A decent first-period effort collapsed through the final forty minutes of action as the AHL’s Rochester Americans fell to the Utica Comets 6-3 in Tuesday’s series opener. With the win, Utica leads the best-of-five series 1-0.
Buffalo Sabres prospect Arttu Ruotsalainen had a pair of goals, including the opening tally on Rochester’s first shot of the game just 2:21 in. Ruotsalainen picked the top corner behind goaltender Nico Daws:
J-J Peterka doubled the lead a few short minutes later. The Amerks were on the power play after Samuel Laberge received a minor penalty following a bad hit on Mark Alt. Peterka picked his spot & made it look easy:
The first period was incredibly fast-paced, and the Amerks capitalized on their speed to carry a 2-0 lead into the intermission. There were only a handful of stoppages outside of the goals & penalties, but the physical side of the game picked up as the period headed towards its close.
Utica came out for the second period raging & wasted no time shutting the Amerks down. They put shot after shot on net, forcing Aaron Dell to make multiple big saves. Eventually, he couldn’t, and Tyce Thompson - Tage’s brother - put the Comets on the board amid a scramble around the net.
Not even a minute later, Robbie Russo tied the game.
Just as quickly as the game slipped out of Rochester’s hands, Ruotsalainen regained their lead with his second goal of the evening. The Amerks were being outshot 13-4 in the period at this point:
WHO ELSE?! ARTTU RUOTSALAINEN!!!— Die By The Blade (@diebytheblade) May 11, 2022
R2's second goal of the game regains Rochester's lead & we have a 3-2 game. It's been all Utica this period (shots 13-4) but this one is big. pic.twitter.com/J2fNxGzhtf
The lead lasted less than four minutes, however, as captain Ryan Schmelzer capitalized on an advantage and tied it back up for Utica, who outshot Rochester by a wild 20-5 margin in the second period.
The Comets then scored three times in the third period, including a pair of goals from A.J. Greer, and outshot the Amerks 15-8 en route to the 6-3 win. Final shots were 40-22 in favor of Utica.
A total of 50 penalty minutes were handed out between the two teams, including three 10-minute misconducts in the dying seconds of the game. More fisticuffs followed the final buzzer, and even more shortly after when some of the Comets players followed Amerks players toward the ice exit:
Cheap crosscheck from Nikita Okhotiuk as he followed some Rochester players toward their exit. More pushing & shoving ensues as a result. pic.twitter.com/ktXZc5Sdml— Die By The Blade (@diebytheblade) May 11, 2022
The good news - or perhaps not, depending on your philosophy - is that these teams now have a few days until the second game of the series. The Amerks are scheduled to have Wednesday off, then practice on Thursday and Friday in Rochester.
They’ll reconvene with the Comets for game two on Saturday in Utica (7 pm).