AMERKS FORCE OVERTIME, FALL TO CRUNCH IN SHOOTOUT
Kulich scores team-leading 19th goal, Subban makes 23 saves in 3-2 shootout loss to SyracuseMar 21, 2023
The Rochester Americans (28-25-4-3) scored late in the third period to force Tuesday’s game beyond regulation but ultimately fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Syracuse Crunch (30-22-5-3) at The Blue Cross Arena.
Despite the shootout loss, Rochester’s second in the last three games, the club has earned a point in nine of its last 14 games, going 5-5-2-2 over that span. The Amerks have claimed five of the first 10 meetings against the Crunch this season and have at least one point in four of the five get-togethers in the Flower City.
Forward Michael Mersch found the back of the net for the second straight game for his 15th goal of the season from Filip Cederqvist and Ethan Prow. Rookie Jiri Kulich tallied his team-leading 19th goal of the year to open the scoring with Brett Murray logging the lone assist.
Goaltender Malcolm Subban (15-13-3) stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced in his 31st appearance of the season.
Simon Ryfors and Jack Finley notched their 21st and eighth tallies of the campaign, respectively, for Syracuse, which has won three of its last five games. Netminder Max Lagace (14-11-6) made 29 saves, which included six in overtime and two in the shootout.
With less than five minutes remaining in regulation and trailing 2-1, the Amerks kept the puck inside the Crunch zone. After scooping up a pass at the right point, Prow slid it to his left for Cederqvist, who was covering for Lawrence Pilut. The rookie forward patiently waited before firing a shot towards the net for Mersch to redirect behind Lagace.
Mersch’s 15th goal of the season at the 15:52 mark pushed the game into the overtime period as the score was tied at two.
In the extra frame, Rochester had several grade-A chances, and despite outshooting Syracuse 6-0, a shootout was required to determine a winner.
While the Amerks elected to shoot first in the skills competition, Mason Jobst converted in-between misses from Kulich and Lukas Rousek.
Gage Goncalves and Lucas Edmond both beat Subban to give the Crunch the 3-2 victory.
Just beyond the halfway point of a scoreless first period, Syracuse grabbed the puck in the neutral zone before former Amerk Ryan Jones and Jack Thompson exchanged passes.
Thompson then left the puck for Ryfors, who prior to reaching Subban, slipped a backhanded shot under the pad for his 21st of the campaign with just under seven minutes in the first period.
To begin the second period, after Amerks were unable to capitalize on their first power-play of the frame, they drew another infraction five minutes later.
On the man-advantage, the Crunch thought they cleared the puck out of their own zone, however, Murray forced an ill-advised pass back inside the blueline. As Murray looked up, he centered a feed for Kulich, who crashed towards the crease in-front for Lagace for the tap-in.
The game remained knotted at one before the clubs traded third-period goals to force the extra frame.
During the shootout, the Crunch doubled up the Amerks to earn the 3-2 win.
The Amerks continue their push to the playoffs on Friday, March 24 when they open a three-game weekend starting with the Hershey Bears at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time between the AHL’s two oldest teams is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.
By earning an assist tonight, Brett Murray has 12 points (3+9) in his last 16 games while Michael Mersch shows 30 points (14+16) over his last 35 contests dating back to Dec. 17 ... Jiri Kulich scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season midway through the second period ... Including tonight, he’s recorded 20 points (12+8) in his last 23 games dating back to Jan. 25.
SYR: S. Ryfors (21), J. Finley (8)
ROC: J. Kulich (19), M. Mersch (15)
SYR: M. Lagace – 27/29 (W)
ROC: M. Subban – 23/25 (OTL)
SYR: PP (0/2) | PK (2/3)
ROC: PP (1/3) | PK (2/2)
1. SYR - S. Ryfors
2. ROC - M. Mersch
3. SYR - M. Lagace