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Overtime brings it back home

By:Chamberlain Bauder


SYRACUSE, N.Y. --- Brett Murray scored the overtime game winner on a rebound in front of the Crunch net for a 4-3 Amerks win on Saturday night. It was his return to the line-up after a month away due to injury. The Amerks came back from a three-goal deficit in the third period and went to overtime for the third game in a row against Syracuse.


This time they needed the win to stay alive in the playoffs but the Amerks turned the pressure the other way and felt none of it at the second intermission.


"We, at that point didn't really have anything to lose so there wasn't really a lot of pressure on us," Biro said. "We were down 3-0, all we could do was go out, keep it simple and play and it felt like all the pressure was on them to kind of protect the lead."

Brandon Biro celebrating a goal on April 19 (Photo credit/Liam Hoffmann)

Rochester scored in the opening thirty seconds of the third and from there the Amerks couldn't be stopped. The first line scored all three of the regulation goals in the comeback. Brandon Biro, Linus Weissbach and Lukas Rousek found the chemistry they needed at just the right time to give their team a chance. Biro scored the first and last goals of the period, both at the Syracuse goal mouth. Rousek assisted on all three of the comeback tallies.


Joe Cecconi and Jeremy Davies were on the ice as the defensive pair for all three comeback goals, the defensemen assisted or scored on each of the three third-period markers.


"Cheeks (Cecconi) and Davo (Davies) are our top pair," Appert said. "they get the hardest assignments, they get the hardest minutes. It's not easy to play against the best players and still produce offense."


Devon Levi was at the heart of the comeback, through the first two periods he didn't have many chances to save the Amerks but when he did he was able to make the first save. The first two Crunch goals were second chance shots and broken plays, the third was a power play one-timer. In the third he made triple and quadruple saves just before the second and third Amerks goals late in the period after the momentum from their first goal was lost.

Levi warming up for a game against the Crunch on January 31 (Photo credit/Chamberlain Bauder)

"We're confident that he's gonna make the save when he needs to make it and definitely kept us in the game," Biro said. "Made a couple huge saves after it was 3-0 or even when it got to 3-3 they had a couple good looks and even overtime too. It's just nice you don't have to worry about it. He's back there, he's gonna do his thing, let him be and he's gonna be fantastic for us. He was great again tonight."


The Amerks were led in scoring by Biro (2+1) and Rousek (0+3), each with 3-point nights. Cecconi was the only other multipoint scorer for Rochester with a goal and an assist. Levi tallied 41 saves and a 93% save percentage in the win.

The Amerks first line on the bench (Biro, Rousek, Weissbach) on April 26 (Photo credit/Liam Hoffmann)

The first period started thirty minutes late due to a maintenance issue and it proved to slow the Amerks out of the gates. Syracuse took a quick lead four minutes in on a turnover that quickly turned into a broken play. It ended with Levi extended on his front outside of his crease and Cole Koepke putting the puck into the upper netting. The Amerks started to find life after the goal though, they got back to their beautiful fast passing but they also couldn't capitalize with good shots.


In the second the Amerks came out slow. They didn't get a shot on goal in the first eight minutes of the period. The Crunch did get shots and buried, it was a rebound by Waltteri Merela after again, Levi was exposed out of his goal after the initial save. While Levi had to make less saves than his last game in Syracuse thanks to his defenders, the Crunch still found the rebounds early in both periods.


In true "playoff hockey" fashion, the first penalty didn't come until almost seven minutes into the second period. Jeremy Davies was called for interference and the Crunch scored almost immediately on their first power play of the game. Alex Barre-Boulet hit the one-timer to make it 3-0 and the Crunch took that score into the second intermission.


"I'm not a big rara speech guy but on the way through immediately I just said to the guys to take a break, take a breath, we're gonna win this game, we'll be back in seven or eight minutes to talk about it," Appert said.

Biro during warmups on March 15 (Photo credit/Liam Hoffmann)

The Amerks started the third exactly how they needed to. Biro tipped a pass onto the crease by Cecconi and finally put the puck in the net behind Brandon Halverson. The period continued and Rochester was struggling to find momentum but it was gifted to them by Levi. Halfway through the period he made a desperation, swimming, triple save through the crease and it was clear that the rookie had the power to will his team back.


Cecconi took that on his shoulders and in their next possession in the offense zone, drove to the far post and scored just the same as Biro to make it a one goal game. In the opposite crease Halverson seemed to be creating just as much momentum though. He was making glove-stop after glove-stop and eventually the Crunch defenders were laying out and making crucial blocks. The key to the back of the net was Rousek's passing.


"Rousy could pass the puck through ten guys' skates out there if there were ten guys on the other team," Cecconi said. "I just get to my spot, Rousek is gonna make the play and that's exactly what he did.

Rousek pregame against Belleville on February 23 (Photo credit/Liam Hoffmann)

With five minutes to go, Biro buried again. This time spinning on the crease around his pass from Rousek and he buried it into the open part of the net. With the game tied Levi came up big again with a set of saves broken down in his butterfly but he never lost composure. It was playoff Amerks hockey as they nullified 55 minutes and put the prospect of five-on-five overtime back in everyone's head.


That's exactly where things went but the Amerks had all the momentum in the extra period. Levi came up big time again and again in the near twelve minutes of extra time but the overtime hero was the comeback kid Brett Murray. after working one-on-one with the strength and conditioning group for four weeks, he maintained his game shape and was ready when he was needed most. In front of the net to bury a rebound and keep the season alive.

Murray against the Crunch on January 31 (Photo credit/Chamberlain Bauder)

"It feels great to be back battling with my teammates," Murray said. "We've created such a special bond here and watching my brothers fight without me, it was difficult. But getting back in the lineup today and winning in such dramatic fashion, it only brings us closer and it felt great to be back."


Thanks to the win, the Amerks will be back as they play for the final game of their series against the Crunch on May 10 at Blue Cross Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:05 in the North Division Semifinals.

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