(Rochester, NY) … After 40 minutes of a penalty-filled North Division showdown between the Rochester Americans (7-2-1-0) and Laval Rocket (3-5-1-0) Saturday night, the Amerks entered the third period trailing 1-0. When the final horn sounded at The Blue Cross Arena, it was the Amerks who extended their point streak to eight straight games as they came away with 3-2 win thanks to three third-period goals.
With the victory, the Amerks have collected 15 out of a possible 16 points over their last eight games overall to maintain their lead atop the North Division standings. Rochester also improved to 7-2-0 all-time against the Rocket while winning three straight dating back to last season.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Zach Redmond scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season while pushing his career-long point streak to nine games. The veteran blueliner shows 14 points (6+8) through his last nine contests, as well as holding the longest-active point streak in the league. C.J. Smith tallied his fourth marker of the season while former Rocket forward Yannick Veilleux recorded his first goal as an Amerk and the game-winner to complete the scoring. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who turned in a 20-save and shutout performance last night, drew the nod between pipes for the fourth time in the last five games. The 26-year-old stopped 37 of 39 while picking up his fifth straight victory.
Rookie forward Jake Evans recorded his first-career AHL multi-assist game as he registered a helper on each of Brett Kulak and Kenny Agostino’s goals for Laval, which lost their fourth straight contest. Netminder Charlie Lindgren finished the tilt with 22 saves on the night but was handed the loss. He now shows a record of 3-3-1 in seven appearance this season.
WATCH: SCOTT WEDGEWOOD POST-GAME
Following a 4-on-4 sequence for 55 seconds, the Redmond knotted the score at 1-1 at the 8:02 mark of the third period.
Intercepting a pass below the goal line, Eric Cornel circled the net and hit Taylor Fedun atop the Amerks blueline. Fedun, with his head up, skated to his right before sending a perfect pass to a waiting Redmond to the left of the netminder. The defenseman simply redirected the puck inside the near post and behind Lindgren.
Just 75 seconds after Redmond’s game-tying goal while on the penalty-kill, Smith pressured Lindgren into a mistake as he stole the puck from the goaltender behind the cage. The second-year pro came around the net and deposited into a vacant net.
The unassisted, shorthanded tally was Smith’s fourth of the slate and gave Rochester a 2-1 lead with 10:43 left in regulation.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
“C.J.’s got a real knack for scoring big time goals,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “He reads the play well and I thought he played really well tonight.”
The goal came after the Amerks killed off their second 5-on-3 on infraction of the night.
“We talked last night about improving our penalty kill and blocking shots is a way to improve it and help win hockey games,” Taylor explained.
Later in the frame, Veilleux forced a turnover inside the Laval zone before tallying his first point and goal as an Amerk with less than six minutes to play in regulation. Dalton Smith fired the puck off the left pad of Lindgren following the turnover and Veilleux swept the rebound into the net to double Rochester’s lead.
WATCH: YANNICK VEILLEUX POST-GAME
“It felt pretty good,” Veilleux offered with a grin. “I haven’t had any of those kind of bounces in a while, but it was a relief to get that one. I was in the right spot at the right time.”
Despite making it a one-goal game at the 17:04 mark and pulling Lindgren, Wedgewood and company hung on for a 3-2 come-from-behind win.
“We have a lot of guys who can battle,” Wedgewood said. “The PK stepped up again tonight and it was a gritty game, but a big third period from the guys helped us to the win.”
The two clubs played scoreless hockey until Kulak tallied the game’s first goal of the contest with 5:43 left in the second stanza before the Amerks put a three-spot in the final 20 minutes.
WATCH: KEVIN PORTER POST-GAME
“We knew we did not play our best two periods of hockey,” team captain Kevin Porter said. “We were sort of flat in the first period and okay in the second, so we knew we had to play better in the third and we did just that.”
The oldest rivalry in the American Hockey League will be renewed on Friday, Nov. 2 in Rochester as the Amerks welcome the Hershey Bears back to The Blue Cross Arena for the only time this season. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the first of a home-and-home series and the 457th all-time meeting between the league’s two cornerstone franchises. The contest can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester and viewed on AHLTV.
ROC: Redmond (6), C.J. Smith (4), Veilleux (1 – GWG)
LAV: Kulak (2), Agostino (4)
ROC: Wedgewood – 37/39 (W)
LAV: Lindgren – 22/25 (L)
ROC: PP (0/6) | PK (10/12)
LAV: PP (2/12) | PK (6/6)