The Rochester Americans defeated the Utica Comets by a score of 4-2 on Friday night at Utica Memorial Auditorium as Luke Adam scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season for Rochester. The win was the second straight for the Amerks and improved their record to 7-3-2-2 on the season, keeping them alone in first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division.
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By recording his second consecutive two-goal game, Adam took over the AHL lead in goals with 13 in just 14 games. Rookie Joel Armia, playing in just his second game with the Amerks, collected two assists for the first points of his North American professional career. Kevin Sundher also registered two assists while veterans Matt Ellis and Mike Zigomanis each scored a goal to round out the scoring for Rochester. Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen stopped 33 of 35 shots to earn the win in net.
Utica forward Benn Ferriero scored both Comets goals on the night while netminders Joacim Eriksson and Joe Cannata combined to stop 26 of 30 Rochester shots on goal.
The Amerks used another quick start to score the game’s first goal with Ellis finishing off a nifty set-up by Patrick Kaleta just 4:15 into the contest. Kaleta gained the Utica zone after receiving a long stretch pass and left it at the blueline for Ellis, who skated into the right circle and picked the upper left corner to give Rochester the 1-0 lead.
Utica nearly tied the game midway through the first period as Ferriero’s shot from the high slot almost found the top right corner, but Lieuwen flashed his glove at the last second to snare it out of the air.
Rochester doubled its lead later in the frame, scoring just eight seconds into its first power-play opportunity. Nick Crawford’s shot from the top of the point pinballed through traffic in front of Eriksson and a crowd of Comets defensemen. Adam, stationed at the top of the crease, suddenly became the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce and slammed the rebound home for his team-leading 12th of the season. Brayden McNabb also earned an assist on the goal and now paces all blueliners with eight power-play helpers this season.
Ferriero brought Utica within a goal at 16:16 of the period when he slipped by the Rochester defense and snapped one by Lieuwen. Former Amerk Colin Stuart caused a turnover deep in the Amerks zone and Patrick Mullen emerged with the puck off the right wing boards. Mullen then made a quick pass to Ferriero, who managed to escape coverage before tucking a shot inside the left post to make it a 2-1 game.
Adam added his second of the night midway through the second period to put the Amerks back up by a pair. Sundher’s initial bid from the right face-off circle was turned aside by Eriksson, but the rebound would again find the stick of Adam. The Rochester forward swiped at the bouncing puck twice before making good on his third attempt, soon prompting a Utica goalie change by Comets head coach Travis Green. The goal also gives Adam two in back-to-back games and puts the former AHL Rookie of the Year atop the AHL in that category, including a league-best seven power-play tallies. Armia notched his first professional point on the goal with his first of two assists on the night.
Rochester took its largest lead of the night when Zigomanis converted a centering feed from Armia to put the Amerks up 4-1. Armia, playing in just his second professional game after making his debut in Hamilton on Wednesday, found Zigomanis streaking in from the high slot and the 13-year pro beat Cannata to the short-side for his fifth of the season at 16:28.
Ferriero added his second of the night by converting on a rebound at 18:51 of the third period to make it a 4-2 game, but that’s as close as Utica would get as the Amerks emerged with their third victory of the season over the Comets.
The Amerks wrap-up their busy stretch of seven games in 11 days on Saturday, Nov. 16 when they travel to the southern tier for the second time in as many weeks to take on the intrastate rival Binghamton Senators at Veterans Memorial Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.