|CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME|
|COLIN BLACKWELL POST-GAME|
|WILL BORGEN POST-GAME|
|ZACH REDMOND POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) … Second-year forward Colin Blackwell capped a career-high four-point night, scoring just 12 seconds into overtime to lead the Rochester Americans (32-20-11-6) to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win in the final game of a four-game homestand against the Charlotte Checkers (39-26-1-3) Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
Tonight’s contest marked the second game between the two clubs that was decided in the extra period and the 28th overall this season that went beyond regulation. The AHL record for the most overtime games in a season stands at 29, set by the 2006-07 Milwaukee Admirals. The win also keeps Rochester one point ahead of the Utica Comets in the AHL’s North Division standings heading into the final game of month tomorrow night in Binghamton.
Blackwell tallied a pair of goals and two assists to extend Rochester’s point streak to three games and give the Amerks their seventh game in which they earned at least one point of the last eight on home ice. Zach Redmond buried his 15th goal of the season to go along with his 30th helper of the year while Alexander Nylander lit the lamp for the seventh time this season. Redmond has 10 points (3+7) over his last eight games to regain the team lead in scoring with 45 points in 61 games. In his first home start of the season and third appearance of the slate, goaltender Jonas Johansson earned his first victory of the year as he made 18 saves.
Trevor Carrick collected his eighth multi-point (1+1) performance for the Checkers, who lost their first game of the season in overtime, while Julien Gauthier and Greg McKegg each scored a goal in the defeat. Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who paces the American Hockey League with 31 wins, suffered the overtime loss despite stopping 25 of 29.
As the Amerks faced a 3-2 deficit with 5:27 remaining in the third period, Blackwell won a face-off in the offensive zone back to Redmond at the near point. After taking two strides, Redmond stepped into a shot that sailed past Nedeljkovic to tie the game and force overtime.
Blackwell, Redmond and Nylander began the extra session but it was Blackwell who again won the draw back to Redmond. The duo circled in the defensive zone before Redmond sprung Blackwell on a breakaway just 12 seconds into the period.
The second-year pro snuck behind the Checkers defensemen and tucked a shot inside the right post of Nedeljkovic and sealed the 4-3 victory.
“I am feeling fresh and rejuvenated,” said Blackwell, who has 13 points (5+8) over his last eight games, including seven points (4+3) in the last three. “When I had to sit out with my injury, it actually may have been a blessing in disguise as I am gaining confidence every game. I have played with several players over the course of the season, but the biggest thing is we have played to each other’s strengths.”
Charlotte, which opened the scoring with 5:57 left in the first frame, took a 1-0 lead but Nylander evened the score less than five minutes into the second stanza. Hudson Fasching and Blackwell helped dig a puck out of the far corner before Nylander roofed a shot past the blocker with 15:47 left in the period.
“I think we got outplayed in the first period,” said Redmond. “We regrouped in the intermission and just stuck with our game plan. I think we got better as the game when on and that is something we need to continue to do leading up to and in the playoffs. Getting the win overtime was also a big for us, too.”
“The first period was not good,” Amerks head coach Chris Taylor said. “The score could have been a lot worse, but I think J.J. (Johansson) played outstanding. The second period was a little bit better, but I thought in the third we played a lot better.”
The Checkers, however, grabbed the lead once again with Gauthier’s marker and took a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Much like in overtime, Blackwell scored less than a minute into the frame. The power-play tally just 35 seconds into the second period was Rochester’s fifth goal in the last four games while on the man-advantage. Stuart Percy and Danny O’Regan were credited with the helpers on the goal.
After Charlotte took its third lead of the contest, Redmond knotted the score at 3-3 late in regulation before Blackwell capped his four-point night with his 11th goal of the season 12 seconds into the overtime frame.
The Amerks conclude the month of March on the road on Saturday, Mar. 31 when they travel to the southern tier to meet up with the Binghamton Devils at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the 10th and final meeting between the North Division rivals this season and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Nylander (7), Redmond (15), Blackwell (10, 11 – OT GWG)
CHA: Carrick (8), Gauthier (13), McKegg (11)
RCH: Johansson – 18/21 (W)
CHA: Nedeljkovic – 25/29 (OTL)
RCH: PP (1/3) | PK (1/2)
CHA: PP (1/2) | PK (2/3)