Amerks complete weekend sweep of Belleville

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BELLEVILLE, ON — The Rochester Americans (33-19-4-5) faced a one-goal deficit going into the final period of regulation, but thanks to three unanswered goals, including a pair in the final 1:12, the Amerks completed the weekend sweep over the North Division-leading Belleville Senators (38-19-4-1) with a 4-2 victory in the season series finale between the two teams Saturday at CAA Arena.

With the win, the Amerks, who have earned 15 out of a possible 22 points in their last 11 games, hold a two-point lead over the Comets for second place in North Division standings. Rochester also boasts an 8-0-2-0 record all-time in the road portion of the head-to-head series while also claiming at least one point in 13 of the first 18 meetings with the Senators dating back to the 2017-18 season.

Forward Taylor Leier opened the scoring with his team-leading sixth power-play goal of the season and 10th overall, while rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson scored his second marker in as many nights for the Amerks, who posted a 4-1-1-0 record against Belleville this season as well as a perfect 3-0-0-0 mark north of the border. Will Borgen notched his first goal of the season, which held as the game-winning goal, before Sean Malone sealed the win with his 12th of the campaign.

In his first AHL appearance since Jan. 24, goaltender Jonas Johansson (14-3-3), who was reassigned by the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, made 24 saves in his return to the Amerks lineup to earn the win. Dating back to Nov. 13, the Swedish netminder boasts an impressive 12-1-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage while allowing just two goals or less in nine starts over that span.

Max Lajoie and Drake Batherson both lit the lamp for Belleville, who suffered back-to-back regulation losses for only the fourth time all season. In his third-career AHL appearance and second in as many nights, rookie netminder Alex Dubeau (1-2-0) made 37 saves on the 40 shots he faced but was dealt his second straight loss of the weekend.

Early in the third period while facing a 2-1 deficit, Andrew MacWilliam pinched down from the right point to keep the puck inside the offensive zone. Eric Cornel tracked the loose puck and circled behind the Senators net before setting up Bryson for a one-time feed near the left face-off dot.

Bryson’s goal at 2:48 that tied the game at 2-2 was the rookie’s second of the weekend after he notched his first-career shorthanded tally in last night’s 5-3 victory.

Both teams traded scoring chances over the last few minutes of the final frame, and prior to a face-off win by Jean-Sebastien Dea to the left of Dubeau, the game remained deadlocked at 2-2. With the puck sitting just inside the left point, Borgen rocketed a shot through traffic to give the Amerks their first lead of the night with just 1:12 remaining in regulation.

The Senators used their only timeout after Borgen’s goal and pulled Dubeau for the extra attacker. However, Malone intercepted a pass before capping off the win as he fired home his 12th goal of the season into the vacant net to erase any hope of a potential Belleville comeback.

Belleville opened the scoring just 2:57 into the contest as Lajoie scored his fourth of the season in the top corner of the net, but the Amerks held a 13-6 shot-advantage after the opening 20 minutes of play.

Midway through the second stanza, Rochester drew a roughing penalty behind the play to earn its first man-advantage of the contest. The Amerks used the extra skater to knot the score at one when Leier finished off a Casey Mittelstadt and Rasmus Asplund pass at the 10:13 mark.

The goal extended Leier’s point streak to five games (2+4) while Mittelstadt, who was credited with the primary assist, has now totaled 22 points (9+13) since the turn of the New Year and shows 13 points (3+10) in 15 games.

Belleville, though, did not was any time to regain a 2-1 lead just 37 seconds later on Batherson’s 16th goal of the season from Vitaly Abramov and Josh Norris, who recently returned from Ottawa.

The Senators carried the one-goal lead into the third period, but three straight goals from Rochester over the course of the final 20 minutes of play put the finishing touches on the two-game sweep.

The Amerks return home to The Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday, Mar. 11. when they welcome back the Binghamton Devils. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.

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