(Wilkes-Barre, PA)… Paul Thompson’s second goal of the game with just 14 seconds left in overtime lifted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 5-4 win over the Rochester Americans tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Despite the loss, which snaps Rochester’s three-game winning streak, the Amerks have now collected points in four straight games and moved into a first-place tie atop the Western Conference standings.
Skating 6-on-5 with 1:08 to play in regulation, Rochester erased a 4-2 deficit with back-to-back goals 43 seconds apart from Kevin Porter and Mark Mancari to force overtime, but the rally would fall short as Thompson converted on a breakaway opportunity in the closing seconds of the extra frame to give the Baby Pens their first win of the season.
Four different Amerks players recorded multi-point nights, including defenseman T.J. Brennan, who notched a pair of assists to extend his point streak to four games and remain tied for the scoring lead among AHL defensemen. Alex Biega also collected two assists while Porter and Mancari each finished with a goal and an assist. David Leggio turned aside 25 saves in the loss, marking his seventh straight start for the Amerks.
Thompson led the Penguins with a three-point night (2+1) en route to first star honors as Brad Thiessen stopped 30 of 34 shots he faced to earn his first win of the campaign.
Luke Adam gave the Amerks an early 1-0 lead as he opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the contest with his second goal of the season. Adam tracked down Mancari’s dump-in in the right corner, and after eluding a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defender, snuck the puck just inside the near post with a swift wrap-around goal to put Rochester ahead before the game was even a minute old. Biega earned his first of two assists on the play, giving the third-year defenseman three points in his last three games.
The Penguins answered back with a power-play goal from Thompson midway through the frame to knot the game at one apiece. With just seconds remaining in the man-advantage, Philippe Dupuis, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s top point-getter this season, fed a pass to an open Thompson, who was positioned to the left of the Rochester net. Leggio denied Thompson’s initial shot with a right pad save, but the Penguins forward would capitalize on his second chance with a well-placed shot under the crossbar for his first of three points on the night.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took its first lead of the game 3:14 into the middle frame as Warren Peters banged home Joey Mormina’s rebound to put the home team up 2-1. After a defensive miscue along the left half-wall led to a turnover, Mormina picked up the loose puck and sent a shot on goal through traffic that caromed off the skate of Riley Holzapfel and into the low slot, where Peters converted on the opportunity with a back-hander into the vacated net.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as Rochester countered with a goal from Evan Rankin at 6:54 of the second period to even the game at 2-2. Thiessen appeared to have made the save on Rankin’s bid from the right of net, but the puck trickled through the netminder’s legs and across the goal-line for the tying tally. Biega earned his second point of the night with an assist and rookie forward Zemgus Girgensons also notched a helper on Rankin’s second goal of the season. With the goal, Rankin now has points in four straight outings.
Eric Tangradi would help the Penguins regain the lead 4:33 into the third period, sweeping in Thompson’s rebound to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 3-2 advantage. Gaining entry into the Rochester zone, Thompson’s booming shot from the top of the right circle was knocked down by Leggio, but Tangradi was there to put back the rebound for the go-ahead goal.
Brian Gibbons extended Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lead to 4-2 late in the frame, but Rochester would rally with consecutive tallies 43 seconds apart from Porter and Mancari to force overtime.
The Amerks bring October to a close on Saturday, Oct. 27 as Rochester travels to the Glens Falls Civic Center to square off with the intrastate rival Adirondack Phantoms. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the first of four meetings on the season between the two teams and will be carried live on Sports 1280 AM WHTK.