It took overtime, but Jason Akeson's game-winning goal Saturday completed a two-game weekend sweep for the Rochester Americans over the St. John's IceCaps at Mile One Centre. The Amerks beat the IceCaps 3-1 on Friday before Akeson clinched a 3-2 victory on Saturday.
Combine those wins with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Utica Comets at Blue Cross Arena last Wednesday and Rochester has captured five points in its last three games.
An especially promising factoid from that stretch is that nine different Amerks scored in those three games. Matt Donovan, Daniel Catenacci and Evan Rodrigues tallied on Wednesday; Philip Varone, Jerry D'Amigo and Colby Robak scored on Friday; and Jerome Leduc, Tim Schaller and Akeson scored on Saturday.
Against Utica, the Amerks trailed 1-0 entering what became a five-goal second period. Comets defenseman Taylor Fedun was called for a holding penalty in the final minute of the first, setting the stage for Donovan's game-tying power-play goal 1:01 into the second, his first of the season.
The Comets quickly found themselves back in the box, this time when Andrey Pedan was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking. Catenacci scored his third goal of the season on the ensuing power play to give Rochester a 2-1 lead 4:09 into the second period.
Fedun and Pedan atoned for their penalties when they connected on Utica's second goal five minutes later, but it took only 50 seconds after that for Rodrigues to regain the lead for Rochester with a wrister that banked in off the cross bar.
Unfortunately for the Amerks, the Comets had one more goal left in them. Alex Friesen scored for Utica with 1:21 remaining in the second to tie the game 3-3. Neither team scored in the third period or in an overtime period in which they traded nine shots (five by Rochester).
Amerks goaltender Andrey Makarov made 37 saves on 40 shots, including four in overtime, but was beat twice in the shootout. Rochester was held scoreless and Utica claimed the victory.
Jerry D'Amigo broke a 1-1 tie with 1:02 remaining in regulation at St. John's on Friday, burying a pass across the crease from Catenacci for the deciding goal in the win over the IceCaps. Robak scored on an empty net 34 seconds later to put the game out of reach.
Amerks goaltender Nathan Lieuwen, who made 38 saves on 39 shots, kept his team in the game during a lopsided first period. Rochester was outshot 21-4 in the first but came out of the period trailing only 1-0 on a goal from IceCaps forward Jacob de la Rose.
The Amerks outshot St. John's in each of the next two periods and Varone scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season to tie the game with 9:19 remaining in the second.
The victory also marked a milestone for Amerks coach Randy Cunneyworth, who coached his 744th game in the American Hockey League to surpass Robbie Ftorek for sixth place on the League's all-time list.
Cunneyworth's 318 wins as coach of the Amerks ranks second in the organization's history, just 15 behind John Van Boxmeer's career total of 333.
One night after he scored the go-ahead goal late for Rochester, D'Amigo tallied a helper on Schaller's game-tying goal in the third period on Saturday. The forward retrieved the puck in the left corner and backhanded a pass to Schaller in the high slot, who ripped it home for a 2-2 tie with 9:43 remaining.
Skating down the left-wing side, Akeson roofed the game-winner 1:12 into overtime.
Lieuwen made 26 saves on 28 shots in the victory.
1. Jason Akeson 16 points (5+11)
2. Cal O'Reilly 14 points (3+11)
3. Philip Varone 13 points (9+4)
4. Jean Dupuy 11 points (2+9)
5. Nicholas Baptiste 10 points (4+6)
1. Nathan Lieuwen 7-4-0, 3.25 GAA, 325 saves, .903 save percentage
2. Andrey Makarov 4-5-1, 3.29 GAA, 350 saves, .902 save percentage
The Amerks will face the Comets again on Wednesday in a 7 p.m. contest at Utica Memorial Auditorium. Pregame coverage for that game can be found at Amerks.com.
Afterward, Rochester will return home for another back-to-back swing at Blue Cross Arena as the Amerks host the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday at 7:05 p.m. and the Albany Devils on Saturday at 7:35 p.m.
Friday's game can be seen on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel on HD channels 323 and 26 in Rochester and HD channel 323 in Buffalo. All games can be heard on Fox Sports 1280 in Rochester.
Saturday will also mark the Amerks' 12 Days of Hockey Celebration, a holiday-themed game with pregame music, giveaways and a visit from Santa. Tickets for that game and all other Amerks games can be purchased here.