Despite jumping out to a two-goal advantage late in the second period, the Rochester Americans fell to the Oklahoma City Barons 5-4 in overtime Sunday evening at The Blue Cross Arena. Brandon Davidson was the difference maker for the Barons, scoring the winner with 2:03 left in the extra session as the Amerks closed out their three-game weekend with five out of a possible six points to remain within four points of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
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Phil Varone capped a productive weekend, finishing with his second straight three-point (1+2) effort and seven points in his past three games. Luke Adam scored his team-leading 26th goal of the season and for the second time in as many games, while Colton Gillies and Kevin Porter also scored goals and Rasmus Ristolainen added two helpers. Goaltender Matt Hackett got the starting nod in net and made 27 saves for the Amerks.
Roman Horak led the visiting Barons with a goal and three assists, and Richard Bachman turned aside 13 of 17 Rochester shots in net. Will Acton, Brad Hunt, and former RIT Tiger Steve Pinizzotto rounded out the scoring for Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City received a fortuitous bounce on the game’s first goal 7:32 in when Taylor Fedun’s slap-shot deflected off an attempted block from Frederick Roy right to Pinizzotto, who was standing back-door, and the Barons forward tapped the puck into the empty side.
The Barons struck with their second goal of the game while shorthanded with 7:03 left in the opening period, as Acton picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, crossed the Amerk blueline and fired a shot under Hackett’s glove and into the net. Rochester quickly responded, however, when Joel Armia floated behind Oklahoma City’s net and dumped the puck in front for Gillies, who banged it home bringing the score to 2-1.
Just under four minutes into the second period, the Amerks took advantage of an Oklahoma City turnover deep in the Rochester zone when Nick Crawford fed Varone with a breakaway pass down the left wing, and Varone’s nifty backhand move on Bachman knotted the score, 2-2.
The game took an interesting turn midway through the second period, when Pinizzotto was ejected from the game after attempting to drop the gloves with Nick Tuzzolino. The Amerks were awarded a rare seven-minute power-play, and Davidson’s minor moments later opened the door for a five-on-three Amerks advantage.
Rochester wasted no time grabbing the lead with 7:07 remaining in the middle frame, when Ristolainen and Porter played catch along the blueline before Porter unleashed a one-timer that darted into the top corner. Moments later, Adam completed a tic-tac-toe passing play top shelf on a cross-crease pass from Mike Zigomanis to put the Amerks ahead 4-2.
Oklahoma City struck with two goals in less than a minute during the third period off the sticks of Horak and Hunt to even the score at four apiece. Neither team could find the net as regulation winded down, and the game headed to overtime.
The Amerks couldn’t reproduce the overtime magic seen over this past month, as a quick passing play from Horak to Davidson fooled the Rochester defense, sealing the 5-4 win for Oklahoma City.
The Amerks remain home on Wednesday, March 12 for their second of three consecutive home games as the Binghamton Senators make their third of four visits to Rochester on the season. Wednesday’s game, which marks the first of two between the Amerks and B-Sens this week (the clubs will also face-off in Binghamton on Saturday, March 15), can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.