|CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME|
|DANNY O'REGAN POST-GAME|
|JUSTIN BAILEY POST-GAME|
|KEVIN PORTER POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) – The Rochester Americans (36-22-11-6) fell behind the Belleville Senators (28-41-2-3) 3-0 midway through first period of Friday night’s regular season home finale at The Blue Cross Arena. However, the Amerks managed to turn things around and outscored the Senators 6-1 over the last 50 minutes of play for a 6-4 come-from-behind victory.
With the win, the Amerks show a record of 6-2-1-0 in their last nine contests and hold a three-point lead on the Utica Comets for the third spot in the AHL’s North Division standings going into their final matchup of the campaign.
Danny O’Regan recorded his first three-point (1+2) outing as an Amerk and third of the campaign to lead Rochester to the win while Justin Bailey (2+0), Kevin Porter (1+1) and Nathan Paetsch (0+2) all turned in multi-point nights. Hudson Fasching and Colin Blackwell capped off the scoring on the night with their 12th and 17th goals of the season, respectively. Goaltender Linus Ullmark made 26 saves to improve his record to 21-12-10 in 44 appearances this season.
Filip Chalik tallied his fourth multi-point (1+1) performance of the season and third in the last five games and Nick Moutrey added his fifth of the year for Belleville. Rookie Ryan Scarfo scored his first prof goal while Gabriel Gagne tallied his team-leading 20th of the season. Rookie netminder Filip Gustavsson stopped 32 of 37 but suffered third loss in his sixth appearance of the season.
Facing a 3-0 deficit with 10:12 remaining into the first period, Bailey scored his first of the night and eighth of the season to trim Belleville’s lead to a pair of goals.
Stuart Percy and O’Regan were awarded the helpers on the Buffalo native’s long-ranged shot from the left point.
“It wasn’t a good start,” said Porter. “We just stuck with the game plan tonight. We kept it simple and pucks started going in for us. It’s always good to get a win on home ice. The fans have been great in supporting us all season, so to get the win here it was something they deserved.”
Less than four minutes into the second period, Bailey stepped in front of an errant Senators pass inside the Amerks zone and wired a wrister past the blocker of Gustavsson to trim the lead to 3-2 with 16:26 showing on the clock.
Gagne pushed Belleville’s lead to a pair with 5:40 left in the stanza before Fasching slipped in a shot prior to the end of the period.
The Amerks continued to ride the momentum into the third period despite trailing 4-3 to start the frame.
O’Regan won the opening draw of the stanza back to Fedun. The blueliner spotted Porter streaking down the left wall entering the offensive zone. After gathering the pass, Rochester’s team captain slipped the puck to O’Regan. The second-year forward split the defense and buried a shot to tie the contest at 4-4 just nine seconds into the frame.
Nearly 10 minutes later, the duo, along with Paetsch, teamed up to give Rochester its first lead of the night with 8:11 left in the period.
Paetsch’s assist was his fifth over his last five games while Porter scored what would be his team-best sixth game-winning goal of the season.
In an effort to knot the score, Belleville pulled Gustavsson for the extra attacker with 95 seconds left in the period, but Blackwell ended any hopes of a Belleville comeback as he slipped in his 11th goal over the last 14 games.
Brendan Guhle was credited with the lone assist, his first since returning from a two-month stint with the Buffalo Sabres.
“It was a big win, considering the start we had,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “We came in during the first intermission and talked about needing to win our shift and take it shift by shift. During the playoffs, we might be down a goal or two, so I liked how we responded tonight. Guys fed off each other’s energy and the crowd. It was a great crowd tonight, too.”
“Tonight’s win was big for us,” Bailey said. “We didn’t want to be trailing in the game, but coming back and learning how to win will be big for us going into the playoffs. We were facing a 3-0 deficit and I think that is something about this team; we never really feel we’re out of the game.”
Rochester closes out the regular season on Saturday, April 14 as the Amerks travel to the War Memorial Arena for one final get-together with the Syracuse Crunch. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester. The full first-round playoff schedule and opponent will be announced following the conclusion of the 2017-18 regular season on Sunday.
RCH: Bailey (8, 9), Fasching (12), O’Regan (13), Porter (17), Blackwell (17)
BEL: Scarfro (1), Moutrey (5), Chlapik (11), Gagne (20)
RCH: Ullmark – 26/30 (W)
BEL: Gustavsson – 32/37 (L)
RCH: PP (0/2) | PK (4/4)
BEL: PP (0/4) | PK (2/2)
2017-18 Year-End Player Award Winners
Game-Winning Goals – Kevin Porter
Rookie of the Year – C.J. Smith
Rob Zabelny Unsung Hero – Colin Blackwell
Fairand/O’Neil Sportsmanship Award – Colin Blackwell
McCulloch Trophy – Nathan Paetsch
AHL Amerks Man of the Year – Nathan Paetsch
Most Improved Player – Sean Malone
Scoring Champion – Zach Redmond
Most Popular Player – Linus Ullmark
Most Valuable Player – Linus Ullmark