The Rochester Americans’ four-game winning streak came to an end on Friday night at the War Memorial at Oncenter, where the Amerks dropped a 4-3 decision to the Syracuse Crunch. It marked just the second loss over the last nine games for the Amerks.
After skating to a 2-2 tie through the first 40 minutes of play, the Amerks and Crunch traded third period goals before a power-play tally by Syracuse’s Nick Schaus with just over three minutes remaining proved to be the difference.
Rochester received goals from Paul Szczechura, Evan Rankin and Colin Stuart while Phil Varone contributed a pair of assists. Between the pipes, David Leggio turned away 32 of 36 shots while starting for the ninth consecutive game.
Brandon McMillan lit the lamp twice for Syracuse while Jean-Francois Jacques and Peter Holland each chipped in two assists. Mathieu Carle and Schaus rounded out the goal-scoring for the Crunch and netminder Iiro Tarkki finished with 23 saves.
The Amerks quickly jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 1:21 into the contest, as Szczechura poked home a loose puck at the goal-mouth. Off the rush, Luke Adam split the Crunch defenders and let a shot go that rebounded right to Szczechura, who netted his 15th goal of the season. Adam and Derek Whitmore each picked up an assist on the goal.
Syracuse knotted things up at 6:34 of the period when McMillan potted his 11th of the season. After taking a drop pass from Holland, McMillan fired a high snap-shot from the left circle that glanced off the right post and into the back of the net.
The Crunch opened up a 2-1 advantage at 3:57 of the second period, as the puck was turned over in the slot to Riley Holzapfel, who immediately fed McMillan at the right circle for the goal. But a power-play goal from Rankin less than three minutes later evened the score at two apiece for the Amerks.
Stationed at the right side of the net, Rankin swept home the rebound of a TJ Brennan shot for his ninth of the season and 200th professional point. Varone also collected an assist.
Rochester grabbed a 3-2 lead at 6:54 of the third period, as Stuart came away with the puck in a goal-mouth scramble and shoveled it behind Tarkki to score his ninth of the season on assists by Varone and Alex Biega.
Syracuse answered back to tie the game once again with 8:49 remaining in regulation. Creeping in from the right-point, Carle received a pass from Ryan O’Marra and fired it in.
Schaus then scored the game-winning goal at the 16:51 mark of the final frame, sending a cross-ice pass from Patrick Maroon into the vacant side of the net as Syracuse capitalized on a power-play chance to take a 4-3 lead.
The Amerks and Binghamton Senators will face-off for the third time in nine nights with a St. Patrick’s Day battle in Binghamton on Saturday at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the seventh of eight meetings between the intrastate foes and will be carried live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.