Amerks Blanked by Crunch 1-0, Drop Third Straight
(Rochester, NY) ... Following a 1-0 loss to the Syracuse Crunch (30-15-2-1) Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena, the Rochester Americans (29-16-3-2) have gone three games without a point for just the second time through 51 regular-season games during the 2018-19 campaign. The contest was the first-leg of a home-and-home series between the two clubs and first of four matchups over the next nine days between the intrastate rivals.
With the regulation defeat, the Amerks have collected 17 out of a possible 26 points in their last 13 games and now share the top spot in the AHL's North Division standings heading into tomorrow night's rematch with the Crunch. Rochester has also notched 25 points in its last 20 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26.
Of Rochester's 18 skaters, 16 recorded at least one shot on net, including a team-high five shots from defenseman Brendan Guhle, while goaltender Scott Wedgewood (17-9-2) was tagged with the loss as he made 31 saves. Dating back to the day after Christmas, Wedgewood shows a 9-5-1 record during that span and has won has won eight of his last 12 games.
Syracuse improved to 9-2-0-0 in its last 11 games as winger Andy Andreoff tallied his 18th goal of the season during the opening period and netminder Connor Ingram recorded his league-leading sixth shutout victory of the season while stopping 32 shots.
In a playoff-type atmosphere full of physicality and little scoring chances, Syracuse, which outshot Rochester 12-5 during the opening frame, scored the only goal of the period and eventually the game at the 13:34 mark.
Midway through the first frame, former Amerk Cory Conacher tapped a breakout pass to Alexander Volkov, who evaded a hit in the neutral zone before he and Andreoff skated in on a 2-on-1 rush entering the offensive zone. Volkov left the puck in the high-slot for Andreoff and the winger used a Rochester defender as a screen to fire the puck over the glove of Wedgewood with 6:26 left in the frame.
The second stanza started with a heavy hit by Andrew MacWilliam just eight seconds into the frame, but the Amerks pressed for the game-tying goal as they drew three power-plays during the period. Rochester, however, was unable to solve Ingram despite firing 17 shots.
"After a slow start, I thought we had a good second and third periods," said Amerks team captain Kevin Porter, who appeared in his 200th game as an Amerk. "We need to have a better start, especially at home. It's not acceptable."
"We need to get more shots and guys in front of their goaltender," added Porter.
As the two clubs entered the final period of regulation and the Crunch clinging to a one-goal lead, they traded chances as they finished with a combined 21 shots. During the final two minutes of the contest, Rochester pulled Wedgewood for the extra attacker, but much like the previous 58 minutes, Ingram stonewalled the Amerks as he held on for the 1-0 victory.
"It's no secret that guys get up for these types of games," MacWilliam said. "The rivalry that has developed over the last couple of seasons. Looking at the standings, we are matched with them. Every game counts against one another."
"It was a close game between two teams who are even with each other in the standings," said Wedgewood. "They got a goal, we did not. They hit a post in the first period and we hit a couple posts, and that's the way it goes sometimes."
The Amerks meet the Crunch again Saturday night as the home-and-home series shifts to the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse for the seventh meeting this season between the longtime rivals. Rochester will close out the three-game weekend on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 3:05 p.m. with a matinee against the Binghamton Devils at The Blue Cross Arena. Both games will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
SYR: Andreoff (18 - GWG)
ROC: Wedgewood - 31/32 (L)
SYR: Ingram - 32/32 (W)
ROC: PP (0/3) | PK (2/2)
SYR: PP (0/2) | PK (3/3)
1: Connor Ingram ()
2. Andy Andreoff ()
3. Scott Wedgewood ()
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