Amerks fall in home opener
By: Chamberlain Bauder
ROCHESTER, N.Y. --- The Rochester Americans fell in overtime to the Bridgeport Islanders 4-3 in their home opener at Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks came back from down 2-0 and eventually took a 3-2 lead in the third period. A late penalty kill gave Bridgeport the space they needed to find the equalizer. They took the win 21 seconds into OT. Linus Weissbach led Rochester in scoring with a goal and an assist. Devin Cooley was between the pipes for the Amerks, he posted 38 saves on 42 shots for a .905 save percentage.
"As much as you talk about pressure and as much as you tell a team what's coming and show them video and try to simulate in practice, they're a big old heavy heavy team," Appert said about the slow start for the young Amerks. "Practice doesn't simulate being punched in the mouth."
Bridgeport was the dominant team in the first period, they established their veteran presence through physicality and strong play on the puck. The first action of the game was not on the scoreboard but instead a hit near center ice. Brandon Biro was checked in the middle of the ice and his cut from Buffalo preseason reopened.
"These stitches came out a couple days ago," Biro said. "It's pretty brutal but it just sucked that it was open enough I needed stitches again."
He came back to the game in the second with a full cage.
The Amerks appeared lost through much of the first period. The first Islanders goal came before the two minute mark of the period and Bridgeport settled in quickly. They scored again ten minutes later, after Cooley made two saves he couldn't get to the third and the Islanders were up 2-0. The first opportunity for Rochester came moments later as they went onto the power play for the first time of the season. after a minute it became a 5-3 and yet, the Amerks still could not find the back of the net.
The Amerks looked different in the second. Biro was back on the bench and the Rochester forecheck was in full swing. The Amerks were able to double the Islanders shots and they kept Bridgeport from setting up in the offensive zone through most of the frame. Weissbach scored the first goal of the season for Rochester. He snuck a one time shot behind the Bridgeport net minder in the first two minutes of the period. The feed came from rookie defenseman Nikita Novikov.
"Novikov, yeah lovely play on that goal." Weissbach said about his feed. "Kind of got our team fired up a bit to make a push back."
The Amerks bookended their forechecking period with goals. Isak Rosen tied things up after he deflected Ethan Prows shot with four seconds left in the period.
The Amerks kept that pressure going as they went into the third but it didn't last long. Brandon Biro scored on the right wing just over eight minutes in. Ryan Johnson's secondary assist was the first point of his professional career. Biro's goal was one of only six Rochester shots on goal in the third period. The islanders puck dominance started to emerge again in the third. A tough interference call on Brandon Biro sent the Islanders on the man advantage they needed and they scored in the second minute of the power play.
"It's never called," Appert said when asked about the call on Biro. "The amount of interference that happened in that game, the slashing the holding, but they called it. We've got to execute on the penalty kill."
Time ticked down on regulation and neither team looked poised for a scoring chance. Each team had two shots on goal in the final four minutes but neither found home. That wasn't the case for overtime.
Rochester sent out Jeremy Davies, Biro and Rosen for the extra period. The sophomore winger, who scored in the second, was the one to miss his assignment. Russian Iskhakov scored his second of the game on an open shot 21 seconds into OT and Bridgeport took the win.
Rochester will need a short memory as they head to Toronto tomorrow to take on the Marlies.
"The way we fought back" Weissbach said about carrying momentum into tomorrow. "As the game went on we started feeling ourselves a little bit and I think we battled hard to come back in the game and that's what we've got to take with us."