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Senators outlast Amerks

By: Aiden Locke

ROCHESTER, NY--- The Rochester Americans fell late in the third 4-1 to the Belleville Senators at home on Wednesday. The Amerks were tied 1-1 entering the third period but three goals in six minutes would send the Senators home with the win. Mason Jobst scored the lone goal for the Amerks with Lukas Rousek and Linus Weissbach. Devon Levi posted 32 saves in net.

"Just felt like a playoff game," Amerks head coach Seth Appert Said. "There was not a lot of space, it was heavy, it was physical. You had to work for every chance from a five-on-five perspective on both sides."

The North Division is as competitive as they come in professional sports. Rochester certainly felt that last year having to play "playoff hockey" from February onward. This year they find themselves in a similar situation with just 12 points separating second and last place in the North.

Amerks forward Brandon Biro #10 and Senators forward Josh Currie #18 taking a faceoff. Feb 21 2024. Photo credit: Rochester Americans.

Three of the four Belleville goals came in the middle or later parts of the third period. The first 50 minutes both teams were tightly contested. Belleville's shot blocking and scrappy mentality in front of the net helped keep a clean sheet until the halfway mark of the second period. Rochester has only found the back of the net twice in regulation over their past two contests.

"We need to score, it's hard to score five-on-five goals," Appert said. "You need to get to the front of the net more, they're big defensively, they're physical, they're heavy box outs, your getting cross checked in the face and you just need to fight through it."

Levi was coming off a 52 save performance in Toronto on Monday. Coming into the game Levi posted a 6-2-2-0 record, with a 2.38 GAA and a .930 SV% He was key in keeping Rochester in it until the final frame.

Amerks goaltender Devon Levi #27 between the pipes against Belleville. Feb. 21 2024. Photo credit: Rochester Americans.

"He's great," Jobst said about the young net minder. "He's been really good for us. That game in Toronto he absolutely stole two points for us and tonight he was really good, we kind of let him down late there in the third unfortunately."

In net for Belleville was Mads Sogaard who entered the night 22-7-2-2 with a 2.52 GAA and a .917 SV%. Sogaard made numerous big saves and kept his composure throughout the night to turn away multiple quality chances for Rochester. Sogaard stopped 27 of 28 shots faced on the night.

Senators goaltender Mads Sogaard #40 making a save. Feb. 21 2024. Photo credit: Rochester Americans.

The powerplay, although scoring a goal tonight, going one for four continues be a concern for the Amerks. Rochester gave up a shorthanded goal and now lead the league in that department with ten shorthanded goals surrendered.

"Too cute, that was the message after the first," Appert said. "Obviously we went out and scored a powerplay goal, there's a lot of skilled players on these two units and sometimes skilled players want to be too cute."

Jobst scored the lone Amerks goal on the powerplay in the middle of the second period. Weissbach was set up for a one-timer on the right wing which was fanned wide. The puck fell to Rousek who put a shot on net where Jobst was sitting ready to put the rebound home to tie the game up.

Amerks forwards Brett Murray #81 and Lukas Rousek #11 celebrating Mason Jobst's #26 goal against Belleville Feb. 21 2024. Photo credit: Rochester Americans.

"They want us to have more of a shooting mentality," Jobst said. "We have a tendency to move it around the perimeter a little much or trying to squeeze it in when it's really not there or trying to find a seem pass when it's really not there, it's something we talk about but without much time to practice right now it's kind of hard to work on those things."

North Division hockey in the AHL provides challenges night in, night out and the difficulty of their schedule is no mystery, nor something Rochester shies away from.

A scrum in front of the Amerks net. Feb. 21 2024. Photo credit: Rochester Americans.

"That's the great thing about playing division matches, you get to play them over and over so we get another chance at these guys of Friday," Jobst said.

Rochester's most recent North Division double header came against the Syracuse Crunch on Feb. 9 and 10, the Amerks lost both games 3-2 in overtime. This time around with Belleville, both games with be played at Blue Cross Arena compared to the split in Rochester and Syracuse two weeks ago. This time of year every point matters in the standings so Rochester will look to make up for tonights loss next time out.

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