Amerks erase two-goal deficit, fall in shootout

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UTICA, N.Y. — Despite coming back from a two-goal deficit, the Rochester Americans (6-3-0-1) fell 3-2 in their second shootout effort of the season to the Utica Comets (6-2-0-1) Wednesday night at the Adirondack Bank Center.

Rochester has collected at least one point in 22 of the last 31 games against Utica dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, going 16-9-2-4 over that span.

Forward Jack Quinn (1+0) scored his first professional goal late in the second period to ignite the comeback and defenseman Griffin Luce (0+1) recorded his first point as an Amerk – and first in the American Hockey League – with an assist on Rochester’s game-tying goal. Arttu Ruotsalainen (0+1) extended his point streak to four games with an assist and Brett Murray (0+1) found himself on the scoresheet for the sixth game this year with a helper as well.

Rookie goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (5-2-1), who made his fifth straight and seventh in the last eight games for Rochester, finished with 35 saves in the loss.

The Comets early tallies came from Jonah Gadjovich (1+0) and Hugh McCing (1+0) to put the hosts up 2-0 in the first. Josh Teves (0+1), Mitch Eliot (0+1) and Lukas Jasek (0+1) all added assists on the night to help push Utica past Rochester. Gadjovich now has eight goals in nine games this season, including six against the Amerks.

Jake Kielly (3-1-0) earned his first start of the season against Rochester, stopping 32 of 34 shots he faced.

As Utica fell silent in the middle stanza carrying a 2-0 advantage, the Amerks began to press and eventually broke through on their second man-advantage opportunity of the night, resulting in Quinn’s first pro goal.

As Ruotsalainen maneuvered the puck up the right wing, he sent a pass to Murray in the near corner just off the Utica net. Murray then feathered a cross-ice pass through the slot to a wide-open Quinn, who one-timed the offering past Kielly for his first professional marker to trim the Comets lead in half.

Now 10 games into the campaign, Rochester’s power-play has gone 13-for-42 with a 30.9 percent conversion rate that is currently third-best in the AHL. The Amerks’ 13 goals on the man-advantage are also tops in the league.

The Amerks have scored at least one power-play goal in eight of their first 10 games this season and have registered multiple power-play tallies in five of their last nine outings overall.

Rochester then went into the second intermission knowing that they had to inch back at the Comets 2-1 lead, and it didn’t take long once the third period ensued.

Just 1:53 into the final frame, Luce found a loose puck just inside the Utica blueline and drove a shot on net. Being in the right place at the right time, Mersch was placed in-between the face-off dots and provided a well-timed deflection on the pass from the Amerks newcomer to tie the contest at two apiece and send it into an extra frame.

Even though the Amerks spent a majority of the overtime period in a four-on-three situation, both teams fell silent, and the shootout was needed to determine a winner.

Both teams would square off with four shooters apiece as the shootout ensued. After Utica converted on its first chance, it would take until the third skater for the Amerks to find the back of the net when Jean-Sebastien Dea was called upon.

Comets forward John Stevens would then seal the 3-2 win for the Comets on their final shot of the night.

After the Comets got on the board with a goal less than three minutes into the game, it wasn’t until 9:48 into the first period when Dea recorded the Amerks first shot.

The Amerks seemed to find their road legs before the period’s end as they narrowed the shots 13-8, but not before Utica would strike once more.

As Jasek caused a turnover inside Rochester’s zone, Eliot centered a pass to Gadjovich, who was set up above the right face-off circle. Gadjovich sent a shot deflecting over the pad of Luukkonen for the Comets second of the night.

The Amerks open a three-game homestand while also looking for their fourth straight win on home ice on Friday, March 12 when they host the Cleveland Monsters at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 6:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV. Friday’s matchup will also be tape-delayed on CW Rochester and available for viewing beginning at 10:00 p.m.

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