KULICH’S HAT TRICK POWERS AMERKS TO OT WIN OVER ROCKET
Kulich nets OT game-winner for second straight game in 5-4 win over LavalOct 18, 2023
Jiri Kulich delivered the overtime game-winner for the second straight game to cap his first career hat trick while leading the Rochester Americans (2-0-1-0) to a 5-4 win over the Laval Rocket (0-2-1-0) in the first of a two-game set between the North Division rivals Wednesday at Place Bell.
With the win, Rochester has picked up at least one point in 14 of its first 18 road games in Laval, going 12-4-2-0 over that span.
In addition to Kulich recording his second straight multi-point game with three goals, Justin Richards and Viktor Neuchev both scored the first goals of the campaign. Neuchev’s tally was his first career marker in the AHL while Richards was his first with the Amerks. Jeremy Davies, Aleksandr Kisakov, Brandon Biro, Lukas Rousek, Linus Weissbach, Isak Rosen, and Mason Jobst all recorded one assist in the win.
Goaltender Devin Cooley, who earned his first win with the Amerks, made 40 saves while facing 19 shots in each of the last two periods. Dating back to last season with the Milwaukee Admirals, Cooley has won eight of his last nine decisions on the road.
Mitchell Stephens (1+1) and Lias Andersson (0+2) each recorded two points for the Rocket while Lucas Condotta and former Amerk Joel Armia each tallied a goal in the defeat. Nicolas Beaudin, Philippe Maillet and Xavier Simoneau all chipped in an assist.
Goaltender Strauss Mann (0-1-1) stopped 30 of the 35 shots he faced while also being credited with a goal, the first of his professional career.
After seeing the Rocket erase its third-period deficit to force overtime, Rochester was called for an interference penalty in the opening minute of the extra frame.
The Amerks successfully killed off the infraction before Tyson Kozak and Davies both hit the crossbar with a shot moments apart on the same shift.
Rochester continued to press for the extra point as Davies gathered his own rebound off the post. The blueliner tucked behind Mann and banked another shot off the pads of the netminder only to have Kulich bury the rebound 3:11 into the extra frame to seal the 5-4 win.
The overtime-winning goal for Kulich was his second in as many games for Rochester and completed his first hat trick in the AHL. Through his first three games to begin the campaign, Kulich leads the league with four goals and six points.
The Amerks began the first period outshooting the Rocket 17-4 while also building a 3-1 lead.
Neuchev started the scoring as he finished off Jobst’s centering feed just 2:17 into the contest before Kulich’s first of the night from Rosen and Davies just over two minutes later.
To cap off the three-goal run to start the contest, Kulich buried Biro’s cross-ice pass at the 12:37 mark only to have the Rocket answer back on Mann’s goal, credited to him after being the last Laval player to touch the puck moments before the Amerks inadvertently scored into their own vacated net on a delayed penalty.
The teams traded goals in the second period before Laval added a pair in the final period of regulation to force overtime.
During the extra period, Kulich sealed the win as he scooped up Davies’ rebound in-between the face-off circles with less than two minutes to play.
The Amerks and Rocket close out their two-game set with a 7 p.m. rematch on Friday, Oct. 20 at Place Bell. All the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.
With his three-goal outing, Jiri Kulich is the second Amerk skater in the past two seasons to record his first pro hat trick on the road in Laval (Brandon Biro) ... Dating back to the start of the 2022-23 campaign against the Rocket, Rochester has scored 14 of its 34 goals in the opening period of play ... Viktor Neuchev is the first Amerk rookie this season to score a goal and third to record a point, joining Ryan Johnson and Nikita Novikov.
ROC: V. Neuchev (1), J. Kulich (2, 3, 4), J. Richards (1)
LAV: S. Mann (1), J. Armia (3), L. Condotta (1), M. Stephens (1)
ROC: D. Cooley – 40/43 (W)
LAV: S. Mann – 30/35 (OTL)
ROC: PP (1/5) | PK (4/5)
LAV: PP (1/5) | PK (4/5)
1. LAV - S. Mann
2. ROC - D. Cooley
3. ROC - J. Kulich