(Rochester, NY) … The Rochester Americans (11-5-2-0) fired off a season-high 47 shots, including 20 in the opening frame, but were unable to close the gap in a 5-4 loss to the visiting Utica Comets (8-10-1-1) Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
Despite the setback, though, the Amerks maintain a three-point lead atop the AHL’s North Division standings and have earned 24 points out of a possible 30 points in their last 15 games.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Reigning Amerks Rookie of the Year C.J. Smith tallied a career-high three-assist night while Wayne Simpson and Jack Dougherty each recorded a goal and helper in the loss. The two-point performance was Dougherty’s first as an Amerk, which also featured is his first goal of the season. Forward Sean Malone rounded out the scoring while goaltender Adam Wilcox was dealt with the defeat. The netminder shows a record of 5-2-1 in nine appearances this season.
Michael Carcone posted his second straight two-point (2+0) outing while fellow winger Lukas Jasek (0+2) registered a two-assist night to help the Comets to their second consecutive victory. Cam Darcy, Zack MacEwen and Brendan Gaunce all scored for the Comets while goaltender Richard Bachman picked up the win in-between the pipes as he stopped 43 of 47 shots he faced.
The Amerks seem poised to grab their second lead of the night as they were awarded a penalty inside the final two minutes of the middle frame with the game tied at 3-3. However, Carcone and Darcy skated in on a 2-on-1 rush towards Wilcox and Carcone slipped a shot behind the netminder to give the Comets a one-goal lead with five seconds left in the stanza.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
“It was a total team loss tonight,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “We had some good things and we had some bad things. Our forwards had some good moments, then bad, and same with our defensemen and goaltender. I think we are better than we played tonight, and with the depth we have, we should never allow five goals in a game.”
Utica continued to ride the momentum and doubled its lead 2:44 into the final period when Darcy intercepted a pass in-between the face-off circles in the Rochester zone.
WATCH: C.J. SMITH POST-GAME
“We had some unlucky bounces tonight and some tough turnovers,” said Smith, who has 10 points (3+7) over his last nine games. “We have to work hard, though, to get the breaks we need, and we did not do that for the entire 60 minutes tonight.”
The Amerks got within one goal with 13:11 left in regulation as Malone stuffed in a loose rebound. Alexander Nylander picked up the puck in the defensive zone and carried it into the Comets end of the rink before dumping it into the right corner. Malone gathered the puck and sent it to Dougherty at the top of the point, where the blueliner fired it towards Bachman. The puck caromed through the net-front traffic before Justin Bailey slid a pass to Malone, who was parked along the goal-line.
Rochester pressed to knot the game over the remaining 13 minutes and pulled Wilcox for the final 2:26 but was unable to find the equalizer.
The two North Division foes combined for five goals, three power-play markers and 30 shots in the first period, but the Amerks trailed 3-2 after the first stanza.
WATCH: WAYNE SIMPSON POST-GAME
While facing a one-goal deficit, Dougherty tied the game at the 10:42 mark of the middle period as he tossed a seemingly innocent shot from the top of the Comets zone towards Bachman that caught the netminder off guard.
Utica tallied a pair of goals near the end of the frame and one in the opening three minutes before hanging on for a 5-4 victory.
“It was disappointing to not get the two points tonight,” Simpson said. “We fought back and tried to get back in the game, but it was not enough. It was a big divisional contest.”
The Amerks are back on the road on Saturday, Nov. 24 when they make their way to the southern tier for a North Division showdown against the Binghamton Devils at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the first of 10 meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/ 95.7 FM ESPN Rochester. The matchup can also be viewed on AHLTV.
ROC: Simpson (5), O’Regan (7), Dougherty (1), Malone (1)
UTI: Gaunce (2), MacEwen (8), Carcone (5, 6), Darcy (3 – GWG )
ROC: Wilcox – 17/22 (L)
UTI: Bachman – 43/47 (W)
ROC: PP (1/6) | PK (3/5)
UTI: PP (2/5) | PK (5/6)
1. Michael Carcone (UTI)|
2. C.J. Smith (ROC)
3. Cam Darcy (UTI)