Mersch and Malone score in return, Subban makes 22 saves in season debut

Nov 18, 2022

A late goal in the third period by the Utica Comets (4-5-1-1) proved to be the difference as the Rochester Americans (7-5-1-1) were on the wrong side of a 3-2 score Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.


                                                    GAME SUMMARY   PHOTO GALLERY    POST-GAME REPORT


The game served as the first leg of home-and-home series between the two clubs ahead of Saturday’s rematch in Utica. The regulation loss was Rochester’s first on home ice this season after starting the campaign 5-0-1-0. Overall, the Amerks boast a 7-5-1-1 record through 14 games and have points in six of their last eight.


Forwards Michael Mersch and Sean Malone both returned to the lineup after missing a combined 16 games due to their respective injuries. The duo each scored for Rochester while Mersch (1+1) along with Brett Murray (0+2) both added a multi-point effort. Ethan Prow rounded out the scoring as he recorded an assist on Mersch’s first-period goal.


Goaltender Malcolm Subban (0-1-0) made 22 saves in his Amerks debut but was tagged with the defeat. The appearance was his first in the AHL since Dec. 1, 2021.



Third-year pro Matej Pekar skated in his first game of the campaign after he missed the first 13 games of the season due to an injury.


Utica defenseman Reilly Walsh produced a two-assist night, including the lone helper on Tyce Thompson’s eventual game-winning goal, while Nikita Okhotiuk and Jack Dugan scored their first and second goals of the season, respectively. Netminder Nico Daws (2-3-0) stopped 24 of 26 shots he faced to earn the win. Both of Daws’ victories have come against the Amerks.


As the final period of regulation was winding down and the score tied 2-2, it appeared the Amerks were headed to their third straight game beyond regulation.



The Comets, who entered the contest as the only team in the AHL without a win on the road this season, altered those plans as Walsh stepped in-front of a clearing attempt inside the Rochester blueline.


The defenseman fired a shot from the right point and as the rebound fell to the left of Subban, Thompson fired it past the netminder to give Utica a 3-2 lead with 2:08 to play.


For the remainder of the contest, Rochester pulled Subban for the extra skater as they hoped to find the equalizer, but Daws and company hung on to hand the Amerks a 3-2 loss.



While Rochester successfully cleared off the game’s first penalty and Utica taking a 1-0 lead four minutes following the infraction in the opening period, the Amerks quickly responded 13 seconds later.


On the ensuing shift after Dugan’s tally, Mersch rimmed the puck around the boards to the opposite point for Prow. The blueliner skated down the boards and centered a pass to the goalmouth for Murray, but the puck glanced off his stick and fell at Mersch’s feet. The Amerks’ captain was crashing the rebound and steered it past Daws as he was falling to his knees.


The secondary assist from Prow gives him seven points (2+5) over his last eight games dating back to Oct. 29, putting him inside the league’s top 20 scoring defensemen.




After the teams went into the intermission break even at one, Rochester grabbed its first lead of the night 67 seconds into the middle period.


As a Utica player had the puck in right corner of Daws, Mersch stripped the defenseman and left it for Murray. With his eyes up, Murray sent a pass across the zone for Malone, who neatly tucked a shot under the crossbar at the 18:53 mark.


With his third goal of the season, Malone has recorded six goals and nine assists for 15 points over his last 18 games dating back to the end of last season, which includes the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs.



Five minutes following Malone’s marker, Utica hemmed Rochester inside its own zone and forced Subban to make a save. The Comets then continued the pressure after a face-off win, the puck eventually made its way to Okhotiuk at the left point and the defenseman stepped into a shot from atop the left circle to make it a 2-2 score.


The game remained tied until Thompson’s tally late in the third period lifted the Comets to the win.


The home-and-home series shifts back to Utica on Saturday, Nov. 19 for a rematch at Adirondack Bank Center. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.



Storyline Stripes:

With two assists tonight, Brett Murray has recorded a team-leading four points (1+3) in three games against Utica this season ... Prior to tonight, Rochester had outscored its opposition 13-5 after the start of the third period and has outshot the visitors 49-45.


Goal Scorers

UTC: J. Dugan (2), N. Okhotiuk (1), T. Thompson (3)

ROC: M. Mersch (1), S. Malone (3)



UTC: N. Daws – 24/26 (W)
ROC: M. Subban – 22/25 (L)



UTC: 25
ROC: 26


Special Teams

UTC: PP (0/3) | PK (1/1)
ROC: PP (0/1) | PK (3/3)


Three Stars

1. UTC - T. Thompson

2. ROC - M. Mersch

3. UTC - R. Walsh

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