By: Brayden Peters
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Americans couldn't gift their fans a win before Christmas, as they fell 6-3 to the Providence Bruins. As a matter of fact, this month of December hasn't been that festive for Rochester. They have gone 2-5-1 this month so far and still have four games left to go before the new year.
The first period was low scoring, but Rochester moved the puck effectively. In the offensive zone, they kept the Bruins' defense on their toes and took many shots at goalie Michael DiPietro, but he stayed strong in net. As for Providence, they barely had any time with the puck outside of being on the power play twice. The Americans defense didn't allow them to attack the slot much and forced a plethora of turnovers.
However, the Bruins were able to break the bank with Williamsville native Trevor Kuntar scoring to put the team up 1-0. Being from Western New York, it was a special night for the local right winger.
"It was really nice," Kuntar said. "I got to go home for dinner yesterday, which was nice about an hour away. I had a lot of family and friends here so it was nice to get a win in front of them."
Rochester kept applying the offensive pressure on Providence, thought. With almost three minutes left to go in the first period, the Americans responded to the Bruins' goal with forward Filip Cederqvist recording his first goal of the season.
"I was trying to move the puck up the ice," Cederqvist said. "Rousy (Lucas Rousek) had a great pass to me and just had to shoot it."
Things started to change in the second period. Although the Americans broke the tie with a goal from forward Brett Murray, the Bruins offensive found its rhythm. They began to find cracks in the Americans' defense and goalie Devin Cooley's play, and exposed them with an up-tempo offense. The Bruins' goal leader Georgii Merkulov buried one to tie the game and with a goal from forward Anthony Richard, Providence was going into the third up 3-2.
Not only did the Americans' defense seem to struggle more, but the offense experienced the same. They kept firing shots at DiPietro, but with his incredible play, they couldn't find the back of the net much.
The third period brought more of the same as the second. Providence kept rolling on offense with forwards Jesper Boqvist and Merkulov picking up two goals to make it a 5-2 game. With the game seemingly out of reach, Americans' forward Linus Weissbach managed to score on a breakaway.
This came after Isak Rosen fed Weissbach with a long, hard pass from the neutral zone. Weissbach was happy to score as it was his third goal in fifteen games.
"Kind of just opening up," Weissbach said. "Made a little head fake and then he kind of moved over, so it felt good to score a goal. I haven't scored in a while."
Unfortunately, even with the Weissbach goal firing up the Americans' bench, this would be their last goal for the game as DiPietro constantly denied their shots. To put the game away, Richard recorded his second goal of the game on an empty net to get Providence a 6-3 win.
Overall, Rochester showed a lot of promise on offense, but struggled to take advantage of multiple opportunities. As for the defense, they did solid on the penalty kill, giving up one goal on three power plays. This was after they gave up four power play goals to the Cleveland Monsters on Wednesday. However, Cooley and the defense gave up too many big scoring chances. Defense is something Americans' head coach Seth Appert wants to focus on.
"We have to be more physically committed," Appert said. "This is what the process we went through last year. We weren't that hard to play against the first half of the year last year...We became a hard team to play against that was strong enough defensively to win in the playoffs..."
Rochester will play tomorrow against the Syracuse Crunch. The Crunch are statistically ranked eighth in the AHL with a 15-9-1-2 record. Although the Americans are on a three game losing streak, Cederqvist does not feel that the team needs to make major changes.
"I don't think we need to change a lot," Cederqvist said. "I think we are playing hard right now...I think we are on the right path."
With the loss, the Americans drop to 12-10-2-1 while the Bruins improve to 14-11-2-2. Rochester will be on the road against the Crunch tomorrow. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.