Courtesy of Amerks.com
LAVAL, QUE — The Rochester Americans (22-12-2-0) came up on the short-end of a 2-1 score against the Laval Rocket (15-16-3-3) Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back set between the two North Division opponents at Place Bell. Dating back to last season, the one-goal outcome was the fourth straight game that has been decided by a goal.
Despite suffering just its fourth regulation loss on the road this season, which are tied for fewest in the entire AHL, Rochester holds a two-point lead atop the AHL’s North Division standings to close out the first week of the New Year and have won four of its last six games.
Defenseman Zach Redmond, who was named to the North Division All-Star roster earlier this week, scored his team-leading 16th goal of season during the first period while goaltender Adam Wilcox stopped 13 of the 15 shots he faced but was given the loss. The netminder shows a 7-5-1 record in 15 appearances this season. Rochester also suffered just its third loss in the last 11 meetings with Laval dating back to the 2017-18 season, which includes a 5-1-0-0 mark inside Place Bell.
Daniel Audette and Alexandre Grenier each scored for the Rocket, who have points in 10 of their last 12 games. First-year goaltender Connor LaCouvee made a career-high 28 saves to earn his third straight victory.
After a fast-paced first 10 minutes of the contest, the Amerks had the first break of the afternoon as the Rocket were called for a too many men at the 9:57 mark.
Rochester, which entered this afternoon’s rematch with Laval having scored eight power-play goals in the last five games, capitalized on the man-advantage as Redmond buried his team-leading 16th to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead with 9:10 left in the period.
Danny O’Regan and Matt Tennyson, who has six assists over his last six games, recorded the helpers on Redmond’s eighth power-play goal of the season, which along with his 30 points, leads all AHL defenseman.
With the goal, the veteran blueliner established a new career-high in goals in a season through just 36 games this year after chipping in 15 in 66 outings during the 2017-18 campaign with the Amerks. Redmond is also just two goals shy from tying the franchise record of most goals by a defenseman of 18, set by Rick Pagnutti during the 1972-73 slate.
The Amerks carried their one-goal lead into the break but the Rocket countered with a goal in each of the final two periods to earn their first win in the season series between the two clubs.
Near the midway point of the middle period, Laval dumped the puck in behind Wilcox. As Byron Froese emerged from the right corner of the cage, he attempted to shovel the puck between the Amerks netminder’s leg and the post but the puck made its way atop the crease. With bodies crashing the blue paint, Audette, the son of former Amerk Donald Audette, somehow managed to poke the puck behind Wilcox to even the game at 1-1 at the 12:24 mark.
Moments after the tying-goal, Rochester drew a pair of penalties and held a 5-on-3 two-man advantage for 1:36. LaCouvee and company, however, killed off the infractions and the two teams went into the second intermission tied for the second time in as many games.
During the final period, the Amerks continued to find the lead once again, but Laval moved in front for the first time of the afternoon with 13:10 left in frame. Similar to the second-period goal, Grenier turned out of the corner with the puck, and with Nikita Jevpalovs providing a net-front screen, Wilcox never saw the shot and the home team grabbed a 2-1 lead they ultimately wouldn’t surrender.
The Amerks, who allowed a season-low 15 total shots, kept pushing for the equalizer, and despite pulling Wilcox for the extra attacker, came up a goal short as Laval held on for the 2-1 win.
The Amerks return home on Friday, Jan. 11 at 7:05 p.m. as they begin a home-and-home set with the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies. The matchup will be the third straight game at The Blue Cross Arena between the two teams before the season-series shifts to the newly named Coca-Cola Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 4:00 p.m. All of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester and can also be viewed on AHLTV.
ROC: Redmond (16)
LAV: Audette (4), Grenier (7 – GWG)
ROC: Wilcox – 13/15 (L)
LAV: LaCouvee – 28/29 (W)
ROC: PP (1/5) | PK (2/2)
LAV: PP (0/2)| PK (4/5)