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Amerks crunched again

By: Aiden Locke

ROCHESTER, NY --- A tough Wednesday night for the Amerks, it was their third straight loss to Syracuse after scoring the first two goals in the game. The Crunch scored five unanswered to secure a 5-2 win and their fifth win at BCA this season.

The Amerks' powerplay went 0-5 on the night while allowing a shorthanded goal. Syracuse cashed in a second special teams goal on their lone powerplay of the night as well. Forward Isak Rosen scored the first Rochester goal of the game, it was his 12th of the year and his second in back-to-back games. Forward and captain Michael Mersch scored his ninth of the season as well. Forward Jiri Kulich assisted on Rosen's goal in his return after a five-game absence. Forward Brett Murray bagged his 13th assist of the season on the Mersch goal, and Ethan Prow got his 10th assist of the season on the Mersch goal as well.

#18 Isak Rosen and #25 Jiri Kulich skating together on Feb. 28, 2024. Photo Credit: Rochester Americans

"We need to be good in those tight games," Rosen said. "Especially as we get closer to the playoffs, I think we just need to find some more good feelings when we have a lead and just try and play off that.

The scoreline doesn't tell the full story of the game. For the first 50 minutes, the game was tightly contested. The Amerks were able to control the tempo and play their game during the opening period. The game was physical and gritty from start to finish but Rochester was dictating the play early on. Rosen's goal halfway through the opening period was enough to send Rochester into the first intermission with a lead.

"It's hard to win one to nothing or 2-1," Amerks head coach Seth Appert said. "They're a really good team with an extremely deep lineup."

This game saw Devon Levi back between the pipes for Rochester. He entered the game 6-3-3 with a 2.48 GAA and a .928 SV% in 12 appearances in the red, white and blue. Levi made 28 saves on 32 shots faced. Matt Tomkins was the choice in goal for Syracuse. He entered tonight 10-9-1 with a 2.71 GAA and a .899 SV%. Tompkins made 17 saves on 19 shots faced.

#27 Devon Levi handling the puck on Feb. 28 2024. Photo credit: Rochester Americans

Syracuse forward Alex Barre-Boulet scored his second goal of the season in just his second game to open the goal-scoring for the Crunch. Syracuse's second goal came off the flukey play on the powerplay. A deflected shot bounced off the chest of forward Jack Finley on the backdoor and snuck behind Levi. Going into the second break the game was tied 2-2.

"Their first two goals to get back in it were a little bit fortuitous," Appert said. "Credit to them for earning those bounces, then you're in the third period with ten minutes in a tie game and anything can happen."

The third period is where the game got away from Rochester. Forward Gabriel Dumont scored his 11th goal of the year on what would be the game-winning goal in the middle of the third period. Forward Shawn Element scored on a shorthanded rush off an Amerks turnover to extend the Syracuse lead. Rochester remains tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals allowed with 11. The Crunch remain undefeated at Blue Cross Arena this season with a 5-0 record in Rochester.

"They're obviously a good team," Mersch said. "They're well structured and play a consistent game the entire way."

#28 Michael Mersch celebrating his goal on Feb. 28, 2024. Photo credit: Rochester Americans

Rochester now shifts their focus to a doubleheader in Belleville on Friday and Saturday. Their last two matchups with the Senators both ended in losses. The first was a 4-1 loss at home on Wednesday Feb. 21. The second, a 2-1 shootout loss also in BCA on Friday Feb. 23. Rochester currently sits 24-19-6-2 good for 56 points and fifth in the North Division.

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