Friday night ice
ROCHESTER, NY--- The Rochester Americans squared off against the Utica Comets on Friday night at Blue Cross Arena. A shorthanded Rochester escaped with a close win. Amerks head coach Seth Appert has constantly been shaking up his lines recently, not just due to injuries, but roster movement within the system as well. The revolving door that is the Amerks forward core at the moment were able to score four goals and win the game 4-3 after a complete team effort.
"You need depth scoring," Appert said. "It can't just be one line and we have some really good players out of our lineup and we needed some other guys to step up offensively, and they did."
The Amerks celebrated hockey fights cancer night with special lavender and white jersey which have been going through auctions throughout the week in order to support cancer fighting organizations.
The Amerks got out to a fast start in the first period. They controlled the pace of play and were able to apply a lot of pressure early in the period. Rochester's two first period goals would come right around the mid-way mark of period one curtesy of Riley Fiddler-Schultz and Christoper Brown. The two forwards were just called up to Rochester this week from the ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen. Fiddler-Schultz would score shorthanded coming off a breakaway, while Brown's goal was a put back off a rebound on the rush.
"Anytime you're able to contribute offensively it's a pretty special night, so just pretty thankful and hopeful we can keep going here down the road," Fiddler-Schultz said.
Dustin Tokarski got his third start in net of the season for Rochester. He faced a lot of early pressure and coped well battling through traffic in front of his net. He pitched a shutout through the first two periods before Utica was finally able to find paydirt. The shot total after the first 20 minutes sat 14-12 in favor of Rochester.
"He was great," Appert said. "He allowed us to get a lead you know, which was important in a game like this when you have so many guys out as we have. You don't want to chase the game and he had a calming presence."
The second period was a slower one. Both teams anchored down defensively, and it was a battle of wits through the middle frame. Multiple quality scoring chances were denied from Comets goaltender Isaac Poulter who made his sixth start of the season, coming into this matchup he held a 1.87 GAA and a .942 save percentage. Poulter would suffer his first regulation loss of the season.
The third period was a back-and-forth affair with five goals split between the two teams as the offenses finally got back going after a silenced second period. Defenseman Zach Metsa would score his first goal of the season to open the goal scoring in the third period. Metsa sat at the back door away from play on the right-hand side of the net, when forward Isak Rosen fed a beautiful back hand pass through the slot past multiple defenders directly to Metsa stick. Metsa had nothing but open net to shoot at and he would bury it to push the lead to three just 57 seconds into the third period.
"It was obviously big for us to extend our lead, but I don't really know how Rosen got it back to me," Metsa said. It felt like there was three pairs of skates that ran between us, we kind of made eye contact and you know he's just so good and he's able to make those plays."
The Comets would fight back scoring two unanswered goals to push the game to 3-2. The first goal came from forward Kyle Criscuolo who find the back of the net on the penalty kill. Rochester has surrendered five shorthanded goals in just 11 games, which is the second highest tally in the entire AHL.
The second Utica goal came from defenseman Daniil Misyul, his first on the season. Damien Giroux would score the eventual game winner with just 5:13 seconds left to play in the third period. Giroux won a battle in front of the net and made a diving hack at the puck off a rebound to sneak it home and secure the two points for Rochester.
"It's hard to score in professional hockey and you got to get to the areas where goals are going to be scored," Giroux said. "At the end of the day it's about winning a battle in front of the net and that's the difference between winning or losing a game."
Utica would apply late pressure as forward Joe Gambardella would find the Comets third goal with just 24.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Rochester would hold on for those last few moments to secure just their fourth regulation win on the young season.
Rochester currently sits 7-2-2 for14 points after the victory, while Utica falls to 3-4-2 for eight points. These two teams will go back at one another on Saturday night in Utica.