With injuries continuing to deplete their roster, the Rochester Americans were able to salvage just once victory out of a three-game weekend. Justin Bailey scored twice in a win at Syracuse on Saturday, but it was sandwiched between home losses to Grand Rapids on Friday and Sunday.
Prior to the weekend, Amerks coach Randy Cunneyworth announced that the season had ended for fourth-leading scorer William Carrier as well as for forward Patrick Kaleta and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, all due to upper-body injuries.
The Amerks also began the weekend without forward Tim Schaller, who has 26 points (12+14) in 34 games, and defenseman Colby Robak, neither of whom has yet returned to play. They were joined on the shelf by defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, who was injured on Friday and did not play in the next two games.
Forward Cason Hohmann, a teammate of Rochester's Evan Rodrigues and Buffalo's Jack Eichel at Boston University, was recalled for his AHL debut and played all three games on the weekend. Defenseman Spiro Goulakos was recalled upon Ruhwedel's injury.
Both were reassigned the Elmira on Monday morning, however, because additional help was on the way. With their seasons in junior behind them, defenseman Brendan Guhle and Giorgio Estephan both were announced to have joined the Amerks on Monday afternoon.
Guhle, 18, was a second-round draft pick by the Sabres in 2015. After an impressive showing in Training Camp that saw him play in two preseason games, he accrued 28 points (10+18) in 63 games with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League.
Estephan, 19, was taken by the Sabres in the sixth round of the 2015 Draft and recorded 74 points (30+44) in 59 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, also of the WHL.
The Amerks' two losses on the weekend all but ended their hopes at a playoff run. They now sit six points behind fourth-place Syracuse in the North Division and 14 points behind Bridgeport, the fifth-place team in the Atlantic Division with only six games remaining.
FRIDAY: GR 6 - ROC 1
Grand Rapids scored six unanswered goals, including four in the third period, after Matt Ellis opened the scoring for Rochester 7:56 into the contest. Mark Zengerle (1+1), Joakim Andersson (1+1), Xavier Ouellet (0+2) and former Sabre Nathan Paetsch each recorded two points for the Griffins.
The Amerks outshot the Griffins 42-29 but Grand Rapids goalie Tom McCollum made 41 saves. Rochester goalie Linus Ullmark allowed all six goals in the loss.
SATURDAY: ROC 5 - SYR 1
Goalie Andrey Makarov was strong in his first start, recording a season-high 42 saves. His offense gave him plenty of support, beginning with the team-leading 24th goal of the season from Eric O'Dell with 50 seconds remaining in the first period.
Jonathan Drouin tied the game for Syracuse shortly into the second period but the Amerks scored a string of four goals from that point on, including a pair from Bailey. Goulakos also recorded his first goal as an Amerk and Nicholas Baptiste capped the scoring with an empty-netter.
Bailey now has 31 points (16+25) in his last 25 appearances, including nine multi-point efforts since Jan. 2. He has 19 goals and 24 assists through 64 games of his first professional season.
SUNDAY GR 5 – ROC 2
Cole Schneider scored his 20th goal of the season to open the scoring for the Amerks in the final minute of the first period, but Rochester was sunk by a string of four-consecutive Grand Rapids goals. Zack Nastasiuk led the Griffins with three points (2+1) including the game-tying goal in the second period and a welcome insurance goal to make it 5-1 after Grand Rapids had already scored into an empty net.
Alex Guptill scored Rochester's second goal of the game to make it 5-2 with 1:38 remaining, but it was the closest the Amerks would get. McCollum earned his second win of the weekend with 30 saves.
Makarov made 33 saves in the loss.
1. Cole Schneider 54 points (20+34)
2. Eric O'Dell 46 points (24+22)
3. Justin Bailey 43 points (19+24)
4. William Carrier 30 points (13+17)
Matt Donovan 30 points (8+22)
5. Evan Rodrigues 28 points (9+19)
1. Andrey Makarov 8-9-1, 2.97 GAA, .912 save percentage
2. Linus Ullmark 10-13-0, 3.38 GAA, .903 save percentage
MORE ROSTER MOVES
The Amerks released defenseman Collin Bowman from his professional tryout (PTO) contract on Tuesday and signed forward Matt Lane to an AHL contract for the 2016-17 season on Wednesday.
Lane, a Rochester native, recently completed his senior season at Boston University with a career-high 28 points. The 21 year old scored 69 points (33+36) and 34 penalty minutes in 152 career games at BU.
Bailey, who was called up to the NHL on Tuesday as an injury replacement, was returned to the Amerks on Wednesday. Rochester should have him back in the lineup when they begin another 3-in-3 weekend with a pair of home games on Friday and Saturday against the Binghamton Senators and Lake Erie Monsters, respectively. Each is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m., with Friday's game airing live on 107.3 FM and Saturday's on Fox Sports 1280.
Rochester then concludes its weekend on Sunday with a road game at Lake Erie, set for a 5 p.m. puck drop. That game can also be heard on 107.3 FM.