ROCHESTER, NY --- A heated AHL North Division battle sees the Rochester American's come away victorious. The Amerks got their second straight win against the Laval Rocket on Friday night.
Blue Cross Arena saw a goaltender battle of Devin Cooley (4.44 GAA, .877 SV%) for Rochester, and Strauss Mann (3.65 GAA, .876 SV%). Cooley made just his third start in November in the 3-2 OTW vs Laval.
"That's the best he's looked," Amerks head coach Seth Appert said. "He works extremely hard and he's been working hard at finding his game." "That's as calm and as in control as we've seen all year."
BCA was packed for this Black Friday matchup which started fairly slow. Rochester came out a bit sloppy and careless with the puck in the first half of the opening period. Once the Amerks settled in they were able to generate multiple chances in the later stages of period one. Both teams would get powerplay chances in the first, both would come up empty. The struggling Amerks powerplay unit would generate multiple chances which were turned away by Mann.
The first goal of the game would come with just 0.5 seconds remaining in the first period. Defenseman Jermey Davies would cut inside, settle in the slot and rip a last-ditch effort at the net. The shot found its way past Mann on the low-blocker side to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
"I got some traffic in front and you know made my way through a couple bodies and luckily, you know a second later and it would've been no goal so thankful for the timing there," Amerks defensemen Jermey Davies said.
Laval went into the locker room outshooting Rochester 13-9 after the first period.
Laval center Jan Mysak got the Rocket on the board a quarter of the way through period two with a scrappy goal. He tapped in a rebound after a multi-body battle out in front of goal. Devin Cooley had made 17 straight saves until that goal. Seven minutes later Amerks center Mason Jobst would score on the powerplay.
Jobst got himself a tap-in goal after a pass to redirect aimed for Amerks captain Michael Mersch ended up right on the doorstep. Mann was out of position due to the ongoing battle in front of the leading to plenty of open net for Josbt who was in the right place at the right time. Amerks center Jiri Kulich initated the play and was credited his second assist on the night with that goal.
"They're more competitive on the puck than they've ever been," Appert said "They're drivers right now and they earned that which is awesome."
Laval would tie the game back up just two minutes later. Rocket center Riley Kidney beat Devin Cooley to the low blocker side off the rush.
Devin Cooley was dominate in this game dealing with massive amounts of pressure all game long from Laval. Rochester also stepped on defensive to limit high quality chances for the Rocket offense which aims to shoot the puck as much as possible.
"They get a lot of shots," Appert said. "That's how they play, they shoot the puck from everywhere, they put you in some chaos, they're first in expected goals for a reason."
This high pace game wouldn't settle down in the third period either. A physical battle went down to the very last second.
Rochester had a great scoring chance in the third period on the powerplay. They controlled the puck in the Laval zone for the entire two-minute penalty. Neither side was even able to make a line change during that powerplay early in the third period. Mann would turn away a barrage of shots to keep the game tied.
The third period would go back and forth with both goaltenders making save after save.
"That's life in the North Division," Appert said. "Every game is tooth and nail, that's North Division hockey which is great."
Overtime would go down to the final seven seconds where Sabers prospect Isek Rosen would find a winner off a line change for Rochester. His three-on-three line would come on in the final moments of the frame. Jobst sat at the Laval blue line waiting for a breakout pass from defenseman Kale Clague. Jobst would dish to Rosen who flew into the offensive zone to give himself a one-on-one look with Mann, which he buried with a backhander to give Rochester the win with just seven seconds remaining in overtime.