Veteran forward Jamie Tardif scored the eventual game-winner on the power-play 7:08 into the third period as the Rochester Americans closed out their West Division road swing with a 3-2 victory over the San Antonio Rampage Saturday at the AT&T Center. With the win, Rochester has won three of its last four, including back-to-back wins outside the North Division, and improves the Amerks to 3-1-0-0 over their current six-game road trip.
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Johan Larsson led the way offensively with a goal and an assist, while Kevin Sundher also found the back of the net and Nathan Lieuwen stopped 26 of 28 shots to pick up his seventh win of the season.
Former Amerk Doug Janik and Quinton Howden provided the scoring for the Rampage behind a 34-save effort from goaltender Rob Madore.
Rochester opened the scoring just 2:18 into the contest as Larsson delivered early to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead. After denying Brayden Irwin from the right half-wall, and following that up with a point-blank stop on Colton Gillies, Madore could not corral the second rebound as Larsson jammed it home from the top of the crease.
San Antonio evened the score on the power-play with Janik’s first of the season at 6:16 of the second period. The play started when Ryan Martindale, playing in his first game with the Rampage since being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, attempted to set up Matt Gilroy for a one-timer in the high slot. Gilroy, however, feeling pressure from an attacking Phil Varone, opted to send a pass across the blueline to Janik, who released a quick shot through traffic and past a screened Lieuwen to make it a 1-1 game.
Sundher put the Amerks back on top at 14:58 when he converted a centering feed from Frederick Roy for his fourth of the season. An aggressive fore-check from Roy created a turnover just inside the San Antonio blueline at the same time Sundher was entering the Rampage zone. Roy, having bumped his defender off the puck, gained possession, and in one swift motion, spun off the boards and lobbed a turnaround pass towards the low slot, where Sundher picked it up and slipped a shot through Madore’s legs for a 2-1 Rochester advantage. Jonathan Parker also earned an assist on the play for his first AHL point of the season.
Larsson nearly extended Rochester’s lead in the early stages of the final frame with a pair of chances on the same shift. First, Larsson appeared to have Madore beat from the left circle, but the Rampage netminder was able to lift his glove at the last second to knock it down. Then, just seconds later, Larsson drove through the high slot only to have the crossbar deny him his second of the night.
Luck continued to be an ally for San Antonio, as just minutes later, Howden scored his sixth of the year with help from Logan Shaw and a fortunate bounce to knot the contest at two apiece. Howden received a long stretch pass from Shaw deep in the Rampage zone and raced up the ice along the right wing boards. After gaining the Rochester zone, Howden fired a shot on net that rang off the right post and caromed off the back of Lieuwen before trickling over the goal-line. The play would go to video review, where it was soon determined by referee Mark Lemelin that the puck did fully cross the line.
Rochester broke the 2-2 deadlock with a power-play goal from Tardif at 7:08, when Larsson’s attempted centering pass ricocheted off Luke Adam and found Tardif camped out in front of the goal-mouth for what proved to be the game-winner.
The Amerks went into shutdown mode for the remainder of the period, most notably in the final two minutes of regulation as Rochester’s assertive fore-check prevented Madore from leaving his crease in favor of an extra attacker. San Antonio was able to eventually summon its netminder with 30 seconds to go, but the Amerks maintained their lockdown style of defense and held on for the 3-2 win.
The Amerks continue their season-long six-game road swing when they travel to Cleveland on Thursday, Jan. 23rd to take on the Lake Erie Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the seventh of 10 meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.