The third time was the charm for the Rochester Americans as they won their first game of the young AHL season with a 6-2 victory over their North Division rivals the Syracuse Crunch.
Following a poor showing on both Friday and Saturday of opening weekend, there were questions about what went wrong. Where was all the scoring? Why did the defense disappear? Wednesday night in Rochester, a slightly retooled Amerks lineup took the ice and - after a shaky start - thoroughly dominated the Crunch for the last 50 minutes of action.
Coach Chris Taylor made a few lineup tweaks as Scott Wedgewood, Myles Powell, Yannick Veilleux, and Brandon Hickey were replaced by Adam Wilcox, Justin Bailey, Tyler Randell, and Andrew MacWilliam.
Syracuse had complete control of the game for the first 10 minutes, outshooting Rochester 6-1 early and controlling the puck for the majority of that time, but then the Amerks would find themselves on the fortunate side of a 5v3 power play situation that completely flipped the momentum of the game.
Early in the PP, Danny O’Regan collected an errant Alex Nylander shot and banked it in off the backside of Crunch goalie Eddie Pasquale to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead. They would maintain that lead until late in the first when the Crunch scored their first goal with a mere 0.9 seconds remaining in the period. Teams entered the 1st intermission knotted at 1 goal a piece.
It remained 1-1 until the Amerks broke things open 7 minutes into the 2nd period. While killing off their fourth penalty of the game, Kyle Criscuolo and CJ Smith got the jump on the Crunch and Criscy pushed a perfect pass to Smith who would net the shorthanded goal.
Not quite three minutes later, the same two players would flip it and reverse it, as Smith capitalized on a NZ turnover and fed Criscuolo for his first of the year.
The Amerks weren’t done yet. While on a PP, Zach Redmond launched one of his patented rockets from the point and beat Pasquale top shelf for his first of the year.
Reds sent it top shelf pic.twitter.com/2vx2hylKl3— Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) October 11, 2018
Three goals in five minutes saw the Amerks take a 4-1 lead, but Syracuse would answer just under 50 seconds later. The second intermission found Rochester with a 4-2 lead.
Almost three minutes into the third period, with the Amerks on the PP, Lawrence Pilut continued his strong start to the season by scoring his second goal of the year (and second point of the night). He drifted in to the top of the circles and launched a one-timer (see recap video below).
About five minutes later, the real fireworks began as Victor Olofsson scored his first North American goal off a great feed from Danny O’Regan. The goal was trademark Olofsson and all Amerks and Sabres fans hope to see much more of this in the future.
Syracuse added a garbage time goal with about 15 seconds left and the Amerks would skate away with the 6-3 win on home ice.
Final Score: Rochester 6 - Syracuse 3
Final SOG: Rochester 33 - Syracuse 33
PP/PK: Rochester PP 3-for-4 and PK 7-for-8
Rochester Goals: O’Regan (1), Smith (2), Criscuolo (1), Redmond (1), Pilut (2), Olofsson (1)
Syracuse Goals: Barre-Boulet (2), Tammela (1), Yan (1)
Three Stars of the Game (Media)
- Zach Redmond (1G, 2A)
- Victor Olofsson (1G, 2A)
- Kyle Criscuolo (1G, 1A)
Three Stars of the Game (steelopus)
- Adam Wilcox
- Victor Olofsson
- Zach Redmond
Full Amerks Recap Video
My Miscellaneous Notes
- This was the first of TWELVE games between these two teams this season. It’s going to be a long and grueling battle for North Division seeding.
- It must have felt good for the team to put up 6 goals on the same Crunch squad that put up 6 goals on them in their three previous consecutive meetings - last season’s playoff sweep.
- Adam Wilcox kept the Amerks in this game. He was the difference early while Syracuse had control and then he was lights-out and virtually unbeatable for the rest of the game. His rebound control was tremendous, and by that I mean I don’t recall him giving up ANY rebounds until that final garbage time goal.
- Welcome back Andrew MacWilliam. He was paired with Will Borgen and the two formed a formidable wall at the blue line. Both Mac and Borgen are aggressive physical defenders and their presence was certainly felt by the Crunch.
- Eric Cornel quietly had one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play. He centered the 4th line alongside Bailey and Randell. Cornel generated a few excellent scoring chances including two very heavy shots that created rebound opportunities. His path to the NHL will certainly be difficult being so far down the depth chart at center, but any value he can show the coaches and management is good value.
- Zach Redmond continues to be one of the best moves Jason Botterill has made for the organization as a whole. He led the Amerks in scoring last year after coming over in the Deslauriers trade, and he signed an organization-friendly AHL-only 2-year deal last summer that showed a real commitment to the Amerks. He has continued where he left off last year, as his 4 points is currently tied for the team lead with...
- ...Victor Olofsson. We’ve been waiting to see him score a highlight reel goal (which is pretty much the only type he scores), and tonight he delivered. You can see a better video of his goal in the recap video above at the 5:35 mark. He also added two assists. We’re all hoping this kid continues to blossom into the late-round steal we’re expecting him to be.
- Rasmus Asplund had another relatively quiet game and that’s probably what we should come to expect from him in his future. With that said, he’s been paired up with Olofsson so far this season and tonight it was apparent that they’re starting to find some chemistry. Once these two kids get fully in sync, I think we can expect to see some special goals, particularly when Olofsson has some space. DOR has been their RW and he seems like a good choice for this situation, as he alone is skilled enough to draw defenders away from his linemates.
- Outside of a beautiful spin-o-rama move in the 1st period to fool a Crunch forward on a D-zone-exit, Brendan Guhle was pretty invisible tonight, and that’s a good thing, as he was visibly not great in the first two games.
- I should mention that the attendance tonight was abysmal. The official reported attendance was 2,394, but that’s clearly an inflated figure. I’d put the number of actual butts in seats at about 500. A 75ºF Wednesday night in October might be partly to blame, but the Amerks poor start plus a lot of negative press about the new Blue Cross Arena fan experience surely also played a roll.
“Who’s ready for some Amerks hockeeeey?”— steelopus (@steelopus) October 10, 2018
Apparently 31 people are. pic.twitter.com/iapNKDOP6W
- About that fan experience, the arena, PSE, and arena operator Delaware North took some steps in the right direction tonight, re-opening a few familiar food stands, bringing back some familiar menu items, and reducing prices on a few other menu staples. They still have a long way to go, but we’ll consider this positive progress and hope for more in the future.
The Amerks are back in action this weekend with their first road trip of the season, playing two afternoon games in Bridgeport on Saturday/Sunday. I’ll be back on Monday with my first Amerks Weekly post of the year. See you then!