KULICH, AMERKS TAKE DOWN ROCKET IN OVERTIME
Kulich delivers overtime game-winner to seal 4-3 win over LavalNov 22, 2023
Brandon Biro (1+1) helped the Rochester Americans (9-4-2-0) erase a two-goal deficit before Jiri Kulich finished off a 4-3 overtime win Wednesday night against the Laval Rocket (5-9-2-0) at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the win, the Amerks improved to show a near-perfect 13-3-0-0 mark at The Blue Cross Arena versus Laval, which includes a pair of victories in 2023-24. Ahead of Friday’s rematch with the Rocket, Rochester sits in second place in the North Division standings, just one point back of the Cleveland Monsters.
In addition to Biro turning in his second straight two-point outing and Kulich scoring for the second time in as many games, Justin Richards and Viktor Neuchev logged their third and second goals of the campaign, respectively. Lukas Rousek, Isak Rosen, and Riley Stillman each recorded an assist in the win for Rochester, which improved to 3-1-0-0 in the season series.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski (4-2-0) made his sixth appearance of the season and third straight start in the crease. The veteran netminder made 38 saves to earn his fourth win of the campaign.
Alex-Olivier Voyer (1+1) and Olivier Galipeau (0+2) both notched multi-point efforts for Laval while Nicolas Beaudin and former Amerk Joel Armia added one goal each.
Goaltender Jakub Dobeš (3-5-1) took the defeat in the Rocket crease as he stopped 31 of 35 shots in what was his 10th appearance of the season.
Facing a two-goal deficit with under three minutes left in the first period, Richards sparked a three-goal run prior to the end of the frame.
Richards drew a delayed penalty just inside the Amerks blueline and sped away from a Rocket defenseman for a breakaway. As Richards reached the top of the crease, he tucked a backhanded shot past the blocker of Dobeš for his third goal of the season in the final minute of the opening frame.
Rochester carried the momentum into the opening minute of the second period when Biro stripped a Rocket skater of the puck deep inside Laval’s zone. The Penn State product exchanged a give-and-go inside the right face-off dot with Rousek before patiently maneuvering to the net and wiring a shot to even the score.
After the two teams went deadlocked at two after 40 minutes, Neuchev received Stillman’s outlet pass near the center-ice logo. The rookie forward weaved his way into the offensive zone before splitting the defensemen and backhanding a highlight reel goal past the blocker of Dobeš at the 6:53 mark.
While Beaudin tied the contest less than three minutes later, the game would require overtime to determine a winner.
In the extra frame, Zach Metsa cut across the goal crease with the puck and drew a slashing infraction.
On the ensuing power-play, Rosen, Biro, and Kulich all moved the puck around the top of the zone as Michael Mersch provided a screen in-front of the Rocket goaltender. Rosen shifted the puck to his left for Biro, who then quickly sent a cross-ice pass for a wide-open Kulich to hammer over the glovehand of the netminder to seal the 4-3 win.
Of Kulich’s 11 goals this season, which are tied for second-most in the AHL, three have come by way of overtime. The second-year forward tops the league in that category.
Just past the halfway point of a scoreless first period, Laval dumped the puck to the right corner of the Amerks net. As Tokarski attempted to play the puck in the trapezoid, he inadvertently collided with a Rochester defender before he sprawled to get back in position. While he managed to regain his footing, Riley Kidney slid a one-time feed for Voyer atop the crease to give the Rocket a 1-0 lead.
Less than four minutes later, Rochester drew a tripping infraction, but the power-play did not go as planned.
The Amerks tried to bring the puck up through the neutral zone, but Galipeau held his position at the blueline. As the defenseman stood tall, the puck caromed off his stick before Armia gathered it and raced in all alone towards Tokarski, doubling Laval’s lead.
Rochester then outscored the Rocket 4-1 over the final 40 minutes, culminating with Kulich’s game-winner nearly three minutes into overtime.
The Amerks close out their streak of 11 straight games against North Division opponents with a rematch against the Rocket on Friday, Nov. 24 at The Blue Cross Arena. The North Division showdown will be live carried on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.
Stars and Stripes:
With Isak Rosen (0+1) and Jiri Kulich (1+0) posting one point apiece, Rochester owns an 19-3-2-1 record when they each have at least one point in the same game dating back to start of last season … Including tonight’s game, the Amerks have scored at least four goals in 10 of its first 15 games, including six outings with five goals or more.
LAV: A. Voyer (1), J. Armia (6), N. Beaudin (1)
ROC: J. Richards (3), B. Biro (5), J. Kulich (11)
LAV: J. Dobeš – 31/35 (OTL)
ROC: D. Tokarski – 38/41 (W)
LAV: PP (0/2) | PK (2/3)
ROC: PP (1/3) | PK (2/2)
1. ROC - J. Kulich
2. LAV - A. Voyer
3. ROC - B. Biro