LUUKKONEN BACKSTOPS AMERKS TO 3-1 WIN OVER CRUNCHNov 9, 2022
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s near-perfect 34-save effort carried the Rochester Americans (7-4-0-0) to a 3-1 win over the intrastate rival Syracuse Crunch (2-6-1-2) Wednesday at Upstate Medical University Arena.
With the win, the Amerks own a 3-1-0-0 mark through the first 12 games of the season series with the Crunch after showing a 4-6-2-0 record during the 2021-22 campaign. Overall, Rochester shows a 7-4-0-0 record through the first 11 games of the slate and have won four of its last five to remain in second place in the North Division with 14 points.
Forward Lukas Rousek recorded his third multi-point effort of the season as he picked up an assist on the first Rochester goal of the contest before sealing the scoring with his fourth tally of the campaign. Defenseman Ethan Prow opened the scoring in the game with his second goal of the season to extend his point streak to five games. Dating back to Oct. 29, Prow has recorded six points (2+4). Zach Berzolla scored his first as an Amerk while Mason Jobst, Brandon Biro and Brandon Davidson all turned in an assist in the win.
Luukkonen stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced, which included 19 in the final 20 minutes of play, to improve to 6-3-0 on the season. The netminder, who is tied for the league lead in wins (6), also contributed offensively, recording his first assist of the campaign late in the third period on Rousek’s goal.
Gabriel Fortier provided the lone tally for the Crunch as he scored his second of the season from Gage Goncalves during the third period. Goaltender Hugo Alnefelt (1-2-1) stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced but suffered the defeat. The netminder earned his second consecutive start after earning his first career AHL shutout on Saturday versus the Charlotte Checkers.
Just 1:14 after the Crunch evened the score at 1-1 in the third period, Jobst intercepted a centering a pass in-between the face-off circles of the Amerks end of the ice. He then raced the length of the ice with Isak Rosen and Jiri Kulich flanked on his wings. As he reached the top of the dots, he sent a pass through the legs of a Crunch skater before Berzolla slipped a shot inside the left post to restore Rochester’s lead.
The goal was Berzolla’s first in the AHL since Dec. 29 2021, as a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack and was the Amerks first shot of the period.
Syracuse continued to press for the equalizer over the final 17 minutes of play, but much like the first two periods, could not find a way to get the puck behind Luukkonen as he made several key saves to keep the score 2-1.
Late in regulation, the Crunch pulled Alnefelt for an extra attacker, however, following a clearing attempt from Luukkonen and Davidson, Rousek sprinted deep inside the offensive zone to seal the 3-1 win with an empty-net goal.
Nearly eight minutes into an opening period of a scoreless game, Prow patiently awaited while the Amerks completed a line change as he held the puck above the right face-off circle in the Rochester zone.
Prow attempted to send a pass for Rousek as he cut the through the neutral zone and the puck eventually made its way to the left corner of the Syracuse end of the ice. Rousek gathered the puck and slithered a pass through the crease to Biro at the far circle. Biro immediately one-touched the pass to Prow at the right point and the veteran blueliner ripped a shot past the blocker of Alnefelt for his second of the season.
With his goal at the 7:44 mark, Prow has five points (1+4) over his last five outings dating back to Oct. 29 while Biro earned his team-leading ninth assist of the campaign.
Both teams took penalties in the second stanza but Luukkonen and Alnefelt stood tall as they stopped all 22 shots they faced before Fortier scored 1:44 in the final 20 minutes of play.
Rochester closed out the scoring as Berzolla and Rousek both lit the lamp at the 2:58 and 19:08 marks, respectively.
The Amerks continue their busy three-game week on Friday, Nov. 11 when they welcome the Cleveland Monsters back for a 7:05 p.m. North Division showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. All the action will be carried live on 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.
Amerks goaltender Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen has stopped 98 of the 108 shots he faced this season after the second period, which includes 49 of 52 in his last four outings ... Luukkonen has appeared in each of Rochester’s four games this season against the Crunch and boasts a 3-1-0 record ... He entered the season with a 7-6-2 mark in 15 appearances versus Syracuse.
ROC: E. Prow (2), Z. Berzolla (1), L. Rousek (4)
SYR: G. Fortier (2)
ROC: U. Luukkonen – 34/35 (W)
SYR: H. Alnefelt – 25/27 (L)
ROC: PP (0/4) | PK (3/3)
SYR: PP (0/3) | PK (4/4)
1. ROC - U. Luukkonen
2. SYR - H. Alnefelt
3. SYR - S. Ryfors