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Kulich OT one-T on Thanksgiving Eve

Updated: Feb 12

By: Liam Hoffmann

ROCHESTER, NY-- The Rochester Amerks were back at Blue Cross Arena for the first time in 12 days Wednesday night to face the Laval Rocket. In a back-and-forth game the whole way, Rochester prevailed winning 4-3 in overtime. Jiri Kulich delivered his third overtime game-winner of the season and second against Laval to get the Amerks a win on the eve of Thanksgiving.

Linus Weissbach was back in the lineup for Rochester for the first time since October 20, as the Amerks continue to get healthier. Weissbach brought fresh legs and a fast game to a pair of high prospects for Rochester in Kulich and Rosen.

"It's speed," Amerks head coach Seth Appert said. "Like all guys, when they come back from a month off, the timing's a little off. You can only simulate so much in rehab skates, and a few practices simulate it better, but a game is different...just to have his presence back, and that speed, was great to have."

Early on, Rochester controlled time of possession with effective defensive stick work that kept the puck out of Laval's control. The puck movement was on full display for Rochester's offense and they generated good looks early and often. A Nolan Yaremko one-on-one chance off the rush was the first great look for Laval, but a great save from Dustin Tokarski started what would be a good night for the goalie. Jakub Dobeš was between the sticks across the ice for the Rocket, he deterred the Americans for a majority of the night.

Michael Mersch and Brandon Biro. Photo Credit: Chamberlain Bauder, 89.1 The Point

After 12 minutes, each team stood with six shots on goal and there was yet to be a penalty in the game. All night, the officials were content to let play carry on and keep the whistles tucked away.

After Tokarski lost his stick in a sprawling save with 12 and a half minutes gone, Alex-Olivier Voyer struck for the Rocket, giving them the early advantage.

"I thought we were really good for 10-12 minutes, I thought they outplayed us for the next 30," Appert said. "I thought that they just had a little bit more bite."

Lukas Rousek kicks up the puck. Photo Credit: Chamberlain Bauder, 89.1 The Point

Five minutes later, after Nicolas Beaudin headed to the box for tripping. Halfway through the Laval penalty kill Joel Armia found the puck at his feet with all five Amerks to his back. He drove in and scored off the rush shorthanded to extend the lead. Justin Richards soon answered back after the only defender of the one-on-one break, Brady Keeper, saw his stick snap.

Justin Richards scoring on the breakaway for the Amerks first goal Photo Credit: Chamberlain Bauder, 89.1 The Point

With only a minute gone in period two, things got stuffy near the Rocket net. Dobeš kept things dialed in at first, but eventually Brandon Biro snuck the puck around his back and knotted things at two. The second began much like the first, the puck lived in Laval's end of the ice.

Brandon Biro alongside the Amerks bench. Photo Credit: Chamberlain Bauder, 89.1 The Point

A theme of the contest was that Laval clearly came to town with beating Rochester up in mind. It's no surprise scrums broke out throughout the game seeing as four of the Amerks' first 15 games of the season have come against the Rocket. Both sides are getting to know each other quite well.

"I think we're doing a pretty good job of staying kind of even-keeled throughout the game, kind of just holding emotions back sometimes when we're not getting a call or we're not getting a goal here and there," Weissbach said.

The Amerks and the Rocket get into it. Photo Credit: Chamberlain Bauder, 89.1 The Point

The second period continued with an uptick in Laval pressure. Twice, in rapid succession, Nathan Légaré flipped a shot up right into the glove of Tokarski. Also in the second was very active defense from Zach Metsa that helped keep the back of the net clean. He and Jeremy Davies continued to gain chemistry through their fifth game as a defensive pair.

Viktor Neuchev gained the lead for Rochester just before the seven minute mark of period three. He split two defenders and smashed the puck into the top left corner. Minutes later, Beaudin found a spot away from the bulk of the skaters in Rochester's defensive zone and put the puck right behind Tokarski to make things even once more.

Victor Neuchev following his goal Photo Credit: Chamberlain Bauder, 89.1 The Point

Légaré saw a great opportunity in the final minute off the rush but it rattled off the left post. Kulich also had a chance with only seconds left but couldn't find the angle. The Amerks headed to overtime for the sixth time this year.

Two minutes into the extra frame, Metsa drove to the net for a shot and couldn't find the far post. Sean Farrell's stick did find Metsa's skate however, sending the defenseman tumbling and the Amerks to the power play. Seconds into the power play it was clear who would score. Kulich was lined up for his one-timer with Biro and Rosen feeding him from the top. The first shot he was able to get off on goal found the back of the net. Despite the accuracy from the young European he wasn't too satisfied.

"My one-timer, these last five games, has sucked," Kulich said. "That was a bad shot."

Jiri Kulich back to back with William Trudeau. Photo Credit: Chamberlain Bauder, 89.1 The Point

The Amerks picked up another two points amidst an 11-game streak of facing North Division opponents. Laval falls to last place in the division after the loss. The two sides will see each other once more this week on Friday evening, back at Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m.

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