Courtesy of Amerks.com
Utica, NY -– The Rochester Americans (18-13-3-1) jumped out to a two-goal lead late in the second period before holding on for a 2-1 win over the Utica Comets (14-14-4-3) Friday night Adirondack Bank Center.
With the win, Rochester has won nine of the previous 10 games on the road against the Comets dating back to the 2022-23 campaign. The Amerks, who have outscored Utica 32-19 during that stretch, have earned a point in six of its last seven games to hold a share of the third place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
Forwards Brendan Warren and Lukas Rousek scored their fourth and seventh goals of the season in the first and second periods, respectively. Ethan Prow, Riley Stillman, Michael Mersch, and Kale Clague all notched an assist in the win.
By way of Rousek’s assist, he pushed his point streak to 12 straight games, which is a career-best and longest active streak in the AHL, while Mersch and Clague each have points in three consecutive contests.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski (7-6-2) made his 15th appearance of the campaign and first since Jan. 6. The veteran netminder made 24 saves to earn his 212th career AHL victory, surpassing Nick Damore for 12th all-time.
Rookie defenseman Will MacKinnon scored his first AHL goal for Utica, which entered the contest riding a season-long eight-game point streak. Netminder Isaac Poulter (10-5-1) made his 18th appearance of the season but suffered his first regulation defeat since Dec. 16.
Early in the contest, Rochester opened the scoring courtesy of Warren, who began and ended the play just over four minutes into the contest.
The University of Michigan product kept the puck inside the Comets zone as he was near the right wall. He provided a quick pass to Justin Richards in the middle of the ice before the latter tapped it to the left point. While Stillman’s shot caromed wide of the net, Prow gathered it quickly and spotted Warren at the far post to steer in-behind Poulter at the 4:07 mark.
Following the intermission break and Rochester successfully clearing off its first penalty of the tilt, the club drew a tripping infraction late in the second period.
On the man-advantage, Tokarski started the transition play as he hit Murray with an outlet pass at center ice. Immediately after gaining possession of the puck, Murray one-touched it to Rousek, who sprinted through the neutral zone. Rousek carried the pass down the right wing before sliding a cross-ice feed to Clague, who rifled it towards the net. Poulter made the initial save but Rousek buried the rebound from the left of the cage to double Rochester’s lead.
In the third period, Utica snapped the Amerks’ bid for a second straight shutout as MacKinnon scored from a sharp angle to the right of Tokarski at the 3:07 mark.
After MacKinnon cut the deficit in half, the game tightened up defensively while tensions also rose as the clubs combined for 28 penalty minutes, which included 20 for fighting.
Utica tried one final attempt to send the game beyond regulation as they pulled Poulter for the final 2:24, but Tokarski and company held off the home team’s last push to secure the 2-1 victory.
The Amerks close out the week as they host the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday, Jan. 20 for a 5:05 p.m. face-off at The Blue Cross Arena. The matchup will be the second and final meeting between the two teams and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV. The game can also be viewed locally on CW Rochester.
Stars and Stripes:
By scoring the eventual game-winning goal, his second of the season, Lukas Rousek extended his point streak to a career-high 12 games, over which he has recorded 13 points (4+9) … The point streak is the longest active in the American Hockey League and second-best behind only Toronto’s Alex Steeves, who posted a 16-game point streak earlier this season … In 10 games this season, Brendan Warren has scored four goals to match a career-best … Riley Stillman notched his third assist of the season and fourth point overall … Of his four points, three have come on the road while two of his three assists have also been outside the Flower City … With his 212th career AHL win, Dustin Tokarski surpassed Nick Damore for 12th all-time.