Special Teams Propel Amerks to First Win of Season
(Rochester, NY) ... Aided by three power-play goals and a shorthanded marker, the Rochester Americans (1-2-0-0) earned their first win of the season with a 6-3 victory over the North Division rival Syracuse Crunch (1-1-0-0) Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
Defenseman Zach Redmond and rookie forward Victor Olofsson each recorded a game-high three points (1+2) for the Amerks while Kyle Criscuolo, Danny O'Regan, C.J. Smith and rookie Lawrence Pilut all added a goal and an assist. Former Syracuse goaltender Adam Wilcox, who made his season debut in the blue paint for Rochester, turned aside 30 shots to pick up his first win of the year.
Dennis Yan, Alex Barre-Boulet and Jonne Tammela all scored for the Crunch while netminder Eddie Pasquale stopped 27 of 33 but was dealt with the loss.
Following a first period where each of the North Division rivals scored a goal, Rochester's offense erupted for three markers in a span of 5:01 to claim a 4-1 lead.
"Getting the lead tonight was a big key," said Criscuolo. "Playing with the lead is a huge help. It's a lot easier when the team has the lead in hockey because the game comes to you rather than trying to chase the game."
Smith and Criscuolo teamed up for a shorthanded goal at the 12:55 mark of the stanza and once more to double the Amerks lead less than 97 seconds later.
"C.J. and I have played together every game plus with (Andrew) Oglevie, who adds some speed and grittiness, we seem to have some chemistry," explained Criscuolo.
Redmond added his first goal of the season from Pilut and Olofsson at the 12:06 mark to push the Amerks score to 4-1.
Syracuse trimmed the Amerks lead in half before the end of the half-way point of period as they made it 4-2.
Pilut, who currently leads all American Hockey League first-year defenseman with four points (2+2), regained Rochester's three-goal cushion as he roofed another power-play goal 2:55 into the third period.
"We don't want to count on special teams to win us games, but we have some skill and young guys who know what they are doing on those units," said Redmond when talking about the power-play and shorthanded teams.
"It was a good step for us and to help build our confidence."
The cross-town foes traded goals during the final 17:05 which included Olofsson's first-career AHL goal, but Rochester did not let the visitors get any closer as they doubled up Syracuse for a 6-3 victory.
"It was a great night," Olofsson said after the win. "We played great as a team and it feels great to get that first goal. Every game and each day, I'm getting used to the smaller ice."
Of the eight Rochester skaters to record a point, six posted a multi-point effort while all but one of the Amerks registered a shot on net.
"It's good for everyone's confidence," said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. "We didn't have a great start, but Wilcox played well and kept us into the game. As the game went on, I thought we scored some timely goals and got some key saves. It was a great win."
The Amerks travel to Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, Oct. 10 for the first of back-to-back meetings with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The afternoon matinee is slated for a 1:00 p.m. start and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
ROC: O'Regan (1), Smith (2), Criscuolo (1), Redmond (1), Pilut (2), Olofsson (1)
SYR: Barre-Boulet (2), Tammela (1), Yan (1)
ROC: Wilcox - 30/33 (W)
SYR: Pasquale - 27/33 (L)
ROC: PP (3/4) | PK (7/8)
SYR: PP (1/8) | PK (1/4)
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