While his contemporaries have taken turns with recalls to Buffalo, Justin Bailey is continuing to emerge as one of the leading scorers for the Rochester Americans in his first professional season. A five-point weekend from Bailey helped steer the Amerks to back-to-back road wins this past weekend.
Bailey tallied a goal and an assist in a 5-4 victory over the Syracuse Crunch on Friday, then scored twice and added one more helper in a 4-0 win over the Binghamton Senators on Saturday. The wins gave Rochester sole possession of fourth place in the North Division.
Despite Bailey's big weekend, it was another rookie who scored the game-winner in the back-and-forth tilt with the Crunch. After Syracuse had twice erased two-point deficits, Evan Rodrigues delivered the deciding goal with 5:51 remaining in the third period.
Goals from William Carrier and Matt Donovan had originally given Rochester a 2-0 lead in the second period, but Syracuse responded with two of their own before intermission. Bailey scored 1:03 into the third and Tim Schaller added another marker just over four minutes later for a 4-2 lead. But Syracuse's Adam Erne scored twice – once shorthanded and once on the power play – to knot it 4-4.
Rodrigues' winner came exactly three minutes after Erne's tying goal. The rookie took a shot, chased down his own rebound and scored beneath the left pad of Crunch goaltender Adam Wilcox. Linus Ullmark, who made 39 saves, shut the door the rest of the way to hold on for his fourth victory.
Bailey's multi-goal outing on Saturday provided some extra cushion, but one goal was all the Amerks needed thanks a better defensive effort and a 23-save shutout for Nathan Lieuwen, his second of the season.
The Amerks were held scoreless through the first period on Saturday, but it didn't take long into the second for Schaller to get them on the board. He scored his ninth goal of the season just eight seconds into the period on assists from Carrier and Bailey.
Bailey bookended the third period with a pair of goals and Jerry D'Amigo scored one in-between, securing a victory on a night in which Rochester outshot Binghamton 37-23.
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 18 points (6+12)
William Carrier 18 points (5+13)
1. Nathan Lieuwen 12-8-0, 2.63 GAA, .918 save percentage
2. Andrey Makarov 6-7-1, 3.09 GAA, .907 save percentage
3. Linus Ullmark 4-4-0, 3.28 GAA, .908 save percentage
The Amerks have a busy weekend ahead of them with three games in three days beginning Friday night against Albany at Blue Cross Arena. Rochester will then travel to Albany to play the Devils on Saturday and then close the weekend with a game in Hartford on Sunday.
Friday is "Donate Life Night" at Blue Cross Arena, during which the Amerks will partner with Finger Lakers Donor Recovery Network to raise awareness for organ donation. Live music will be performed by Jim Lane at a Pregame Happy Hour.
If you're celebrating Valentine's Day early – or if you just enjoy chocolate – the Amerks will also be hosting "A Chocolate Love Affair" tasting event on Friday. For $25, fans will have access to a chocolate fountain, chocolate liqueur and red wine tasting in addition to a best available ticket to the game.
All of the Amerks' games this weekend can be heard live in Rochester on Fox Sports 1280 with postgame coverage available on Amerks.com.