The Rochester Americans extended their winning streak to a season-high five games with a 5-3 road victory over the Syracuse Crunch at the War Memorial at Oncenter on Saturday night. With the win, the Amerks have now defeated the rival Crunch five times in six meetings this season.
Goaltender David Leggio, making his 15th consecutive start, finished with 43 saves on the night, including several key stops in the third period, to help lead the Amerks to their seventh win in the last eight games. It marks the first time since Feb. 22 – Mar. 10, 2012 that Rochester has won seven times in an eight-game stretch.
Veteran forward Patrick Rissmiller, who re-joined the Amerks earlier today on a Professional Tryout, made his return to Rochester in a big way by recording a goal and an assist in his season debut with the team. Captain Kevin Porter also had a goal and an assist while Brayden McNabb and Mark Mancari each collected two assists. Rick Schofield, Nick Crawford and Kevin Sundher also scored for the Amerks.
Richard Panik, Brett Connolly and Danick Gauthier each scored for Syracuse while goaltender Riku Helenius made 16 saves on 21 shots in the loss.
Rissmiller gave the Amerks a 1-0 lead by scoring on his first shot for a power-play goal at 11:48 of the opening frame. Helenius made the initial save on McNabb’s shot from the left point, but the rebound bounced to a waiting Rissmiller, who kicked the puck up to his stick before depositing his back-hander into the wide open net.
The Crunch tied the contest midway through the second period as Panik jammed home J.T. Wyman’s rebound for his team-leading 20th goal of the season. Wyman retrieved Mike Angelidis’ shot that missed wide of the net and attempted to stuff it inside the near post, but the puck fell behind Leggio along the goal-line, allowing for an easy tap-in for Panik.
The game wouldn’t remain tied for long though, as Schofield, a former Crunch, answered just 38 seconds later to help the Amerks regain the lead. An aggressive forecheck by Phil Varone caused a turnover deep in the Syracuse zone, and after stealing the puck from his defender in the right corner, he found a wide-open Schofield, who beat Helenius for his sixth goal of the season to make it a 2-1 game.
Rochester’s power-play struck again just 2:10 later as McNabb and Rissmiller set up Crawford from the right circle to put the Amerks ahead 3-1. After receiving a pass from McNabb from the high slot, Rissmiller slid a pass across the goal-mouth to Crawford, who left his post at the blueline and put a well-placed shot just under the crossbar for his third of the season. Referee Pierre Lambert would take the play to official video review as Crawford’s shot caromed off the net’s middle support beam and immediately exited the cage. Replay, however, would verify the goal, giving McNabb and Rissmiller each their second points of the night. McNabb, an AHL All-Star, now has seven assists in the last four games.
Sundher extended his current point streak to five games with his fourth goal of the season to put the Amerks up 4-1 7:34 into the final frame. Sundher capitalized on a Crunch turnover just inside the blueline and attempted to set up Mancari in the high slot, but Mancari returned to the pass to Sundher for the one-touch to the back of net. Mancari, who had a hat trick on Friday night, now has four consecutive multi-point games.
Rochester put the game out of reach less than two minutes later as Porter picked the top right corner to give the Amerks a 5-1 cushion and record his second point of the night. Connolly and Gauthier would each score a goal for Syracuse late in the third period to make it a two-goal game, but Leggio shut the door in the closing minutes with several big saves to preserve the 5-3 Rochester victory.
The Amerks head west for the first of back-to-back tilts with the Abbotsford Heat on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Game time is slated for a 1:30 p.m. EST start with all the action being carried live on WBER 90.5 FM.