Most people will tell you that the Amerks were lucky to leave the ice with a win last night. I’m going to tell you a different story; last night, the Amerks persevered and earned a win.
Before I get too far I have to admit that the last 5 minutes of the game left me completely confused. Spoiler alert: the Amerks were leading 3-1 with 5 minutes remaining - but for some reason, in my mind, they were only leading 2-1. It probably had something to do with the fact that this game had absolutely zero flow thanks to the teams being called for a combined nineteen penalties - but back to my confusion. You see, I thought it was a 2-1 game, and then Wayne Simpson was called for a 4-minute double minor for high-sticking at 15:07 of the third. Laval would score 117 seconds later and that’s when my mind really started to panic.
They scored during the first half of the double minor which left them with a full two more minutes of power play time. In my mind, it was a 2-2 game with about three minutes remaining - and Laval starting another power play. The Amerks killed off that final penalty and drew a power play in the final minute. I anxiously watched, hoping they would score a late game winner. The clock expired; I prepared myself for overtime; the arena horn blasted; the crowd cheered; the video screen flashed “AMERKS WIN!”; I spent the next 10 seconds in completely confusion. Somehow I had completely forgotten that the Amerks scored a third goal earlier in the period and it came from the efforts of the fourth line. I was relieved.
Perseverance (n) - steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
It’s never fun for fans to watch a game in which the officials can’t seem to put the whistles away. Sure, some of the penalties last night were undeniable. Twice the Amerks were called for delay of game for chipping the puck over the glass - one of which, by Justin Bailey, sailed all the way to the opposite end of the arena and caught an unsuspecting young boy in the face. There were no reports of his status, but he seemed not-seriously injured when I saw his family carrying him out shortly after the incident. Otherwise, there were a flurry of stick infractions that were dubious at best for both teams.
When all was said and done, the Amerks power play - which was a top-3 unit in the league - went 0-for-6. However, their penalty kill - which was a bottom-3 unit in the league - went an impressive 10-for-12. The team’s greatest weakness stood tall in the second game of a back-to-back weekend. On tired legs, the Amerks persevered and mounted a thrilling third period comeback to win the game.
There was no scoring for the first half of the game before Laval’s Brett Kulak connected with a power play goal at 14:17 of the second period. Scott Wedgewood immediately shouted to the officials about goaltender interference. If the AHL had a review process, the Amerks likely would have won the challenge. You can see in the game highlights video that the player screening Wedgewood did make contact with his stick before the goal was scored. Regardless, no review was possible, and Laval would enter the intermission with a one goal lead.
Dalton Smith, however, had other ideas. Shortly before the period ended, Yannick Veilleux, playing against his former team for the first time, was called for a roughing penalty after a late hit. Before Veilleux could get involved in the ensuing scrum, Dalton Smith and Maxim Lamarche emerged from the pile. The fight was lopsided in Smith’s favor (check the video below) and it was exactly the change of momentum that the Amerks needed.
8 minutes into the third period, Zach Redmond connected for his team-leading sixth goal off a thread-the-needle pass from Taylor Fedun.
Just seventy-five seconds later, while killing yet another penalty, C.J. Smith took advantage of a horrible decision by Rocket goaltender Charlie Lindgren to score the go-ahead short-handed goal.
That brings us back to the point of my confusion. In reality, five minutes after C.J. Smith made it 2-1, the Amerks fourth line, the same line that sparked the momentum change at the end of the previous period, took to the ice and gave the Amerks a 3-1 lead. A shot from Dalton Smith caught Lindgren off guard and he let out a juicy rebound that Veilleux scooped up and dumped in.
That would prove to be the game winner (to everyone in the building other than me) and the Amerks closed out their weekend with another victory.
Final Score: Rochester 3 - Laval 2
Final SOG: Rochester 25 - Laval 39
PP/PK: Rochester PP 0-for-6 and PK 10-for-12
Rochester Goals: Redmond (6), C.J. Smith (4), Veilleux (1)
Laval Goals: Kulak (2), Agostina (4)
Three Stars of the Game (Media)
- Yannick Veilleux (1G)
- Zach Redmond (1G)
- Kenny Agostino [Laval] (1G)
Three Stars of the Game (steelopus)
- Scott Wedgewood
- Zach Redmond
- Dalton Smith
Full Amerks Recap Video
My Miscellaneous Notes
- Kyle Criscuolo, Matt Tennyson, and Tyler Randell all suffered lower body injuries in the previous game and their absence forced coach Chris Taylor to shuffle his lines for the first time in weeks. No word on the severity of any of those injuries. This was the first time the Amerks’ depth had been tested all season.
- Should Criscuolo miss any significant time, the Amerks might try to fast-track Sean Malone back into the lineup, but there have been no reports of him skating yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
- This was the quietest game we’ve seen from Victor Olofsson so far. It could’ve just been an off night, but it could also be the opposition starting to make adjustments for him now that there is plenty of video available from his red-hot start to the season. His point streak came to an end.
- It also was a quiet night from Alexander Nylander, who appeared to regress a bit from his improved play of late. Less hustle and a few extremely questionable puck decisions had me shaking my head more than a few times.
- Lawrence Pilut’s point streak was also halted, but he continued his excellent defensive play and put up big minutes on the PK (unfortunately the AHL is still in the stats dark-ages and doesn’t share TOI data).
- Brendan Guhle was leveled on multiple occasions by Laval’s towering Michael McCarron (6’6”/239lbs). That’ll be a battle to watch as the season progresses. If he continues to get blown up, either Guhle is going to have to stick up for himself, or a teammate might have to step in and go toe-to-toe with the big guy (Dalton Smith, for what it’s worth, is listed as 6’2”/205lbs).
The Amerks are off until next Friday night when Hershey will visit Rochester for the first time this season.