Courtesy of Amerks.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Rochester Americans (2-0-0-0) closed out their opening weekend of the 2017-18 season with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory against the Syracuse Crunch (0-1-1-0) at the War Memorial Arena Saturday night.
Rookie C.J. Smith notched his first-career professional multi-point effort with a goal and assist to pace the Amerks to the win while second-year forward Kyle Criscuolo and team-captain Kevin Porter, who appeared in his 100th career game as an Amerk, each bagged their first markers of the slate for Rochester. Goaltender Adam Wilcox, who made his Amerks debut, earned his first victory of the season as he stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced on the night.
The Crunch were led by defenseman Ben Thomas as he plotted a pair of assists while Cory Conacher and Kevin Lynch each netted their first goals of the campaign. Meanwhile, rookie netminder Connor Ingram, who made his AHL/pro debut, took the loss.
As the Crunch tied the contest at 2-2 with 8:09 left in the third period thanks to Lynch’s tally and the Amerks unable to capitalize on their fifth and sixth power plays of the night, the North Division showdown required an overtime period.
On the opening shift into the extra session, Porter tracked down a wide Syracuse shot that rolled the length of the ice and into the left corner. The wisely-veteran picked up the puck and used Justin Bailey as a decoy before firing the puck off the right post and into the net to give the Amerks a 3-2 victory.
The victory marks the first-time Rochester has opened the season with two consecutive wins since the 2006-07 campaign, when the Amerks began the slate a perfect 7-0-0-0.
The Amerks got the victory but the contest did not start well as they were held without a shot until the 9:33 mark of the first period. Smith made the first one count though, as he flung a shot from the top of the faceoff dots to beat Ingram. The marker was a power-play goal with assists going to defensemen Taylor Fedun and Zach Redmond.
Six minutes later, however, Conacher exchanged a give-and-go pass in the Amerks with Thomas before the forward fired a shot into the net to tie the contest. The two clubs ended the opening stanza tied at 1-1 and combined to take 16 penalty minutes.
Much similar to last night’s tilt when the Amerks scored 1:06 into the second period, Criscuolo was able to regain the Rochester lead just 89 seconds into the stanza.
For the remaining 18:11 of the frame, each goaltender made timely saves for his respective club but it was the Amerks who took the 2-1 lead into the intermission break.
Lynch tied the game near the midway point of the third before Porter, who returned to Rochester after spending parts of three seasons with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Grand Rapids Griffins, delivered his first game-winning goal as an Amerk since April 4, 2014 versus the Binghamton Senators just 39 seconds into the overtime period to give Rochester the win and weekend sweep of the Crunch.
The Amerks return to action Friday Oct. 13 as they host the Utica Comets at The Blue Cross Arena and will look for their third straight win to begin the season for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign. The contest will have a 7:05 p.m. opening puck drop and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: C. Smith (1), Criscuolo (1), Porter (1)
SYR: C. Conacher (1), Lynch (1)
RCH: Wilcox – 26/28 (W)
SYR: Ingram – 15/18 (L)
RCH: PP (1/6) / PK (4/4)
SYR: PP (0/4) / PK (5/6)