Amerks Win Streak Snapped in 5-2 Loss to Crunch
(Rochester, NY) ... Despite a pair of power-play points from Casey Mittelstadt (1+1) and Jacob Bryson (0+2), the Rochester Americans (27-14-2-4) dropped a 5-2 contest to the North Division rival Syracuse Crunch (22-21-3-3) Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the loss, the Amerks were unable to extend their season-long win streak to seven games, but remain in second place in the AHL's North Division standings behind only the Belleville Senators.
Mittelstadt tallied his seventh goal of the season to go with an assist while Bryson added his 16 and 17th helpers of the campaign for Rochester, which owns an 11-6-1-1 record in its last 19 contests against the Crunch dating back to the 2017-18 campaign. Forward Jean-Sebastien Dea notched his team-leading 14th marker in the third frame while rookie netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-2-1) made 25 saves but suffered the loss.
Alex Barre-Boulet collected a game-high three-point night with a goal and two assists while Gemel Smith and Cal Foote collected two goals and two assists, respectively. Mathieu Joseph and Danick Martel completed the scoring. Goaltender Spencer Martin stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced to improve to 8-11-3.
After Mittelstadt gave the Amerks a 1-0 lead they carried into the first intermission, the Crunch responded with the game's next four goals and boasted a 4-1 advantage at the 11:40 mark of the third period.
"We just didn't have it tonight," explained Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. "It's unfortunate because it was at home and against a divisional rival and you want to be ready for the game."
"I thought we were fumbling pucks, lost a lot of face-offs, lost a lot 50-50 battles, and they were just more determined," Taylor continued.
"We didn't seem to have our legs," admitted Bryson. "It was probably one of our worst games we've layed this season."
Smith evened the tilt at 1-1 in the dying seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage while Joseph redirected a shot just inside the left post to give the Crunch their first lead of the night with 5:02 to go in the middle period.
After Rochester was called for icing, Barre-Boulet wired his 19th goal of the slate 6:07 into the third stanza before Martel snapped in a shot to push the score to a three-goal margin five minutes later.
"If we want to win games and have success, we have to stay out of the penalty box, including myself," Bryson said. "I took an unlucky penalty in the second period, but as the season continues and then into the playoffs, special teams gets more important. You saw that tonight as there were a lot of special teams goals."
Rochester did not go away quietly, though, as they drew its third man-advantage of the evening, and much like the first, capitalized with the extra skater to bring the Amerks within a pair of goals with just over seven minutes left in regulation. After receiving a pass from Bryson, Mittelstadt dished a cross-ice, one-time feed to Dea atop the left face-off dot and the forward, who just returned from his second recall with Buffalo, blasted a shot past the blocker of Martin.
"We got into a little bit of penalty trouble in the second period," Mittelstadt said. "We sat back on our heels, and when we have success, we are team that plays on our toes. We have to play faster and generate offense, two things we did not do tonight."
Facing a 4-2 deficit, Taylor pulled his rookie netminder, but moments later Smith sealed the 5-2 win as he added his 19th of the season and second of the game into the empty net.
"It happens during the course of the season," said Dea about the loss. "We lost a lot of games in a row and then won a bunch in a row. We are not going to win every game, but we have to take the lessons on why we lost tonight and make sure not to repeat them again moving forward."
The Amerks conclude the weekend north of the border on Saturday, Feb. 8 with a 4:00 p.m. matchup against the Toronto Marlies at Coca-Cola Coliseum. The contest will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
Amerks forward Casey Mittelstadt - https://youtu.be/USisJEsq9bM
Amerks defenseman Jacob Bryson - https://youtu.be/9rg1wSlqh74
Amerks forward Jean-Sebastien Dea - https://youtu.be/WKdntnXAGHg
Amerks head coach Chris Taylor - https://youtu.be/KegUo-V_P1M
ROC: C. Mittelstadt (7), J. Dea (14)
SYR: G. Smith (18, 19), M. Joseph (4), A. Barre-Boulet (19 - GWG), D. Martel (16)
ROC: U. Luukkonen - 25/29 (L)
SYR: S. Martin - 22/24 (W)
ROC: PP (2/3) | PK (2/3)
SYR: PP (1/3) | PK (1/3)
1. A. Barre-Boulet (SYR)
2. G. Smith (SYR)
3. C. Mittelstadt (ROC)
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