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The Rochester Americans were able to squeak out a 6-5 victory over the Syracuse Crunch via a Mark Mancari shootout goal.
The Rochester Americans looked like they were going to cruise through their home opener. Corey Tropp scored 26 seconds into the game and the Americans had a 3-1 lead coming out of the first period. But, the roster of the Crunch didn't win the Calder Cup last year for nothing and they were destined to put up a fight. The Crunch scored four straight goals in an eleven minute period to take a 5-4 lead with 9:51 left in the game.
Mark Mancari stepped up to save the game for Rochester. He first scored the game-tying goal on a five on three power play with 7:18 left in the third period. He then turned around and scored the lone shootout goal by wristing a shot over the right shoulder of Dustin Tokarski to secure the extra point for Rochester.
The regular Sabres gave the Rochester fans a peek of what's to come if they are going to be on the roster for an extended period of time. Cody Hodgson looked impressive with one assist in the game. He made a couple of nice dekes around Crunch defenders to get teammates some open shots and Corey Tropp was the early beneficiary. Tropp scored two goals in the first period before he left in the third period with an apparent leg injury. Marcus Foligno was easily the fan favorite among the Rochester faithful and he rewarded them with a late first period goal as well. He finished the game with a goal and an assist.
Not everything was roses and sunshine for the Americans though. The defense had a hard time getting the puck out of the offensive zone at times and the offense generated five shots on goal in thirty minutes of game play. That allowed the Crunch to get back into the game and make it closer than what it probably should have been. Tyler Johnson scored twice in the third period, including a power play goal that gave them the 5-4 lead with ten minutes left in the game.
Even though the Syracuse Crunch are a completely different roster from what they were last year, the rivalry between these two teams could grow very quickly. The game was physical from the start and the sixty combined penalty minutes, which included four fighting majors, is only a start of a long season between these two teams. They will have nine more games against each other this season.
The Americans hopped on a bus and headed down the QEW to take on the Toronto Marlies on Saturday at 5 pm.