Three was the magic number this past weekend for the Rochester Americans, who played three road games in three days and, thanks in part to three goals from Phil Varone, were able to capture a pair of wins in the process.
Now, the Amerks can take a well-deserved breather. They play only one game this week, at home against the Binghamton Senators on Friday night.
Rochester’s road trip got off to a less-than-ideal start when the Amerks traveled to Springfield, Mass. to take on the Falcons at MassMutual Center on Oct. 30. Varone’s third goal of the season was the lone bright spot of a 6-1 loss.
The Amerks trailed 2-0 in the first period when Varone scored on his fourth shot of the game, capitalizing on a loose puck in front of the net. Springfield scored again in the second to regain a two-goal edge and then added three more in the third to seal a lopsided win.
Springfield forward Dustin Jeffrey scored twice in the third period. That, combined with an assist in the second, earned him first star honors for the game.
Goaltender Andrey Makarov had a busy day in net for the Amerks, allowing six goals on 37 save attempts in the loss. The Amerks were outshot 37-24.
Rochester was outshot again, 40-27, the next day in Portland. But this time, Nathan Lieuwen rose to the challenge in net.
Lieuwen made 37 saves and Varone scored twice more in the Amerks’ 4-3 win against the Pirates. With Rochester trailing 1-0 after the first period, forwards Justin Bailey and William Carrier both scored their first goals of the season and Varone added his fourth to jump out to a 3-1 lead in the second.
Portland scored before the end of the period to pull back within one, but Varone’s second goal – at the 15:00 mark of the third – restored the Amerks’ two-goal lead. The Pirates made one final push when Brent Regner scored with less than three minutes to play, but Lieuwen held strong from that point on for the victory.
It took him nine games to score his first goal in the American Hockey League, but Bailey wasted little time in notching goal number two. The forward scored again on Sunday in the Amerks’ 3-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Captain Cal O’Reilly added a goal and an assist and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti also scored for Rochester. Jason Akeson added two helpers and Lieuwen stopped 22-24 shots for his second-consecutive win.
O’Reilly set the tone early thanks to a cross-ice pass from Akeson that set up his goal just 1:23 into the first period. Hartford tied the game 5:37 later, but Bailey scored before the period’s end and Sanguinetti’s marker 6:15 into the second made it 3-1.
Calle Andersson scored for the Wolf Pack with 2:13 remaining in the second, but it wasn’t enough to derail Rochester from its third win in four games. Lieuwen stopped all eight of the shots he faced in the third period, including a save made with his right pad on a penalty shot by Hartford’s Jayson Megna.
Despite the tough loss to open the road trip, Amerks coach Randy Cunneyworth was pleased with the weekend’s results.
“The rally the next two nights tells more about our group,” he told the Democrat & Chronicle. “We were trying to find ourselves early in the season still and I think we did that against a couple of good teams.”
1. Phil Varone 8 points (5G+3A)
Jason Akeson 8 points (3+5)
3. Cal O’Reilly 6 points (2+4)
Jean Dupuy 6 points (0+6)
5. Jerome Leduc 5 points (2+3)
1. Linus Ullmark 1-2-0-0, 2.72 GAA, 110 saves, .932 save %
2. Nathan Lieuwen 3-1-0-0, 4.02 GAA, 114 saves, .884 save %
3. Andrey Makarov 1-2-0-0, 4.77 GAA, 97 saves, .858 save %
The Amerks will return home on Friday night to host the Senators at Blue Cross Arena on Military Appreciation Night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The game can be seen on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel 26 in Rochester and Channel 323 for viewers in the Buffalo market. It can also be heard on Fox Sports 1280 in Rochester.
Stay tuned to Amerks.com before and after the game and for complete coverage all season long.