Amerks hold off Crunch for fourth straight win

Courtesy of Amerks.com

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Ryan Scarfo’s first goal as an Amerk broke a 2-2 tie midway through the third period and the Rochester Americans held on the rest of the way as the team opened its three-game road swing with a 3-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch Saturday at Upstate Medical University Arena.

After going 4-5-1-0 against the Crunch during the 2017-18 campaign, the Amerks are now 14-7-1-1 in their last 23 contests against Syracuse and tonight’s win made it their fourth straight since dropping the season opener. The win improved Rochester to 4-1-0-0 on the young season and moved the Amerks into a two-way tie with the Hershey Bears for second place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.

Rookie defenseman Ryan Jones (1+1) scored his first pro goal to give the Amerks their first lead of the contest halfway through the first period and assisted on Scarfo’s eventual game-winner to turn in his second multi-point effort of the campaign. Brett Murray (1+1) followed suit in the second stanza, racking up his second point of the night with a tally and notching his first multi-point game of the year. Scarfo sealed the victory with his second AHL game-winning goal of his career. Jean-Sebastian Dea (0+1) extended his point streak to four games with an assist, while Michael Mersch (0+1) added his first point as an Amerk with a helper on the team’s third-period marker.

Veteran goaltender Dustin Tokarski (1-1-0) got the nod in the crease for the first time since opening night and received his first win as an Amerk with 37 saves against his former team.

The Syracuse offense was led by defenseman Brady Keeper (1+0) and forward Grigori Denisenko (1+0), giving the Crunch their second-period markers. Otto Somppi (0+1), Chase Priskie (0+1) and Taylor Raddysh (0+1) all added helpers on the Crunch tallies. Netminder Spencer Martin (0-1-0) took the loss in his season debut with the Crunch, stopping 29 of the 32 shots he faced in his first contest since Mar. 11, 2020.

For the fourth time in the last four games, the Crunch entered the second period trailing their opponent.

At almost the exact same time as Rochester’s first-period goal by Jones, Murray would get his second point of the night with his second goal of the season. Jacob Bryson corralled a loose puck along the left wing boards and sent it deep into the Syracuse zone. C.J. Smith corralled it from behind the Crunch net, and while warding off a Syracuse defender, spun a centering pass to a waiting Murray, who roofed it over the right shoulder of Spencer to make it 2-0.

Just 2:28 after the Amerks doubled the score, the Crunch would begin to come back in the middle frame.

Keeper would be the first to get on the board with a give-and-go exchange with Sompii up the ice, picking the top right corner. Nearly 5:30 later, Denisenko evened the score at 2-2 with Syracuse’s fourth power-play tally of the year.

Halfway through the final frame, the Amerks would take their second lead of the contest and hold onto it until the final buzzer.

Jones earned his second point of the night, sending a pass from just inside the Syracuse blueline to a wide-open Mersch, who was stationed at the top of the right face-off dot. Mersch unleashed a shot on net through traffic that would be deflected back out to the slot, where Scarfo converted on a second-chance rebound from the top of the crease to give Rochester the 3-2 lead.

In the first period, the Amerks held the Crunch silent despite being slightly outshot 9-8 through the first 20 minutes of play.

Midway through the opening stanza, the Amerks got on the board with Jones’ first career tally with 8:41 to go. Dea cycled the puck behind the Syracuse net before Murray grabbed it out of the corner. Murray spotted a streaking Jones slip behind the Syracuse defense uncontested from his post at the blueline and the rookie blueliner converted on the back-door feed after snapping a shot over the top of Martin’s glove for the first goal of the contest.

The Amerks look to take a 3-0-0-0 series lead and extend their win streak to five games on Wednesday, Feb. 24 when they face-off against the Crunch again for the second time in five nights in a rematch at Upstate Medical University Arena. 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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