Andrey Makarov took over starting duties in net for the Rochester Americans in a three-game stretch that included a win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and a pair of losses to the Toronto Marlies.
After falling to Toronto 1-0 despite a brilliant performance by Makarov on Wednesday, the Amerks rebounded and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win against Bridgeport on Friday. The Marlies got the best of them again on Saturday, this time by a score of 5-1.
Rochester will look for better results this week when they host a pair of games at Blue Cross Arena – against the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday and the St. John’s Ice Caps on Friday – prior to traveling to Binghamton to take on the Senators Saturday.
The Amerks’ nearly ended their losing streak at three games when they hosted Toronto Wednesday. Makarov made 37 saves that night and kept the game scoreless when he stopped a breakaway opportunity for Marlies forward Zach Hyman.
Rochester forced overtime, but a call against Amerks forward Philip Varone for hooking with 25 seconds left to play in regulation proved to be the difference. After faltering on their previous four power-play attempts, the Marlies finally took advantage when forward Brendan Leipsic scored 1:28 into the overtime period.
The Amerks went 0-for-4 on the power play, including an unsuccessful 5-on-3 advantage for 1:29 in the third period during which Hyman intercepted a pass for his breakaway opportunity.
Afterward, Amerks coach Randy Cunneyworth called his goaltender’s effort “outstanding.”
“That’s his job, his job is to do exactly what he did,” Cunneyworth said. “He’s always won me over, just the way he approaches the game and the way he’s got a lot of life … He’s got a lot of pep and both our goalies have given us chances here to get our offense going.”
Makarov and the Amerks found themselves in overtime again on Friday against Bridgeport, but this time forward Justin Bailey ensured that the game would end in their favor.
Bailey stripped the puck from Bridgeport’s Sebastian Collberg in the defensive zone and took the puck all the way up the ice, using his speed to create a 2-on-1 advantage with defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti.
The forward sent a crossing pass to Sanguinetti, who one-timed it home for the game-winning goal 3:03 into the extra period.
“I think all night I was struggling pretty badly with turnovers and things like that so I think I definitely have to take accountability for that,” Bailey told reporters afterward. “But I wanted to make the right play and I was fortunate enough to make something happen.”
Amerks captain Cal O'Reilly tallied two points, sending a perfect cross-ice pass to set up Nicholas Baptiste’s one-time goal with just eight seconds remaining in the first period and later breaking away for a goal of his own at the 13:35 mark of the second.
Bridgeport’s Jared Gomes scored on a rebound just 19 seconds later to cut Rochester’s lead to one, however, and Ryan Stome tied the game with a tip-in goal with 2:26 remaining in regulation.
In the end, it was Bailey’s hard work in the 3-on-3 overtime that saved the game for the Amerks.
“I think the message to him and anybody else is you see the level of work that they do have at that time of 3-on-3, and we’re trying to strive to get to that on 5-on-5,” Cunneyworth said. “It would be beneficial to our game if we had a group of guys who wanted to play that hard all the time.
“It’s hard to defend, and I think it shows we have guys that are capable of doing it.”
O’Reilly earned another point Saturday when he set up Varone’s seventh goal of the season, but the Amerks couldn’t match their effort from the previous two games in a 5-1 loss to the Marlies Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum.
Toronto scored a goal in each of the first two periods and added two within the first seven minutes of the third. By the time O’Reilly fed Varone to put Rochester on the board 16:18 into the third, it was too late. The Marlies added an empty-netter with 59 seconds on the clock to seal the win.
T.J. Brennan (1G+1A), Richard Panik (1+1) Rinat Valiev (1+1) and Leipsic (0+2) each tallied two points for the Marlies. Makarov made 31 saves in the loss.
1. Philip Varone 11 points (7+4)
2. Cal O'Reilly 9 points (3+6)
3. Jason Akeson 8 points (3+5)
4. Jean Dupuy 7 points (1+6)
5. Nicholas Baptiste 6 points (2+4)
Justin Bailey 6 points (2+4)
1. Andrey Makarov 2-4-0, 3.37 GAA, 227 saves, .901 save percentage
2. Nathan Lieuwen 4-3-0, 3.72 GAA, 197 saves, .887 save percentage
The Amerks play again Wednesday night when they host the Crunch at 7:05 p.m. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1280 in Rochester. The Blue Cross Arena will also be rocking Friday night when the Amerks take on St. John's at 7:05 p.m. Rochester hits the road on Saturday for game in Binghamton.
And don’t miss your chance to experience Star Wars Night on Dec. 5.
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