Amerks Comeback Falls Short in Syracuse
(Syracuse, NY) ... The Rochester Americans (8-11-2-1) erased a three-goal deficit midway through the second period but could not complete the comeback as the Amerks saw their winless streak reach six straight games with a 5-3 setback to the Syracuse Crunch (14-8-1-0) Saturday at Upstate Medical University Arena.
The contest was the 10th of 12 scheduled meetings between the two teams this season and second in the last four days. Prior to tonight's matchup, the Amerks had recorded points in six of the first nine get-togethers with the Crunch this season while also posting a 16-10-3-1 record in their last 30 games against Syracuse.
In his Amerks debut, defenseman and East Amherst native, Nick DeSimone, who was loaned to Rochester earlier in the week from the Vegas Golden Knights, led the club with a pair of assists. Forwards Remi Elie, Dominic Franco and Michael Mersch all scored for the second straight night as the Amerks rallied back from a 3-0 first-period deficit before Syracuse tacked on two more 21:02 of regulation.
With his goal, Mersch has tallied nine points (5+4) over his last seven outings while Franco has seven points (4+3) in his last nine games, including three straight games with at least one point. Elie, meanwhile, extended his point streak to four games as he has registered four goals and two assists over that span to take over the team's scoring lead with 17 points (9+8) in 21 appearances.
C.J. Smith, Brandon Hawkins, Brent Gates, Jr., and Brendan Warren all added an assist in the loss.
In his second consecutive start and fourth appearance overall, rookie goaltender Billy Christopoulos (0-1-0) allowed three goals on five shots before being replaced by Stefanos Lekkas (0-4-1) at the 14:49 mark of the first period. Lekkas stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced but took the defeat.
Boris Katchouk (1+1) and Taylor Raddysh (1+1) both extended their point streaks to 13 and 11 games, respectively, as they both scored a goal and added an assist to lead the Crunch to their fourth straight home victory and sixth in the last games overall. Katchouk's streak is the longest since Syracuse has been affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning and is also currently tied for the longest active in AHL this season. Additionally, Peter Abbandonato (0+2) and Henry Bowlby (1+1) chipped in a pair of points while Gabriel Fortier and Ryan Lohin rounded out the scoring.
Goaltender Samuel Montembeault (8-4-1) improved to 5-0-1 in six appearances this season against Rochester as he made 22 saves.
Facing a 3-0 deficit with 5:11 left in the opening period, the Amerks, much like last night's contest against Utica, did not go away quietly.
After retrieving a chip-in along the right side of the offensive zone from Gates, Jr., Elie carried the puck on his forehand towards Montembeault. As he protected the puck from the defender behind him, Elie skated in front of the netminder before roofing a shot to get the Amerks on the scoreboard at the 17:39 mark.
Gates, Jr.'s assist gives him four points (1+3) in his last three games while Hawkins earned his third point (1+2) in his first three games since joining the club back on April 20.
Prior to the intermission, Rochester was able to pull within one as Franco blasted a one-time feed from Warren as he was parked atop the right point. The goal with 15 seconds left in the frame was Warren's first assist as an Amerk as was for DeSimone.
During the second period, the Amerks kept pressing for the equalizer as they outshot the Crunch 7-1 in the opening 9:55, and then at the 13:39 mark, knotted the game at 3-3.
As Smith entered the Syracuse zone off a pass from DeSimone, he skated into the left face-off dot before dishing a pass to the opposite point to Mersch. The veteran forward and four-time 20-goal scorer patiently waited before snapping home the game-tying goal from Smith and DeSimone.
With the assist, Smith has totaled 11 points (3+8) in 10 games in Rochester this season, including eight points (1+7) in his last seven appearances.
The game remained deadlocked at three goals apiece until the Crunch capitalized on their second power-play of the night with just 1:02 left in the second stanza.
The Amerks did not let Syracuse generate much offensively in the first half of the infraction but Katchouk captured the attention of the penalty killers before centering a pass to Raddysh in-between the dots.
During the final 20 minutes of regulation, Syracuse clamped down defensively as they held the Amerks to a season-low two shots on net before Katchouk sealed the 5-3 victory as Lekkas was pulled for the extra-attacker.
The Amerks continue their three-game road swing on Wednesday, April 30 with a North Division matchup against the intrastate rival Utica Comets at the Adirondack Bank Center. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: R. Elie (9), D. Franco (4), M. Mersch (8)
SYR: H. Bowlby (3), G. Fortier (5), R. Lohin (3), T. Raddysh (9 - GWG), B. Katchouk (11)
ROC: B. Christopoulos - 2/5 (ND) | S. Lekkas - 23/24 (L)
SYR: S. Montembeault - 19/22 (W)
ROC: PP (0/1) | PK (1/2)
SYR: PP (1/2) | PK (1/1)
1. H. Bowlby (SYR)
2. P. Abbandonato (SYR)
3. N. DeSimone (ROC)
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