TOKARSKI BACKSTOPS AMERKS TO SHOOTOUT WIN IN SYRACUSE
Kulich scores league-leading ninth goal in 10 games, Tokarski stops 42 in 5-4 win over CrunchNov 4, 2023
The Rochester Americans (6-2-2-0) were outshot 46-23 on Saturday night against the Syracuse Crunch (5-2-1-0) but managed to come away with a 5-4 shootout victory in the weekend finale at Upstate Medical University Arena.
With the win, the Amerks remain in first place in the AHL’s North Division standings with 14 points and even the season series with the Crunch 1-1-0-0 after dropping a 7-2 decision to Syracuse earlier in the week. Dating back to last season versus Syracuse, five of the last seven games between the two North Division opponents have required overtime to determine a winner.
Forwards Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen both turned in multi-point efforts with each scoring one goal and an assist while Justin Richards and Olivier Nadeau rounded out the scoring, including the latter’s first professional goal. Jeremy Davies, Zach Metsa, Ethan Prow, Kale Clague, and Damien Giroux all contributed with an assist. Along with Kulich converting in the shootout, Filip Cederqvist’s attempt was successful.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski (1-1-0) earned his first win of the season as he stopped 42 of 46 shots in the win, including a dazzling save in overtime. He denied both Crunch skaters in the skills competition.
Gabriel Fortier scored a pair of goals for Syracuse while Cole Koepke and Daniel Walcott each had one in regulation. Hugo Alnefelt (2-1-1) made his fourth appearance of the season but suffered the defeat in the shootout despite making 18 saves.
Early in the third period and facing a 3-2 deficit, Syracuse evened the score as Walcott fired in a backhanded pass from the left circle 2:47 into the frame.
Just under 10 minutes later, Rochester drew a tripping infraction to earn a power-play.
The club needed only 18 seconds on the ensuing man-advantage before Kulich blasted a one-timer, his team-leading ninth of the season in 10 games – from Rosen and Prow with 7:18 to go in regulation.
As the contest was nearing its final minutes, Syracuse tied the score at four to force overtime as Fortier tucked in a rebound past Tokarski for his second of the night.
In the extra frame, the two clubs combined for five shots but neither club could capitalize, thus the shootout was required.
Rochester elected to shoot first in the shootout and Kulich and Cederqvist both were successful in their attempts while Tokarski stonewalled both Gage Goncalves and Felix Robert.
Less than seven minutes into a scoreless game, Rochester took a double minor high-sticking infraction.
Despite being shorthanded, Davies held the line just inside the Amerks zone before Giroux grabbed the puck along the boards. After gaining the Syracuse blueline, Giroux centered a pass to a streaking Richards, who steered it past Alnefelt to give Rochester the 1-0 lead.
Nearly five minutes after Richards connected for his second shorthanded goal of the season, Mesta received Clague’s pass before pulling up near the left face-off dot of Alnefelt. With Nadeau reaching the top of the crease, Metsa, who played center for the second straight contest, fed the rookie winger for his first pro goal at the 12:30 mark, doubling Rochester’s lead.
Following the intermission break, Syracuse had a carryover penalty to kill for the first 1:02 of the period.
Rochester attempted to gain the offensive zone with the puck, however Emil Lilleberg denied the entry and sprung Koepke all alone towards Tokarski. With possession of the puck, Koepke cut from the left of the zone to the middle and roofed a shot to trim Rochester’s lead in half.
Shortly after the Crunch made it a one-goal game, Kulich knocked down the puck just outside the offensive blueline and sprinted the opposite way on an odd-man rush with Rosen.
The duo reached the hashmarks before Kulich dished a perfect, cross-crease feed for Rosen to hammer in his fifth of the slate with 15:49 to play in the second period.
Later in the stanza, the Amerks were whistled for a goaltender interference infraction.
A second after clearing the penalty, the Crunch cycled the puck around the outside of the zone before Max Crozier blasted a shot on the net. Tokarski made a diving attempt at the puck, and despite his effort, it caromed off the top of his glove before Fortier tapped it across the line.
The Amerks return to home ice on Friday, Nov. 10 for the front-end of a home-and-home series with the Utica Comets at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. The North Division showdown will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV. The matchup will also be televised live locally the game on CW Rochester.
Stars and Stripes:
Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen both added a pair of points tonight on a goal and an assist each … The duo has combined for 118 points (52+56) in 148 regular season games … Dating back to last season, Rochester boasts a 17-3-2-1 record when they each have at least one point and show a 7-1-0-0 mark when they both score in the same game ... Olivier Nadeau scored his first professional goal while Riley Fiddler-Schultz became the seventh different Amerks rookie to appear in a game this season … Ethan Prow appeared in his 400th pro game ... Jeremy Davies recorded his 100th AHL with a primary assist while also appearing in his 200th AHL game ... Dustin Tokarkski’s 42 saves are his most in an AHL game since Nov. 24, 2018 … The Amerks have used 30 different players through their first 10 games of the season, which includes three goaltenders.
SYR: C. Koepke (3), G. Fortier (1, 2), D. Walcott (5)
ROC: J. Richards (2), O. Nadeau (1), I. Rosen (5), J. Kulich (9)
SYR: H. Alnefelt – 18/22 (OTL)
ROC: D. Tokarski – 42/46 (W)
SYR: PP (0/4) | PK (1/2)
ROC: PP (1/2) | PK (4/4)
1. SYR - G. Fortier
2. ROC - D. Tokarski
3. ROC - J. Kulich