(Hamilton, ON)… Rookie forward Brian Flynn scored a pair of goals and first-year netminder Connor Knapp made 30 saves in his professional debut as the Rochester Americans dropped a 4-3 decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the second leg of a home-and-home series between the North Division rivals Saturday night at Copps Coliseum.
Flynn staked Rochester to a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes of play, but the Bulldogs would score four unanswered third period goals, including the game-winner from Blake Geoffrion, to complete the late-game rally. It would mark the second game in as many nights Hamilton would erase a two-goal deficit after the Bulldogs rallied from being down to goals in Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Amerks.
Geoffrion led Hamilton offensively with a pair of goals while Brendan Gallagher also notched a two-point night (1+1) for the hometown Bulldogs. Robert Mayer earned the win with a 24-save effort.
Knapp, a native of York, NY, got the first start of his professional career. It marked the first time since Feb. 19 of last season that a goalie other than David Leggio started for the Amerks, a span of 35 games.
After a scoreless opening period, Flynn put the Amerks on the board just 2:38 into the second period with his second goal of the season. Marcus Foligno gained the puck at the bottom of the right face-off circle and fed a centering pass to Flynn, who quickly snapped the puck past Mayer to give Rochester a 1-0 lead. Evan Rankin also assisted on the goal, giving him six points in the last seven games.
Later in the period, Flynn struck for his second goal of the game. Mark Pysyk moved the puck up ice to Zemgus Girgensons, who then got it to Flynn as he skated up the left wing boards. Flynn then stick-handled through a defender and fired a wrist shot high in to the top corner of the net, giving the Amerks a 2-0 lead.
Hamilton cut its deficit to 2-1 midway through the third period. Geoffrion’s shot from the left circle was initially stopped by Knapp, but the puck just trickled over the goal line following a scramble in the crease.
Minutes later, the Bulldogs tied the game on a goal by Gallagher, who was stationed in front and knocked in a rebound after a shot from the blueline by Patrick Holland. The goal came at 12:04 of the third period and was the first of three goals within a three-minute span for Hamilton.
Hamilton then took the lead with two quick goals late in the third. First, Mike Blunden scored on the power play when he tipped a shot from the blueline past Knapp, making it 3-2 Bulldogs for their first lead of the game. Then, Geoffrion was stopped on a wrist shot by Knapp, but got his own rebound and shot it past Knapp to give Hamilton a 4-2 lead.
Nick Tarnasky would bring Rochester within a goal as he converted on a pass from Rick Schofield, but Mayer would preserve the one-goal lead with several key saves in the waning minutes of the game.
The Amerks return to action at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9 at The Blue Cross Arena when they host the Adirondack Phantoms for the second of four meetings between the teams this season. Rochester defeated the Phantoms 6-2 last Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center in the first game of the season series. Next Friday’s game can be heard on Sports 1280 WHTK.