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Hot start not enough for Amerks in 4-3 OT loss to Crunch

Remi Elie (center) celebrates his first-period goal during Wednesday night's game against the Syracuse Crunch. Wednesday was Elie's 300th career game as a pro (Photo Courtesy of the Rochester Americans).

ROCHESTER, N.Y. --- Coming off a 5-3 win over Syracuse on Saturday, the Rochester Americans looked to have a solid start on Wednesday evening. But after securing a 2-0 lead early, the Amerks folded in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Crunch from the Blue Cross Arena.

Early in the first period, the Amerks gave Crunch goalie Samuel Montembeault all he could handle. Just six minutes in, Dalton Smith and Dominic Franco created a 2-1 breakaway. And with nifty passing, Smith buried the puck past Montembeault for his first goal of the season, giving Rochester a 1-0 lead.

While Smith got credit for the goal, he credits Franco for creating the opportunity.

"That was all Franco. He made a great effort and then made a great pass, and I was at the right place at the right time. But hats off to Dom, he made 95% of the effort," Franco said.

But the Americans were not done yet in the period. About two minutes later, Remi Elie grabbed a loose puck off a faceoff in the Syracuse zone. And with both knees on the ice, Elie used all his upper body strength to slide it past Montembault, extending Rochester's lead, 2-0.

Elie's goal also came on a special occasion, as the 25-year-old appeared in his 300th career game.

With all the momentum in the world, the Amerks looked to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Mitchell Stephens had other plans for the Crunch, pushing the puck past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen with 44 seconds to go in the period, trimming Rochester's lead to one.

Looking past the late mistake, the Amerks completely outplayed Syracuse in the period, outshooting the Crunch 14-5 and being more physical.

But the second period was a different story for Rochester. The Amerks were sloppy in the defensive end with three penalties in the period alone. And the third one came back to bite, as Michael Mersch's hooking penalty with less than two minutes in the period allowed Taylor Raddysh to score, tying the game at two.

Amerks head coach Seth Appert said mistakers were the principal issue in the second period.

"There were some poor puck decisions, and I thought we had some individual mistakes which led them to have the puck for too long," Appert said.

With the game tied at two, Rochester hoped to retake the momentum. However, Syracuse snatched it early in the third period. Just 44 seconds in, Alex Green scored his first of the year, giving the Crunch their first lead of the evening, 3-2.

With the momentum gone, Rochester needed a spark. And Mattias Samuelsson made it happen with his second goal of the season, tying the game at three. With neither team giving an inch, 60 minutes was not enough to settle the I-90 rivalry.

Syracuse and Rochester had matched up in overtime twice this season, with both splitting 4-3 results. But it took the lone shot on goal to seal the victory for the Crunch, as Alex Barre-Boulet tucked the puck past the right post and the outstretched leg of Luukkonen.

With the loss, Rochester is now 4-4 on the season against the Crunch. But the Amerks have held their own against Syracuse, recording points in six of eight matchups with their thruway foe.

Rochester has two games this weekend, including a road matchup with Utica on Friday. Then on Saturday, the Amerks host the Cleveland Monsters at 6:05 p.m.

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