Courtesy of Amerks.com
Rochester, N.Y. – The Rochester Americans (7-2-2-0) had four different players score their first goals of the season as they relied on the offensive contributions of several newcomers to defeat the Utica Comets by a 4-3 score in the first of back-to-back meetings between the two teams Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the win, the Amerks remain in first place in the AHL’s North Division standings with 16 points and have won two of the first three games against Utica this season. Dating back to Dec. 28, 2022, Rochester has collected points in eight straight games against Utica, going 7-0-1-0 over that span.
Forwards Riley Fiddler-Schultz and Christopher Brown both scored in the first period while Zach Metsa and Damien Grioux added a goal in the final frame, respectively. Metsa and Fiddler-Schultz’s markers were their first in the league. Dominick Mersch, who signed a professional tryout along with Grant Gabriele on Friday, earned an assist as did Isak Rosen, Graham Slaggert, Nikita Novikov, and Ethan Prow.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski (2-1-0) picked up his second win of the season as he stopped 31 of 34 shots he faced. The veteran netminder, who carried a shutout into the third period, made 21 saves through the first 40 minutes of play while surpassing the 10,000-save for his AHL career.
Daniil Misyul produced his first career AHL two-point outing on a goal and assist for Utica, who have lost back-to-back regulation games for the first time this season. Joe Gambardella and former Amerk Kyle Criscuolo each added a goal. Goaltender Isaac Poulter (3-1-1) suffered his first regulation loss of the season despite making 30 saves.
Six minutes after Utica trimmed Rochester’s advantage to one, Giroux reclaimed the two-goal lead at the 14:47 mark with his first goal of the season.
Prior to collecting a rebound to the right of Poulter, Prow fired a shot towards the net from the right point. Before the puck reached the netminder, Novikov redirected it off the pad for Giroux to tuck inside the near post.
As the game was dwindling down, the Comets pulled Poulter for an extra skater, and despite Gambardella making it a 4-3 score in the final minute, the Amerks were able to hold on for the victory.
Nearly eight minutes into the game, Rochester was called for an interference penalty. Much like last Saturday’s contest versus Syracuse, the Amerks opened the scoring despite being shorthanded.
Moments after Slaggertwas denied by Poulter on a two-on-one rush, Filip Cederqvist and Fiddler-Schultz had an odd-man rush of their own just 20 seconds later. Fiddler-Schultz blocked a potential cross-ice pass before racing into the offensive zone and snapping his first career shorthanded goal at the 9:27 mark.
Shortly after the unassisted shorthanded tally, Mersch stripped a Comet of the puck in-front of the Amerks bench. The rookie forward darted up the ice and fired a shot off the pad of the goaltender. While Poulter made the initial save, Brown crashed the crease and tucked in the rebound to double Rochester’s lead with his first of the season with 7:06 left in the opening period.
After the intermission break, the teams limited each other’s shots in the middle period as they combined for 15 compared to the 26 in the opening period.
The Amerks successfully cleared off a pair of penalties in the second stanza that included six seconds of a Comets five-on-three to take a 2-0 advantage into the final frame.
Rochester extended its lead in the first minute of the third period on Metsa’s goal, but Utica countered back with a pair to make it a 3-2 score with 16:30 left in regulation.
The two clubs traded goals prior to the final horn sounding.
The same two teams are back in action on Saturday, Nov. 11 as the home-and-home series shifts to Utica for a rematch at Adirondack Bank Center. The North Division showdown will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.