Amerks salvage weekend series in New England with win over Hartford

November 20, 2018 - 5:19 pm

The Rochester Americans went on the road for their first three-game weekend of the season as they spent their time in New England to face the Springfield Thunderbirds, Providence Bruins and Hartford Wolf Pack. The trip got off to a very rocky start with a 9-4 loss to the Thunderbirds on Friday night, but the team managed to grab three of a possible six points, which included a comeback win over the Wolf Pack on Sunday.

Friday got off to a promising start as the Amerks jumped to a 1-0 lead on Springfield just 7:03 into the contest. It was captain Kevin Porter scoring his fourth goal of the season after Lawrence Pilut made a nice play to break up a pass at center ice, then quickly feed Porter to start the transition. On a 2-on-1 with C.J. Smith, Porter let go of a wrist shot that beat goalie Samuel Montembeault for the goal.

However, it was all Springfield from there as they tied the game with 4:14 to go in the first period, then went on to score seven more unanswered goals to take an 8-1 lead in the second period. This included a hat-trick from Thunderbirds forward Dryden Hunt, who ended up with a four-point night and the game's first star honors.

Scott Wedgewood started in goal for the Amerks, but was pulled in the second period after giving up four goals on 12 shots faced. Adam Wilcox entered the net in relief of Wedgewood, but did not fare much better as he gave up five goals on 23 shots faced in just under 37 minutes of action.

Rochester did manage to add goals in the second and third period from Smith, Zach Redmond and Alex Nylander, but the Thunderbirds would add one more in the third to cap off the 9-4 win. Paul Thompson and Jacob MacDonald each scored two goals and added an assist in the Thunderbirds win, while Porter, Pilut and Brendan Guhle each notched a multi-point game to the Amerks.

The Amerks looked to rebound from their dismal efforts on Friday with a matchup against the Bruins the next night in Providence. After Justin Bailey opened the scoring with two goals in the second period, the Bruins answered back to tie the game in the third period and force overtime. In the bonus round of hockey, it was Boston Bruins' 2014 second round pick Ryan Donato who went coast-to-coast and put a shot past Wedgewood on the short side, blocker side to give Providence the extra point.

Bailey's goals came 6:49 apart as he netted his fourth and fifth goals of the season. His first goal came as he was the trailer man on a 3-on-1 rush. Bailey waited out goalie Zane McIntyre before he slid the puck through his five-hole at the 5:20 mark of the second. Then at the 12:09 mark, Pilut tried a shot towards the net, and Bailey was able to re-direct the puck past McIntyre to give Rochester the 2-0 lead.

However, the Amerks broke down defensively from there by not tracking players heading to the net, getting caught turning over the puck in the offensive zone or giving guys too much space to work with the puck. Those breakdowns left Wedgewood out to dry on the first couple of goals. He ended up stopping 27 of 30 shots faced in the loss.

Then on Sunday, the Amerks found themselves in a 3-1 hole as they started the third period against the Wolf Pack in Hartford.

The comeback started at the 5:28 mark of the period as Pilut picked up his third goal of the season on a shot from the point that got through a screen and in behind goalie Marek Mazanec. The Amerks then tied the game with 4:24 to play in regulation as Danny O'Regan followed up on a Rasmus Asplund shot and deposited the rebound in past Mazanec. Just like the parent Buffalo Sabres club the night before, Rochester completed the comeback just 46-seconds later as Redmond scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season to put the Amerks up 4-3. Redmond cashed in off a Pilut dump in to the corner as he ripped a slap shot that beat Mazanec high on the short side to give the Amerks the advantage.

Redmond did put the Amerks at a disadvantage as he was called for a delay of game penalty with 2:21 left to go, but Wilcox was strong in goal, stopping 35 of 38 shots faced, including 13 shots in the final 20 minutes.

With the weekend wrapped up, the Amerks enter the Thanksgiving holiday with an 11-4-2 record and 24 points, which puts them five points ahead of the Cleveland Monsters and Binghamton Devils in the North Division standings.

Here are some more notes with the Amerks:

  • The Amerks' power play, which was one of the best units to start the season, has gone stone cold. On Friday, they snapped an 0-for-25 drought dating back to October 26, but have gone 3-of-36 overall in that nine-game stretch. Overall, the Amerks sit 11th in the AHL on the man advantage.
  • Rochester's penalty kill has steadily improved since the start of the season. The Amerks have killed off 79.3-percent of their penalties, which is good for 21st in the AHL rankings.
  • Lawrence Pilut is tied for the AHL lead in scoring with 22 points (3+19) in 15 games played this season. He is also currently riding a seven-game point streak (1+8), and has at least a point in 13 of 15 games this season. Pilut is also on pace to shatter the AHL record for assists by a defenseman  (74 - Chris Snell) with 93. At the same time, he's projected to smash Snell's record for points by a defenseman in a season (96) with 108 points.
  • Zach Redmond is one point back of Pilut in AHL scoring, and is two goals off the league-lead behind Brooks Macek of the Chicago Wolves. At this pace, Redmond is projected to score 53 goals this season, which would shatter the AHL record for goals by a defenseman in a season (30 - John Slaney). Redmond is also on pace to score 93 points.
    • Redmond had 15 goals for the Amerks last season
  • Victor Olofsson returned to the lineup for the Amerks on Sunday against Hartford, picking up an assist in the win. The 23-year-old missed the three games prior with a lower-body injury.
  • After going goalless in his first ll games of the season, Justin Bailey has five goals in his last five games, and now has nine points in 16 games overall.
  • Rasmus Asplund picked up his first AHL goal in Sunday's win over the Wolf Pack, scoring at the 1:45 of the second period to tie the game at 1-1. Asplund also picked up his first multi-point game in the win, as well as the game's first star honor.
  • The Amerks got a boost of health over the weekend as Olofsson, Tyler Randell, Matt Tennyson and Jack Dougherty all returned to game action.

The Amerks return to game action on Friday night with a matchup against the Utica Comets at Blue Cross Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. and can be heard on 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester with Don Stevens and Ric Seiling on the call.

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