Courtesy of Amerks.com
ALLENTOWN, PA. –The Rochester Americans (21-12-2-4) fell into a two-goal deficit midway through the first period against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (18-19-1-4) and could not muster any offense as they suffered a 4-0 defeat Saturday night at the PPL Center.
Despite the loss, the Amerks show a 16-9-1-3 record over their last 29 games dating back to Nov. 1, earning points in 20 games over that span. Rochester remains in third in the AHL’s North Division standings entering Sunday’s final game of the three-in-three weekend.
Defenseman Casey Nelson registered a game-high five shots on net while goaltender Andrew Hammond (10-9-2) suffered his seventh straight loss for the Amerks.
Forward Greg Carey tallied a pair of goals, including the game-winner, for Lehigh Valley, who have won five straight games and six of its last seven. Max Willman and Mikhail Vorobyev rounded out the scoring. Netminder Jean-Francois Berube (9-8-3) appeared in his fourth straight contest and made all 20 saves to record his second shutout of the campaign.
Just 19 seconds after an Amerks hooking penalty in the opening period, the Phantoms wasted little time to capitalize on the man-advantage when Morgan Frost handed Cal O’Reilly the puck near the left circle. The former Amerk captain fired a shot towards Hammond, but as he attempted to make the save, Carey gathered the rebound and flipped it into the net, giving Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead 4:48 into the first frame.
Later in stanza, the Phantoms doubled their lead with 6:28 remaining as former Amerk Kyle Criscuolo sprung an outlet pass to Willman as the Amerks were changing behind the play. Sprinting with the puck into the offensive zone, Willman snuck in a shot just inside left post of Hammond from atop the right faceoff dot.
The two teams emerged from the intermission break and Lehigh Valley cushioned its lead to 3-0 when Carey beat Hammond for his second of the contest with 9:32 left in the middle frame.
While in the neutral zone, Tyler Wotherspoon dumped the puck in behind the Amerks netminder. As Hammond went to play the puck, it bounced over his stick and to right to David Kase in the trapezoid. With the goaltender scrambling back to his crease, Kase centered a pass to Carey parked in-front of the cage.
The Phantoms closed out the scoring with 5:23 left in regulation as they sealed the 4-0 shutout with their second power-play marker of the night.
The AHL’s oldest rivalry will be renewed on Sunday, Jan. 19 when the Amerks visit the Hershey Bears to put the finishing touches on their final three-in-three of the season at Giant Center. The puck drops on the 460th all-time meeting between the league’s two oldest teams at 5:00 p.m. with all the action being carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.