Courtesy of Amerks.com
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Justin Bailey and Wayne Simpson each scored twice as the Rochester Americans (9-3-1-0) came away with a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Monsters (7-5-1-0) Wednesday night at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo.
With the victory, Rochester now has a four-point lead over Cleveland for the top spot in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings while the Amerks have collected 19 of a possible 22 points in their last 11 contests.
In addition to Bailey and Simpson each scoring twice, veteran defenseman Zach Redmond recorded his ninth marker of the season for the Amerks, who dating back to the start of the 2011-12 season, hold a 21-5-2-3 record in the season series. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood stopped 24 of 26 shots he faced to improve his record to 6-3-0.
The Monsters, who have dropped each of the last two games, were led by former Buffalo Sabre Nathan Gerbe as he registered his third multi-point (1+1) performance of the campaign. Sonny Milano scored his first goal of the season while Jean-Francois Berube had 34 saves in a losing effort.
Late in the opening period with the game scoreless, Sean Malone, who made his season debut after missing the first 12 games due to a lower-body injury, won a face-off deep inside the Amerks zone to defenseman Taylor Fedun. After settling the puck, Fedun flipped it nearly the length of the ice. Showing off his speed in front of his hometown crowd, Bailey tracked it down before tucking the puck under the crossbar for his first goal of the night and first of the season.
“When you go 10 games without scoring, you want to do things that made you successful,” said Bailey. “I felt I have had some chances in the last few games and tonight I was able to capitalize on them.”
“I felt a little rusty early on,” said Malone. “As the game progressed, I starting feeling better and more comfortable. Coming back from a long-term injury, it’s hard to mimic the game-like situations, but it was fun to get back on the ice with the team.”
Prior to the sound of the first-period horn, Redmond extended Rochester’s lead to a pair as he fired home his team-leading ninth of the year with 43 seconds left in the frame. The goal put him in sole possession of the team’s scoring lead with 17 points (9+8) in just 13 games this season.
Rochester emerged from intermission break with a 2-0 lead before Bailey gave the Amerks a three-goal cushion with his second of the contest at the 14:04 mark of the period. Similar to his first goal, Bailey won a footrace to a loose puck in the Cleveland zone, poked it beyond the reach of Berube and spun to fire it through the netminder’s legs.
Cleveland got within two goals as Milano banked a shot off the back of Wedgewood on the ensuing shift after Bailey’s tally to complete the scoring in the middle period, but Simpson added a pair during the final period of regulation.
With the puck below the goal-line, C.J. Smith spotted Simpson parked to the right of the Monsters’ netminder and Simpson banged in his third of the year just past the halfway point. Minutes later, Simpson, who was playing in his 200th consecutive AHL game, ripped a shot past the blocker of Berube to put Rochester up 5-1. Smith and Lawrence Pilut were each awarded with the assists on Simpson’s fourth goal of the season at the 13:17 mark.
Gerbe scored his second of the slate for Cleveland in the final minute of play but it was too little, too late as the Amerks earned their fifth win in the home of the Sabres in the last seven years since Rochester and Buffalo renewed its affiliation.
“It was a great win,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “Tonight’s game was one of our best 60-minute games that we have played this season. I really liked every part of the game. Our goaltending, defense and our forwards did a great job and they stuck together tonight.”
The Amerks are back at The Blue Cross Arena for their lone contest of the weekend on Friday, Nov. 9 when they take on the intrastate rival Syracuse Crunch on Military Appreciation Night. As in years past, the team will again wear special Military-themed jerseys along with matching socks as a tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start. All of the action can be heard live on The Sports Leader AM 950/ 95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Bailey (1, 2 – GWG), Redmond (9), Simpson (3, 4)
CLE: Milano (1), Gerbe (2)
ROC: Wedgewood – 24/26 (W)
CLE: Berube – 34/39 (L)
ROC: PP (0/1) | PK (2/2)
CLE: PP (0/2) | PK (1/1)
1: Justin Bailey ()
- Wayne Simpson ()
- Scott Wedgewood ()