Courtesy of Amerks.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For the second time this week, the Rochester Americans (18-11-0-0) came up short to the Syracuse Crunch (11-10-2-1), this time suffering a 3-1 setback to their intrastate rivals Saturday at Upstate Medical University Arena. It was the second matchup in four days between the two clubs.
Despite the loss, Rochester has collected at least one point in 23 of the last 37 games against Syracuse dating back to the start of the 2018-19 campaign, going 19-14-3-1. The Amerks have won 10 of their last 14 games overall dating back to Nov. 24.
Defenseman Oskari Laaksonen netted his third goal of the season, a new career-high, in the second period from Arttu Ruotsalainen while the Amerks were on the power-play. The Amerks have scored a power-play goal in 15 of their last 25 games against Syracuse, going 25-for-91 (27.5%) with the man-advantage over that span. Matej Pekar and Mattias Samuelsson both returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 19 while forward Ryan MacInnis appeared in his fourth game in as many nights, which included his Buffalo Sabres debut on Thursday.
Goaltender Michael Houser (5-4-0) made 29 saves on the 31 shots he faced but suffered his fourth loss of season. In five of his 11 appearances this season, the veteran netminder has allowed two or fewer goals.
Otto Somppi opened the scoring with his second of the year before Charles Hudon and Cole Koepke both added their seventh, respectively, for Syracuse, who earned its fourth straight win. Rookie netminder Hugo Alnefelt evened his record to 3-3-1 as he stopped 31 shots.
After a fast-paced but scoreless opening 20 minutes of play, the Amerks were whistled for the first penalty 4:22 into the second period. With a tie-up amongst nearly all nine skaters to Houser’s right, Simon Ryfors dug the puck out before Maxim Cajkovic slid a one-time feed across the zone to Somppi for the initial goal of the night.
Just over nine minutes after the Crunch took a 1-0 lead on the man-advantage, Rochester got on the board thanks to its own power-play goal at the 15:35 mark of the stanza. After an Amerks shot from the high slot caromed to the corner, a Crunch skater attempted to clear the puck around the boards, but Ruotsalainen kept it inside the zone near the right point. The Finnish forward drifted to the face-off dot before setting-up Laaksonen with a one-time blast to make it a 1-1- game.
With the power-play tally, the Amerks have scored at least one power-play goal in 18 of their first 29 games this season and have registered multiple power-play tallies in six overall.
The Crunch, however, drew another power-play just before the end of the frame, and with Hudon’s seventh tally of the slate, they took a 2-1 lead going into the final period of play.
Hudon exchanged a give-and-go with Barre-Boulet to enter the zone before Hudon tucked a shot through the arm of Houser with just 77 seconds remaining in the period.
Trailing by a goal late in the third period, Rochester pulled its goaltender while on its third power-play of the night. The Amerks had a few chances to even the score and force overtime, but in the final seconds of the frame, Koepeke sealed the 3-1 win for Syracuse as he flipped the puck into the vacant net.
The Amerks open a four-game homestand on Wednesday, Jan. 12 when they host the league-leading Utica Comets for an intrastate showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the sixth of 12 scheduled meetings between the North Division rivals this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.