The Rochester Americans opened their 64th season in the American Hockey League on Friday night, when they played host to their North Division rivals, the Syracuse Crunch.
Opening up at home granted the Blue Cross Arena faithful the opportunity to get their first look at the 2019-20 edition of their local club.
After the first period was in the books, it was more than evident that the Rochester Americans needed to take the first intermission solely to shake off the rust of the preseason.
Despite only trailing 11-10 in shots, the Americans found themselves behind the eight ball when it came to offensive possession and overall effectiveness throughout most of the period. Missed passes and an overall lack of ability to create extended offensive pressure dogged the Americans.
Thanks in part to some great goaltending from Andrew Hammond, the Americans and Crunch were scoreless heading into the second period.
Something must have changed during the first intermission, clearly.
The Americans came out with their hair on fire and controlled the offensive pace from the opening puck drop of the second period.
It did not take long for the Americans to capitalize on their offensive pressure.
Just 30 seconds into the second period, Tage Thompson found himself with the puck deep in the offensive zone. Instead of firing a contested shot, Thompson hesitated and appeared ready to put his signature move on display – the toe drag.
Instead, Thompson held up.
The patience by Thompson caused the two Crunch defenders directly in front of him to hesitate ever so slightly. This led to an opportunity.
Thompson would not be denied here, netting his first goal of the season. The Americans would lead 1-0 after a half a minute into the second.
Rochester would continue to turn up the offensive pressure until an untimely slashing penalty from Casey Fitzgerald would allow Syracuse a golden opportunity.
With only one second left in their man advantage, Syracuse’s Cory Conacher launched a rocket of a shot from the faceoff dot to the left of Americans’ goaltender Andrew Hammond.
Conacher’s rising shot beat Hammond high glove side.
Conacher’s first of the season, at 8:30 of the second period, tied the game at 1-1.
Aside from the two goals, opportunities would be limited for both sides for most of the second period - evident by the 14 combined shots (9-5 Rochester) in the entire period.
Sloppy play, as expected in the season opening game, allowed both teams to seize an opportunity to steal a win just by winning the third period itself.
Rochester’s start to the third period mirrored their fast second period start.
A Zach Redmond point shot, redirected from Scott Wilson to the wide-open stick of Andrew Oglevie gave Rochester the advantage.
Oglevie would not miss a wide-open net. His first goal of the season, at 1:30 of the third period, would put Rochester up 2-1.
Syracuse would get momentum back in their favor as the period progressed – continuing with the underlying flow of the game.
Midway through the third, referees called a faceoff violation on the Rochester Americans. A very upset Kevin Porter engaged in a spirited debate but to no avail.
This would be a golden opportunity for Syracuse, one which they would not pass up.
With less than 30 seconds left in the man advantage, the Crunch scored the equalizing goal off the stick of Danick Martel.
Martel’s first goal of the season, at 11:24 of the third period, knotted the game up at 2.
Syracuse would get another great chance at taking a lead, when they were awarded a penalty shot minutes after their second goal.
Fortunately for Rochester, the shooter was unable to maintain a grip on the puck.
This matchup would ultimately require a 3-on-3 overtime period to determine a winner. What a treat that proved to be for fans.
High pressure chances being exchanged back and forth had fans on the edge of their seats.
Rochester was able to gain the upper hand in the final minute of the extra frame.
Zach Redmond was able to get the puck to Rasmus Asplund, who nearly missed a rushing Tage Thompson.
Thompson touched the puck but it appeared to ricochet off the goaltender and into the net for the game-winning goal.
Either way, Thompson was credited with his second goal of the game at 4:17 of overtime.
Rochester begins the season 1-0-0-0 with two points and will find themselves in action next on Friday, October 11 at the Springfield Thunderbirds.