Amerks Take the W in "Crunch" Time
ROCHESTER, N.Y. --- The Blue Cross Arena hosted a game to watch on Friday October 21st if you were a Rochester Americans fan. It appeared to be a slow and physical hockey game, where Rochester Captain Michael Mersch's absence was felt, in the first two periods that is. The third exploded for Rochester and they were able to tally their third win in four games as newly promoted assistant captain Brett Murray scored the game winner with 2.9 seconds left. Winger, Linus Weissbach, led the way for Rochester scoring two of their three third period goals and notching an assist on the game winner. Brandon Biro tallied two primary assists including the game winner from the starting center position. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had 17 saves on 20 shots in his fourth start for Rochester, keeping The Amerks alive in the second period.
In contrast to their last home game the first period of this one featured a bit less action, it almost looked quite similar though as Rochester moved to the power play just 3:43 into the period. They weren't able to capitalize, in fact nobody was able to find the back of the net until 13:48 into the period when Tyson Kozak notched the first goal of his professional career. Following a beautiful trip from end to end by Jiri Kulich, that brought memories of JJ Peterka's break away ability from last year back to Rochester, his shot deflected off the pads of Max Legace and Kozak was there to pick up the trash.
Rochester appeared to be in complete control with momentum on their side until they fell victim to an interference call with just over a minute to play in the period. Rochester looked to be in the clear for the period but Darren Radish had other ideas, putting one into the back of the net from the point with 7 seconds to go in the period. As the the second began it proved to be more of the first, two physical teams battling it out on the ice and struggling to put it in net. The second period was not a highlight on the day for Rochester, featuring a decent portion of it on the penalty kill. Syracuse did take the lead though, however it was not on the power play. Gemel Smith found the back of the net at 8:40 in the second period and by then Syracuse was in full control. In the dying moments of the period, Linus Weissbach ended up being tripped up and the Amerks received a power play to take into the third, giving a much needed boost to the Rochester bench.
The third period, as stated, started on the power play for Rochester. That being said they didn't find the equalizer until 5:28 into the period. It was on the power play, Linus Weissbach and Filip cederqvist passed back and forth right next to goal enough times for Crunch net minder Max Legace to lose the puck and Weissbach put it in the top of the net. The Amerks seemed to be rolling from their as Weissbach scored another dirty goal from inside the mouth of the Syracuse defense. in three minutes Rochester flipped a 1-2 deficit to a 3-2 lead. The arena was bumping and all Rochester had to do was play 12 more minutes of good defensive hockey.
Four minutes into their good defensive hockey things started to shift and neither team looked to have momentum on their side. that was cemented as Gabriel Fortier scored his first goal of the season and The Crunch tied the game at three a piece 12:37 into the period. Both teams scratched back and forth showing the true physicality of their rivalry all the way to the end. Until 2.9 seconds were left on the clock, as newly minted assistant captain, Brett Murray sealed the victory for Rochester with a rebound goal on the inside, like they scored all night.
The Amerks will hope to hold onto that ending momentum as they travel to Syracuse now for a home to home double header. Puck drop at 7:00 p.m. at The Upstate Medical University Arena.