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Rochester Americans Fall to Syracuse

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Amerks' effort falls flat in second period, leads to 2-1 loss

Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Generally, a hockey game is composed of - at the very least - 60 minutes of play.

When the AHL's Rochester Americans and Syracuse Crunch met in Buffalo on Wednesday night, ten seconds - just 10 of the 3,600 seconds that made up the game - made all the difference. That's all it took for Syracuse to strike twice in the 2-1 win.

Just over three minutes into the game, the Amerks found themselves on the disadvantage as Zach Redmond took a cross-checking penalty. Despite being a man down, Rochester found the back of the net; West Seneca native Sean Malone scored off a 2-on-1 to put his team up 1-0.

"It's special to score a goal here, in front of a lot of family and friends who came out to support," Malone said after the game.

Malone, playing in his first AHL season, called the transition from college hockey "an eye-opener," but noted the group of veteran players on the Amerks as a key group that has helped him.

Despite several more penalties, Rochester was able to maintain their lead through the opening 20 minutes, and even nearly went up 2-0 on a nifty play when Justin Bailey sped his way to the net, but shot the puck high.

Although it didn't result in a goal, the flash of speed was something Bailey can look to do more of in the future.

"I think I can really put the D [defense] on their heels and create chances like that more often," he said after Wednesday's game.

Syracuse came out to play in the middle frame, scoring twice in a span of just 10 seconds to tie the game and take the lead.

Less than 90 seconds into the period, Mitchell Stephens scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season to tie the game at one. Carter Verhaeghe and Dominik Masin assisted.

Just ten seconds later, the Amerks found themselves down as Matthew Peca put the Crunch up. Verhaeghe notched his second assist of the night, with Mat Bodie tallying the other helper.

The goals died down from that point, but the shots kept coming. The Crunch outshot the Amerks 14-3 in the second period, but Linus Ullmark kept Rochester in the game.

What happened in the second period?

"Nothing," said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. "Obviously, we looked slow, couldn't get the puck out of the zone, a lot of turnovers in the neutral zone."

"The second period was really bad. I don't even know what to say about it," Taylor added.

After leaving the ice to a chorus of boos from the fans in the stands, the Amerks returned for a third period that didn't start off much better. It took nearly eight minutes of the period for Rochester to notch even one shot on goal.

The Amerks had a few good chances on a power play midway through the period, but couldn't hit the back of the net as Connor Ingram stayed strong in goal for the Crunch. Rochester even had a four-minute man advantage late in the period and put some shots on net, but to no avail.

"I thought our response was good in the third, but against a good team like that... they don't give you much," Bailey said. "You've got to make sure you bring it for a full 60."

Overall, the Amerks went 0-for-5 on the power play, but held the Crunch scoreless on four of their own power play chances, which is one positive to take away from the loss.

The Amerks have won just four of their last 17 contests.

"Any time you go through a winning streak or a losing streak, it's internally up to them [the players] to get guys back on track, or keep them on track," Taylor said. "A coach can only do so much. Internally, if guys are talking to them, helping each other out, that's what's going to turn this thing around."

"Can’t start doing all the fancy stuff before you work hard, grind, get the puck deep and that’s what we’ve been struggling with the last couple games," Ullmark said.

"We're in a funk right now, and you've got to stay positive," Taylor said.

One positive from Wednesday night's loss: Ullmark. Taylor had this to say about the 24-year-old:

"The leadership from him, to me, is just tremendous.

"I just said to everybody, this guy's going to be unbelievable in the NHL. It's great how far he's come, and tonight just showed how really good of a goaltender he is," Taylor said.

Next up, Rochester faces a home-and-home series with the Toronto Marlies on Friday and Saturday. The Marlies dropped a 3-1 decision to the Binghamton Senators on Wednesday morning.

"Teams go through stretches, even the best teams," said defenseman Brendan Guhle. "We've got to keep working, we've got to keep trying to enjoy coming to the rink every day, and we'll get out of it."