(Belleville, ON) … The Rochester Americans (7-4-0-1) made their first-ever trip to Yardmen Arena and doubled up the Belleville Senators (6-7-0-1) in the inaugural meeting between the new North Division rivals Friday night. With the 4-2 victory, the Amerks have earned nine out of a possible 10 points in their first five road games, improving to 4-0-0-1 to begin the 2017-18 season.
Forward Hudson Fasching (1+1) and defenseman Stuart Percy (0+2) each recorded their first multi-point efforts of the season as they led the Amerks offense. Kyle Criscuolo, Kevin Porter and Colin Blackwell rounded out the scoring for the visitors while Linus Ullmark pulled within one win of tying for the most wins in the AHL this season as he made 38 saves on 40 shots. The Swedish goaltender shows a record of 6-3-1 in 10 appearances this season and has earned the win in five of his last six decisions.
The B-Sens were paced by Max Reinhart and Gabriel Gagne as each found the back of the net while Danny Taylor drew the nod in the blue paint for the eighth time this season. Despite making 26 saves, the Plymouth, England, native suffered his second-straight loss.
With the Amerks leading 3-1 near the midway point of the final period, the B-Sens were gaining some energy while on the power-play. However, as the Amerks were trapped in their own zone for much of the penalty kill, Blackwell intercepted a pass at his own blueline before he raced in all-alone on Taylor. As the second-year pro was approaching the Belleville cage, he fired home his third goal of the season and his first-career shorthanded tally to put the Amerks ahead 4-1 at the 8:20 mark.
Belleville was able to trim Rochester’s lead with 7:13 remaining, but the Amerks and Ullmark prevailed to earn the 4-2 victory in the front-end of the back-to-back set.
Rochester opened the scoring during the first period as the B-Sens were in the middle of an apparent line-change upon exiting their own zone. Amerks defenseman Zach Redmond, back from his second call-up to the Buffalo Sabres, intercepted a clearing attempt and quickly hit Fasching short of the blueline of the Belleville zone. As Fasching protected the puck with his 6-foot-4 frame, he beat Taylor past the blocker for his third goal of season to give the Amerks 1-0 lead with 10:41 left in the opening stanza.
Rochester’s lead was short-lived, though, as Reinhart evened the scoring 11 seconds after an Amerks penalty to tie the game at one.
After the clubs emerged from the intermission break, the Amerks grabbed the lead for the remainder of the night as they tacked on a pair of goals less than four minutes apart during the middle period.
Controlling the puck along the near boards of the Senators zone, Criscuolo flung an innocent-looking shot towards C.J. Smith, who was parked in front of the Belleville netminder. Smith was unable to flag down the shot but the puck hit off a Senators defender and made its way behind Taylor 7:30 into the period. The marker was Criscuolo’s ninth point (4+5) in last seven games, putting him atop Rochester’s scoring leaders with his 11th point overall on the season.
The marker at was setup by Fasching and Percy. For Fasching, it was his second point of the contest, marking his second professional two-point outing and first since Feb. 24 when he notched a pair of goals against the Syracuse Crunch.
Following Criscuolo’s team-leading fifth goal of the slate, Porter put the Amerks ahead 3-1 at the 10:01 mark of the period. Skating with the puck towards the Belleville net, Rochester’s captain appeared as if he was going to go behind the net but fired a shot to beat Taylor. Barry Goers and Percy teamed for the assists and for Percy it was his second of the tilt. Porter now has three goals and four points through his first four games of November.
The two-point night from Percy marked his first as an Amerk and first since Dec. 11, 2016 when he was a member of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Each of the teams would add another goal during the final 20 minutes of play but it was the Amerks who picked up the 4-2 win in the first-ever meeting between the two North Division foes.
The same two teams get back it again on Saturday, Nov. 11 as the Amerks and Senators square off for the second straight night in a North Division rematch at Yardmen Arena. Following Saturday’s 7:00 p.m. contest, Rochester returns home on Wednesday, Nov. 15 for its first meeting of the season against the Binghamton Devils, the newest affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. Both matchups will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Fasching (3), Criscuolo (5), Porter (4), Blackwell (3)
BEL: Reinhart (2), Gagne (5)
RCH: Ullmark – 38/40 (W)
BEL: Taylor – 26/30 (L)
RCH: PP (0/5) | PK (4/6)
BEL: PP (2/6) | PK (5/5)