan, who has 11 points (5+6) in 14 games, and Paetsch.
“It was disappointing,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “I think we took some not so good penalties and they capitalized on it. I think, at times, we were slow and methodical and did not get our shots off quick. They were able to block too many of our shots and they scored some timely goals.”
Belleville began the second period shorthanded for 1:17, but they tallied three goals in the first 4:11 to turn a one-goal deficit into a 3-1 lead, including a shorthanded tally from newcomer Parker Kelly just 46 seconds into the middle frame.
Kelly’s shorthanded marker was his first American Hockey League goal, while Boston Leier and Paul tacked on their third and 12th goals of the season, respectively.
The Senators upped their lead to 4-1 courtesy of Rodewald with 35 seconds left in the period to take a three-goal cushion into break and ended Johansson’s night after 40 minutes.
Kasdorf took over for the first-year netminder to begin the final frame, his first action of the season for Rochester since being recalled at the end of March.
The two clubs exchanged chances during the third period but the Amerks were whistled for four penalties. Belleville was unable to capitalize on the first three chances, but on the final infraction of the night, Paul capped off the scoring as he beat Kasdorf with 30 seconds left in the contest.
“I think the story of the game was they outworked us,” said Blackwell, who shows 18 points (8+10) over his last 11 games. “Stuff like that is unacceptable. We have to learn from it and move on. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first two minutes of the game or the last two minutes of a game, we have to win our shift.”
With the 5-1 victory, Belleville has a 4-2-1-0 record through the first seven games of the eight-game season series.
The Amerks remain at home on Saturday, Apr. 7 when they take on the league-leading Toronto Marlies on Pink the Rink Night at The Blue Cross Arena. For the fourth straight year, the Amerks will wear special-edition pink jerseys and matching socks in support of breast cancer awareness. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Gilda’s Club Rochester. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Blackwell (15)
BEL: Kelly (1), Leier (3), Paul (12, 13), Rodewald (13)
RCH: Johansson – 15/19 (L) | Kasdorf – 9/10
BEL: Hogberg – 32/33 (W)
RCH: PP (1/5) | PK (4/6)
BEL: PP (2/6) | PK (4/5)