The Rochester Americans saw their season-long five-game winning streak come to an end after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Abbotsford Heat today at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The matinee was the first of a two-game set between the North Division rivals, which continues on Wednesday in Western Canada.
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Ben Street (1+1) and Brett Carson (1+1) each scored a goal and an assist for the Heat, while Danny Taylor made 17 saves on 19 shots as Abbotsford remains in sole possession of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings with the win.
Frederick Roy and Nick Tarnasky provided the goals for the Amerks and goaltender Connor Knapp made 17 saves in his first start since Dec. 22. Jonathan Parker also collected two assists for Rochester, who despite today’s loss, has won seven of its last nine games and sits just four points behind the top-ranked Heat.
Rochester opened the scoring 3:50 into the contest as Roy deflected Jonathan Parker’s bid from the high slot to give the Amerks the early 1-0 lead. In an effort to use the screened Taylor to his advantage, Parker fired a quick shot through a maze of bodies toward the goal-mouth, allowing Roy to tip it inside the near post for his fourth of the season. With the secondary assist, Nick Crawford has recorded a point in each of his last three games and has collected six points (1+5) over his last eight outings.
Abbotsford would answer just 2:46 later, though, as Tyler Ruegsegger won a face-off back to the right point, where defenseman Carson stepped up and put a well-placed shot in the upper right corner to knot the game at one apiece. The goal would be the first of three straight unanswered tallies for the Heat.
The Heat took their first lead of the day late in the first period with a power-play marker from leading point-getter Ben Street. After back-to-back penalties to Mark Pysyk and Mark Mancari put the Amerks two men down, the Heat capitalized on the opportunity as Max Reinhart set up Street with a one-timer from the right circle for his 11th goal of the season. Carson picked up his second point of the day, helping the Heat take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Abbotsford went up by a pair at the 16:00 mark of the middle frame after a defensive zone turnover led to Piskula’s second goal of the season, which proved to be the game-winner. A loose puck battle along the left-wing boards would go in favor of the Amerks, but an errant pass caused it to bounce freely to Piskula, who snapped a quick shot through the legs of an unsuspecting Knapp to give the Heat a 3-1 cushion.
The Amerks came within a goal with under a minute to play in regulation as Tarnasky buried a back-hander off a net-front scramble to make it 3-2, but the rally would fall short as time would expire.
The Amerks look to avoid the two-game sweep as the same teams meet again in the back-end of the two-game set on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Game time is slated for 10:00 p.m. EST and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.