Schaller, Ullmark Lead Amerks Past Crunch
(Syracuse, NY) - Tim Schaller registered his second career hat trick and Linus Ullmark stopped a season-high 51 shots to lead the Rochester Americans to a 6-2 dismantling of the Syracuse Crunch Saturday night at the War Memorial Arena. The Amerks have now won two straight on the weekend and have claimed five of the first seven meetings against the Crunch this season to improve to 25-24-2-1 overall.
The line of Schaller, Justin Bailey and William Carrier was again on display tonight as the trio combined for nine points on the night. Schaller notched his first three-goal game since Apr. 5, 2014 and added an assist for a four-point night while Bailey collected three assists and Carrier chipped in two points (1+1) as the Amerks moved into sole possession of fifth place in the American Hockey League's North Division standings. Schaller now has 13 points (7+6) in his last 13 games dating back to Dec. 30.
Dan Catenacci also scored for the second straight game to extend his current point streak to a season and career-long seven straight games and Nick Baptiste added his eighth of the season to round out the scoring for Rochester. Jason Akeson tallied two assists to become the first Amerk this season to reach the 30-point mark and Chad Ruhwedel recorded an assist for the third straight game. A night after making 43 saves in a 2-1 overtime win over Portland on Friday, Ullmark's 51 stops tonight is the highest league-wide among any AHL goaltender this season. The former Swedish Goalie of the Year, who has 94 combined saves in back-to-back wins this weekend, has now won three of his last five starts to go along with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage over that span.
Mike Blunden provided both Syracuse goals, including one on the power-play, while Jeff Tambellini, Matt Taormina, Yanni Gourde and Anthony DeAngelo recorded an assist. Adam Wilcox and Kristers Gudlesvkis combined to make 29 saves in the loss for the Crunch, who have now dropped 10 of their last 11 contests, including three to Rochester over that stretch.
Ullmark was excellent from the start for the Amerks, stopping all 22 shots he faced in the first period from an unrelenting Syracuse team that came into the matchup having dropped nine of its previous 10. Ullmark was tested early and often by the Crunch, but the rookie netminder came up big each time with an impressive series of saves, including a spectacular, highlight reel stop on an attempt from Tanner Richard during a Crunch power-play. Richard corralled a cross-ice feed from Taormina and snapped a shot from in-between the circles that appeared to have Ullmark beat to the short-side. Ullmark, however, flashed his glove at the last second to snare the one-timer out of the air and rob the Syracuse forward of a sure goal.
Despite the shot count heavily in favor of the home team, it was Rochester getting on the board first with 1:03 remaining in the opening period as Schaller grabbed a loose puck from the left of the crease and steered in his 11th of the season to send the Amerks into the break up 1-0.
Rochester came out firing to start the second, scoring three times through the first 3:56 to build a commanding 4-0 lead. Schaller sparked the three-goal run just 69 seconds into the middle frame when he capitalized on a set-up from Bailey on the power-play before newcomer Collin Bowman forced a long-range rebound off of Wilcox, allowing Baptiste to tap home his eighth of the year.
Schaller completed the hat trick just 1:22 later while giving the Amerks their largest lead of the night. With Rochester again on the power-play, Ruhwedel wound up from the high point and unloaded a blast that Schaller was able to redirect inside the left post.
Blunden brought the Crunch to within two courtesy of back-to-back goals, tipping in a Taormina point shot at 9:14 and picking the upper corner off a feed from Gourde at 9:33 of the third.
It would be as close as Syracuse would come, though, as Carrier tapped home his seventh of the year at 13:21 before Catenacci added any empty-netter with 3:35 remaining to seal the 6-2 win for the Amerks.
Rochester brings the weekend to a close on Sunday, Feb. 21 as the Amerks welcome the first-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins back to The Blue Cross Arena for the only time this season. Game time is set for 5:05 p.m. and can be heard live on FOX Sports 1280 Rochester.
RCH: Schaller (10, 11, 12) Baptiste (8), Carrier (7), Catenacci (9)
SYR: Blunden (15, 16)
RCH: Ullmark - W (51/53)
SYR: Wilcox - L (13/17) / Gudlevskis (16/17)
Amerks Power Play: 2-2
Amerks Penalty Kill: 4-5
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