Defenseman Nick Crawford scored two goals in regulation before netting the shootout-winning goal to give the Rochester Americans a 4-3 shootout victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on the road Friday night. The game was the final preseason outing for the Amerks, who will open the 2012-13 regular season at home on Friday, Oct. 12 against the Syracuse Crunch.
Second-year pro Phil Varone, Rochester’s leading scorer last season, also scored in Friday’s win over the Penguins. Rookie goaltenders Connor Knapp and Nathan Lieuwen split time in net for the Amerks, with Lieuwen earning credit for the win. Knapp stopped 15 of 16 shots, while Lieuwen turned aside 16 of 18 shots in regulation and overtime before stopping three of four shootout attempts.
Early in the first period, Amerks forward Jonathan Parker had an opportunity to break free from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense, but was hauled down from behind by Denver Manderson, resulting in the first penalty of the contest. Rochester capitalized on the ensuing power-play, however, as Crawford found the back of the net at the 4:09 mark to put the Amerks up 1-0. Crawford, after taking a hard hit in the neutral zone while leading the offensive rush, recovered to finish the play with a floater from the high slot through traffic that eluded Pengiuns goalie Brad Thiessen and found the upper left corner. T.J. Brennan and Marcus Foligno collected the assists on the power-play tally, marking Rochester’s fourth of the 2012 preseason.
The Penguins tied the game up at 14:40 of the opening frame as Eric Tangradi’s shot from the right faceoff dot banked off the left post and in behind Connor Knapp for his first of the preseason. Despite Rochester’s several clearing attempts, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Philippe Dupuis managed to keep the puck inside the blue line and found Tangradi open along the right half-wall for the equalizer. Warren Peters also earned an assist on the play.
The Amerks regained the lead late in the second period when Parker found Frederick Roy with a back-door pass at the far post for an easy tap-in. Roy made a nifty move at the left half-wall to evade his defender and get to the front of the net for the go-ahead tally at the 15:15 mark.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton soon battled back, though, this time taking advantage of a Rochester defensive zone turnover with 27 seconds left on the clock. An attempted clearing pass caromed off the skate of a Penguins forward and landed on the stick of Dupuis, who was stationed to the right of Lieuwen. Dupuis, left uncontested, lifted the puck over the outstretched arms of Lieuwen to make it a 2-2 game heading into the final frame.
The Penguins took their first lead of the night with a power-play goal of their own from Trevor Smith at 11:59 of the third period. With Varone in the box serving a hooking minor, Smith was able to gain possession of the puck in front of the net and beat Lieuwen with a shot off the left post for a 3-2 Penguins advantage.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as Crawford struck again just minutes later to knot the game at three apiece. Crawford, after collecting the loose puck at the blue line, gained entry into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton zone, stepped around one defender and snapped a well-placed shot over the left shoulder of goaltender Patrick Killeen to force overtime.
After a scoreless overtime period, Crawford struck yet again, this time beating Thiessen in the shootout to clinch an Amerks victory. Parker and Varone also scored on their shootout attempts. Rochester finishes its preseason schedule with a 1-1-0-0 record after a home-and-home series with the Penguins.
Full-Season, Half-Season and 12-Game ticket packages, along with individual game tickets, for the 2012-13 season are now on sale. Rochester will open its 57th season in the American Hockey League on Friday, Oct. 12 when it hosts the Syracuse Crunch at The Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m. For more information, visit www.amerks.com or call 1-855-GO-AMERKS.