Alex Hutchings scored the eventual game-winning goal with five minutes remaining in the second period as the Rochester Americans defeated the Chicago Wolves 4-1 Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. With the victory, the Amerks jump to 20-15-3-3 and extended their season-long winning streak to five games.
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Kevin Porter, Brayden McNabb and Colton Gillies added goals for the Amerks, while goaltender Nathan Lieuwen made 18 saves in net for his third straight win and ninth of the season. Johan Larsson added two assists, and Jamie Tardif and Nick Crawford also finished with points. With their assists, Larsson and Tardif both extended personal scoring streaks to five games.
Adam Cracknell scored the lone goal for Chicago and Jake Allen stopped 18 shots in the losing effort.
The Wolves took a 1-0 lead just 15 seconds after the opening face-off when Ty Rattie broke into the Rochester zone two-on-one with Cracknell. Rattie delivered a crisp pass to Cracknell, who fired one past Lieuwen.
It didn’t take long for the Amerks to respond. Just under five minutes later, Porter picked up a loose puck and skated in alone on Allen and buried his ninth goal of the season high into the net.
Neither team gained many scoring chances for most of the second period until Hutchings took advantage of a Chicago miscue. With five minutes remaining in the middle frame, Rochester native David Shields controlled the puck at his own blueline, but his mishandle allowed an on-coming Hutchings to grab the puck and skate in all alone. With a nifty fore-hand to back-hand deke, Hutchings slid the puck between Allen’s legs for a 2-1 Amerks lead. The point marked Hutchings’ 100th of his professional career.
Rochester nearly tallied its third goal just minutes later when Luke Adam flew into the Chicago zone, cut to the middle of the ice and tried to maneuver the puck around Allen. The Chicago netminder stuck out his pad for the save, and Adam’s rebound attempt slid through the crease with nobody home to finish the play.
Just 50 seconds into the third period, the Amerks continued their hot streak on the power-play. Crawford fired a shot from the point that missed the net, but Tardif gathered the puck in the corner and delivered a back-hand pass right to McNabb in the slot. McNabb made no mistake, sniping a shot off the post and in for a 3-1 Rochester lead.
The Wolves pulled Allen with 1:40 left to try and make things interesting, but Hutchings fed Gillies, who filled the empty net to seal the win for the Amerks.
The Amerks remain at home on Friday, Jan. 31 as they host the Rockford IceHogs on Men’s Health Night at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the first of two meetings this season and just the fifth all-time between the two teams and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.