Amerks Drop Season Opener to Checkers
(Rochester, NY) ... The Rochester Americans (0-1-0-0) opened their 63rd American Hockey League season and 37th as the primary affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena, but it was the Charlotte Checkers (1-0-0-0) who earned a 6-2 victory in the first game of the 2018-19 campaign.
Rookie forward Lawrence Pilut made an immediate impact in his North American debut, leading led Rochester with a goal and an assist for a two-point night. Second-year forward and reigning Rookie of the Year C.J. Smith netted the other goal during the second period. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who also made his Rochester debut, made 33 saves.
Janne Kuokkanen had a game-high four points (2+2) for Charlotte, while Nicolas Roy (2+1), Andrew Poturalski (1+2) and Spencer Smallman (0+2) all turned in multi-point efforts. Roland McKeown rounded out the scoring while netminder Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 22 of 24 shots he faced to record his first win of the campaign.
The Checkers, who led the AHL in scoring last season, tallied a pair of goals 35 seconds apart during the first stanza and took a 2-0 lead into the intermission break.
Rochester, however, came out in the middle frame and Smith trimmed the lead to one as he ripped a shot over the glove just 32 seconds into the period. Pilut and Kyle Criscuolo teamed up to spring the Des Moines, Iowa, native into the offensive zone with Pilut recording his first AHL point on the marker.
Rochester drew its second power-play less than five minutes later and Pilut evened the game with his first AHL goal just 10 seconds into the infraction.
"Kevin Porter won the face-off back to me," said Pilut. "I waited it out to find a lane, then I saw one and shot the puck. Luckily for me, I had a screen in front and it when into the net."
Porter and Victor Olofsson, who also made his Amerk debut, each were awarded the helpers.
Charlotte, though, was quick to regain the lead with just 46 seconds left in the frame and took a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play.
"Any time you get scored on in the final minute of a period is tough," said Criscuolo. "No matter the game it's never easy, but we just have to look at the film and compete on every shift from top to bottom."
The Checkers silenced any thought of an Amerks comeback as they scored three goals during the first-half of the final frame and made it a 6-2 contest.
"We were not ready to play and it's on me and the leadership team," Porter said. "We dug ourselves a hole and we were able to battle back but credit them. They are a good team, but we made them look like NHL All-Stars tonight."
"It's disappointing," Amerks head coach Chris Taylor said. "It was disappointing how we started the game, but the only bright spot was Wedgewood all night."
Rochester had eight players make their Amerks debut, four of which made their AHL debuts.
The Amerks continue their three-game homestand to begin the 2018-19 season with a rematch against the Checkers on Saturday, Oct. 6 at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
ROC: Smith (1), Pilut (1)
CHA: Kuokkanen (1, 2), McKeown (1), Roy (1, 2), Poturalski (1)
ROC: Wedgewood - 33/39 (L)
CHA: Nedeljkovic - 22/24 (W)
ROC: PP (1/3) | PK (1/3)
CHA: PP (2/3) | PK (2/3)
• Discuss this story on the American Hockey League message board...
American Hockey League Stories from October 6, 2018
- Bears Drop Season Opener to Crunch, 3-2 - Hershey Bears
- Penguins Win Season Opener in a Shootout, 3-2 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Devils Outlast Marlies in Home Opener, 7-5 - Binghamton Devils
- P-Bruins Fall 3-2 in Home Opener - Providence Bruins
- Crunch Top Bears, 3-2, in Season Opener - Syracuse Crunch
- Hutchinson, Thompson Shine, But Penguins Prevail in Shootout - Springfield Thunderbirds
- Comets Earn Hard-Fought First Win of Season - Utica Comets
- Roy Scores Twice as Checkers Top Amerks 4-2 - Charlotte Checkers
- Sens Fall in Season Opener to Utica - Belleville Senators
- San Diego Gulls Sign Forwards Peter Sivak and Ryan Tesink to Professional Tryouts - San Diego Gulls
- San Diego Gulls Name Jaycob Megna Team Captain - San Diego Gulls
- Sikura Brothers Strike, But IceHogs Fall 5-2 to Cleveland - Rockford IceHogs
- Mikhail Berdin Reassigned to Jacksonville - Manitoba Moose
- Monsters Roll Past Rockford, 5-2 - Cleveland Monsters
- Game #1 Preview: Tucson vs. San Diego - Tucson Roadrunners
- O'Brien out After Undergoing Surgery - Belleville Senators
- Puck Drops on Admirals Season Tonight - Milwaukee Admirals
- Phantoms Loan G Komm & D Luukko to Reading Royals - Lehigh Valley Phantoms
- Marlies Look for Back to Back Wins on Opening Weekend - Toronto Marlies
- Heat Open up Home Schedule Tonight at 6PM at Stockton Arena - Stockton Heat
- Flames Recall Anthony Peluso - Stockton Heat
- Game Preview: Bears Host Syracuse in 2018-19 Home Opener - Hershey Bears
- Condors Home Tonight with $21 Jerseys - Bakersfield Condors
- Sound Tigers Open 18th Season this Weekend - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
- Senators Recall Leier from Brampton - Belleville Senators
- Game Day Build-Up: Senators at Comets, October 6 - Belleville Senators
- Delia Assigned to Rockford, Tomkins Assigned to Indy - Rockford IceHogs
- Barracuda Roll Past Reign 4-1 in Season Opener - San Jose Barracuda
- Condors Throttle Stockton in Opener, 8-1 - Bakersfield Condors
- Reign Falls in Season Opener - Ontario Reign
- Stingy Berube, Strong Third Period Lift Monsters over Hogs 4-1 - Rockford IceHogs
- Rychel Scores Heat First Goal in Loss - Stockton Heat
- Stars Spoil Simon's Debut - Grand Rapids Griffins
- Moose Open with a Loss at Iowa - Manitoba Moose
- Eagles Fall to Chicago in Overtime in AHL Debut - Colorado Eagles
- Iowa Wild Wins First Home Opener Since 2013 with 4-1 Victory - Iowa Wild
- Brannstrom, Wolves Take 25th Anniversary Season Opener - Chicago Wolves
- Stars Open 10th Anniversary Season with 3-1 Win - Texas Stars
- Amerks Drop Season Opener to Checkers - Rochester Americans
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.