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Special Teams Contribute to Amerks’ Win Over Senators

Special Teams Contribute to Amerks’ Win Over Senators

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – For the first time this season, the puck dropped on a Wednesday night in the ROC as the Rochester Americans hosted the Belleville Senators. After an electric win against the Laval Rocket on Sunday and fresh off of F Jack Quinn being named AHL Rookie of the Month, the Amerks avenged last week’s 7-3 loss against the Senators, winning Wednesday’s matchup in come from behind fashion, 4-3.

The Amerks’ blue line got a boost for this one as the Buffalo Sabres loaned D Mattias Samuelsson to the team after activating him off of the injured reserve list, a result of a lower-body injury sustained at the Buffalo Prospects Challenge.

First Period

The Amerks came out to play, leading the game in shots on goal 12-1 with 3:47 left in the first period. The Senators struggled to get anything through to G Aaron Dell, and he turned his first shot against – a clear on the Amerks’ power play – away with ease. Seeing his first game action since being injured at the Prospect Challenge, Samuelsson looked right at home on the Amerks’ blue line, and F Linus Weissbach was skating like a man on a mission.

F JJ Peterka drew a slashing penalty a little over halfway into the period, however, the Amerks were not able to get much going on the power play. Peterka was later issued a minor for hooking with 2:33 left in the period, and the Senators would make them pay. F Jake Lucchini ripped a shot from the top of the circle by Dell to give the Senators a 1-0 lead going into the intermission. D Zac Leslie and F Egor Sokolov registered assists on Lucchini’s goal.

The scoreboard did not tell the whole story at the end of one – the Amerks had to be happy with the way they played the majority of the first, and went to the locker room confident that the game would come to them.

Second Period

An entirely different start to the second period for the Amerks. Both teams traded power-play opportunities, and while the Amerks’ second opportunity of the night was much improved, they were still not able to figure out G Mads Sogaard, who stood tall for the Senators. Peterka earned the Amerks’ best scoring opportunity of the second power play, ripping a shot over the shoulder of Sogaard, ringing it off of the crossbar.

Rochester struggled to generate offense, failed to connect on passes, and was unable to establish any zone time for the first 15 minutes of the period. Thankfully for the Amerks, the third time on the power play was the charm. Quinn ripped a one-timer passed Sogaard off of a beautiful pass from behind the net by F Michael Mersch, Quinn’s sixth goal in seven games.

Special teams continued to be the story of the game and the Belleville power play – the second-worst power play in the league entering Wednesday’s contest – capitalized on a F Ryan Scarfo high-sticking penalty. Their second power-play goal of the game, scored by F Roby Jarventie, gave the Senators a 2-1 lead at the end of two. Lucchini and Leslie registered their second point of the night on the Jarventie goal.

After being outshot in the last five minutes of the first period by the Senators, the Amerks were unable to find an answer for the Senators’ offense as Belleville generated 15 shots on goal to the Amerks’ 7, giving the visiting team a 21-19 lead in shots on goal. Dell had to make some key saves in high danger areas, giving his team a chance to come back in the third. Sound familiar?

Third Period

Neither team wasted any time getting on the board to start the third period. F Mark Jankowski corralled the puck at the Amerks blue line and began to head up ice alongside Weissbach on a 2-on-1. Jankowski showed pass, taking Sogaard off of his line, and capitalized on the odd-man rush, tying the game only 1:07 into the third period. For Jankowski, his goal marked the 150th point of his professional career.

Only 12 seconds later, the Senators would take a 3-2 lead on a defensive zone debacle. Dell and D Oskari Laaksonen went to play the puck behind the Amerks’ net and the two collided, bringing both to the ice. By the time Dell was finally able to assume his rightful place between the pipes, Senators F Mark Kastelic had netted his second goal of the campaign.

Both teams struggled to stay out of the box in this one, and both teams paid for it. Perhaps the most important power-play goal of the game was F Sean Malone‘s game-tying goal 3:55 into the third period. Moments prior, Peterka pinged a shot off of the goalpost for the second time of the night but managed to regather the puck, throwing a pass cross-ice to Quinn, who found Malone in the slot with a nifty backhand pass. Malone had no issue sending his shot behind Sogaard for his second goal of the season.

If one thing has been certain, it has been the Amerks’ inability to quit on a game. Perhaps a player that exemplifies this most on this roster is captain Michael Mersch. Mersch found the puck in the slot while locked up with Belleville D Jacob Bernard-Docker after Samuelsson broke his stick on a shot from the blue line. Mersch was able to turn and fire one on net, banking the game-winning goal with 1:47 remaining.

They don’t ask how you score them, they just ask how many you score, and with Mersch’s game-winning goal tonight, he increased his tally to six goals on the season, extending his goal-scoring streak to five.

Roughing penalties to Quinn and Leslie made it so the Amerks had to fight off a five-on-four with Sogaard on the Belleville bench. Dell was forced to make some acrobatic saves, and the Amerks were able to secure yet another come from behind win, 4-3.

Looking Ahead

The Amerks will return to the ice on Friday to face the Toronto Marlies for the second time this season, this time in the friendly confines of Blue Cross Arena.

When the two teams last met on October 23rd, the Amerks won 7-3, capitalizing on big performances by Mersch, Quinn, and Jankowski. Quinn has generated a lot of buzz in the last two weeks, and rightfully so. However, Mersch is quietly scoring at a career-high pace. He will be someone to pay close attention to moving forward. If he keeps scoring at this pace, he will match his career-high single-season points total of 49 by January 5th, when the Amerks match up against, you guessed it – the Belleville Senators.

 

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2021 season!

    Jeremy Paul is in his first season covering the Rochester Americans for Field Pass Hockey. You can follow him and interact with him on Twitter @FPHAmericans.

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