(Belleville, ON) … Forward C.J. Smith (1+2) and defenseman Jacob Bryson (1+1) each recorded a multi-point game to help the Rochester Americans (32-19-4-5) to a 5-3 victory over the first-place Belleville Senators (38-18-4-1) at CAA Arena Friday night. The contest served as the first game of a weekend set between the North Division rivals.
With the win, the Amerks, who have earned 11 out of a possible 16 points in the last eight games, hold a two-point lead over the Comets for second place in the AHL’s North Division standings. Rochester holds a 7-0-2-0 record all-time in the road portion of the head-to-head series while also claiming at least one point in 12 of the last 17 meetings with the Senators dating back to the 2017-18 season.
Along with both Bryson and Smith scoring their third and 12th goals of the season, respectively, Kevin Porter, Andrew Oglevie and Scott Wilson all found the back of the net for the Amerks. Goaltender Andrew Hammond (16-12-3) stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced against his former team to improve to 16-12-3 in his 33rd appearance of the campaign.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Rookie forward Alex Formenton notched his 27th marker of the season in the first period while Filip Chlapik scored twice, his fourth and fifth goals in his last four games for Belleville. In his second-career AHL appearance, rookie netminder Alex Dubeau (1-1-0) made 39 saves of the 43 shots he faced but was dealt the loss.
Five minutes after seeing Belleville take a 2-1 lead midway through the second period, Rochester was called for its third penalty of the fame inside the 7:00 mark. While on the penalty kill, however, a Senators defenseman broke his stick just inside the offensive blueline and Rochester skated the other way on an odd-man rush towards Dubeau.
Sean Malone carried the puck across the Belleville blueline before centering a pass to Bryson, who joined the rush. As the pass came to the front of the goal-mouth, the rookie defenseman steered in his shorthanded goal from Malone and Taylor Leier at the 14:28 mark to even the game at two goals apiece.
To close out the scoring in the middle period, Smith stepped out of the penalty box after serving a slashing infraction and picked up a loose puck that hopped over the Belleville defenseman’s stick. As Smith raced in all alone towards Dubeau, he flipped in his 12th goal of the season over the netminder’s glove to regain the Amerks’ one-goal cushion going into the final 20 minutes of play.
In the final period, Belleville tied the game at the 14:18 mark, but Rochester was able to reclaim the lead for the third time of the night as Oglevie and Smith teamed up for a goal with 3:01 left in regulation.
As the puck was in the right corner of the Senators zone, Smith dug it out and dished a pass to Oglevie, who was stationed near the goal crease. The second-year pro gathered the puck before evading a diving Dubeau and slipped in his 15th goal of the season to give Rochester a 4-3 lead.
The Senators attempted one final push to force overtime and pulled their goaltender in favor of the extra attacker, but Wilson sealed the 5-3 victory as he deposited the puck into the vacant net.
Despite not capitalizing on their first power-play of the night midway through the opening stanza, the Amerks continued to press to open the scoring on the young netminder. Oglevie intercepted an intended outlet pass out of the Senators zone to begin Rochester’s cycle with C.J. Smith and Porter. The trio used the defensive pairing of Jacob Bryson and Zach Redmond to keep Belleville hemmed inside its own zone. As Smith flung a shot from the left point, it caromed off the end boards and right onto the stick of Porter, giving Rochester a 1-0 lead.
The goal would snap a season-long 10-game scoring drought for Rochester’s captain.
Both Belleville and Rochester each tallied a pair of goals during the second period, while Oglevie and Wilson each added a late marker to give the Amerks the 5-3 victory after the Senators evened the score at three.
Following a quick turnaround, the Amerks and Senators close out their two-game set and season series on Saturday, Mar. 7 with a 7:00 p.m. rematch at CAA Arena. The contest will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: K. Porter (7), J. Bryson (3), C. Smith (12), A. Oglevie (15 – GWG), S. Wilson (11)
BEL: A. Formenton (27), F. Chlapik (9, 10)
ROC: A. Hammond – 25/28 (W)
BEL: A. Dubeau – 39/43 (L)
ROC: PP (0/1) | PK (2/3)
BEL: PP (1/3) | PK (1/1)
1. C. Smith (ROC)
2. F. Chlapik (BEL)
3. J. Bryson (ROC)