|(Photo Credit: Micheline Veluvolu/Rochester Americans)
The Rochester Americans saw two different goaltenders in two different buildings in back-to-back games against the Albany Devils on Friday and Saturday, and yet the outcome remained the same. The Amerks were shutout out twice by the Devils, and then extended their losing streak to three games with a 4-2 loss in Hartford on Sunday.
Ironically, the sudden scoring struggles coincided with the return of three players to the Amerks' lineup. Chad Ruhwedel (15 games missed), Nicholas Baptiste (12 missed) and Cal O'Reilly (two missed) all returned from injury on Friday. Ruhwedel led Rochester with four shots that night and again with five on Saturday.
Mike Sislo scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win for the Devils on Friday, breaking a scoreless tie with a shorthanded goal 6:15 into the third period. Albany goaltender Yann Danis needed just 22 saves for his second straight shutout and his sixth of the season.
Sislo's shorthanded goal, the product of an Amerks turnover, was the lowlight of a 0-for-5 night for the Amerks on the power play. Danis was forced to earn his shutout shortly after, stopping Matt Donovan on a breakaway with a chance to tie the game.
Linus Ullmark earned third-star honors with 27 saves in the losing effort.
Albany wasted little time in getting on the board on Saturday, taking a quick lead with a goal from Graham Black 2:20 into the contest and then getting another from Sislo with 11:23 still on the clock in the first period. Jim O'Brien added a power-play goal with 34 seconds remaining in regulation.
Shots were tied at 26 apiece this time, but Albany goaltender Ken Appleby was impenetrable. Rochester went 0-for-4 on the power play and Nathan Lieuwen took the loss in net as the Amerks were shutout in back-to-back contests for the second time this season.
Rochester's goal-scoring drought lasted until midway through the second period in Hartford on Sunday, at which point the Amerks already found themselves trailing 2-0. William Carrier finally found twine 9:21 into the period, batting in a rebound off a shot from the point by Ruhwedel.
Evan Rodrigues tied the game with his seventh goal of the season 13:06 into the third period, but Hartford's Travis Oleksuk broke the tie 53 seconds later and Chad Nehring added an empty-netter with seven seconds remaining. Ullmark took the loss with 16 saves.
1. Philip Varone 26 points (12+14)
Jason Akeson 26 points (7+19)
Cal O'Reilly 26 points (5+21)
4. Justin Bailey 23 points (10+13)
5. Evan Rodrigues 19 points (7+12)
William Carrier 19 points (6+13)
1. Nathan Lieuwen 12-9-0, 2.65 GAA, .917 save percentage
2. Linus Ullmark 4-6-0, 3.05 GAA, .909 save percentage
3. Andrey Makarov 6-7-1, 3.09 GAA, .907 save percentage
The Amerks are in for another set of three games in three days this weekend, beginning when they host the Portland Pirates on Friday night. The last time the Pirates were welcomed into the Blue Cross Arena was on Feb. 21, 2010, when the Amerks picked up their 2,000th franchise victory in a 3-2 shootout win.
Friday will also kick off the Amerks' involvement with USA Hockey’s Hockey Weekend Across America, which begins with "Wear Your Favorite Jersey Day." Local players ages 14 or under can wear their youth hockey jersey on Friday and receive a complimentary ticket with the purchase of a regular priced adult ticket.
The Amerks will head to Syracuse to take on the Crunch on Saturday night, but the festivities will continue with "Try Hockey For Free Day," during which four local rinks and hundreds nationwide will host free hockey clinics. Participating rinks and clinic times can be found here.
On Sunday, the weekend will conclude with "Celebrate Local Heroes Night" as the Amerks return home for a 5 p.m. game against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. The Amerks will celebrate the life of Patrick Carr, the local youth hockey player who inspired the community through his courageous battle with cancer. The Amerks will wear “Lil Fighter” decals on their helmets during the game in his memory.
Registered USA Hockey Youth members can receive a complimentary ticket to Sunday's game by going here. Sunday is also Kids Day Presented by I Love NY at Blue Cross Arena, which includes a pregame skate at 2 p.m. and other kid-friendly activities. Youth tickets can be purchased for $5 and more information can be found at amerks.com/kidsday.
All three of the weekend's games can be heard on Fox Sports 1280 in Rochester and coverage can be found on amerks.com.