|DAN LAMBERT POST-GAME|
|NICK BAPTISTE POST-GAME|
|TAYLOR FEDUN POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) – The Rochester Americans (13-18-0-1) wrapped up their season-long homestand the same way it started, winning in an overtime. Taylor Fedun sent the crowd home happy as he delivered the game-winning tally 1:39 into the extra session to seal the 4-3 win over the AHL’s second-best team in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (21-8-2-0) Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
Nick Baptiste collected a career-high three assists on the night to lead the Amerks to the victory while Cole Schneider (1+1) scored his 12th goal of the season to go along with an assist for his team-leading 11th multi-point effort. Cal O’Reilly extended his point-streak to four games (2+3) as he opened the scoring on the night with his seventh goal of the season and second in the last two nights. Newcomer Tim Kennedy found the back of the net for the first time as an Amerk while Linus Ullmark, who played every minute of Rochester’s five-game homestand, made 15 saves to improve his record to 12-12-1. The netminder is tied fourth among AHL goalies with 12 victories for Rochester.
Former Amerk T.J. Brennan and Will O’Neill each recorded a pair of assists on the night for the Phantoms. Greg Carey tallied his team-leading 16th goal of the season while Danick Martel and Chris Conner each lit the lamp in the defeat. Rookie netminder Alex Lyon made a season-high 36 saves in the net.
Despite outshooting the Phantoms after 60 minutes of play 37-18, the Amerks needed extra time to pick up the win, but only needed 99 seconds of bonus time to finish the homestand with a 3-2-0-0 record.
After the Phantoms drew their sixth penalty of the night just six seconds into overtime, Fedun and the Amerks would capitalize. Fedun’s initial attempt was denied by the crossbar, but he would make good on his second opportunity just seconds later, firing a shot from in-between the face-off circles that sailed past a screened Lyon and inside the right post.
“I believe we had some pretty good movement of the puck on the power-play in the overtime period,” Fedun said of his game-winner that earned the Amerks a two-game split with the Phantoms. “After I hit the post, it is funny how the softer shot went into the net, but it was a fun game to be a part of against one of the premier teams in the league.”
“I really liked our start,” said Amerks head coach Dan Lambert. “We had four lines going and our defensive units did an exceptional job of moving pucks through the middle of the ice. Our puck retrievals were better and it was an all-around good night.”
The Amerks began the contest with a bang as O’Reilly tallied his second goal in as many games less than six minutes into the tilt. With the puck near the side boards, Baptiste sent a center pass onto the waiting twig of O’Reilly to the left of Lyon to give the Amerks the lead.
Later in the period, Kennedy extended the lead as he redirected the puck just inside the glove side and post of Lyon at the 11:47 mark. Schneider and Evan Rodrigues helped setup the tally.
“I think that is one of the most complete games we have played all season,” Fedun said. “We got off to a great start as we scored a couple goals and we were winning the puck battles.”
After being outshot in the first period 15-5, Lehigh Valley cut into the Amerks lead 1:29 into the frame then tied the contest at two before the period was six and half minutes old. However, the Amerks countered back to regain the lead.
With the power-play unit on the ice after a slashing infraction, Schneider banged in a rebound attempt from Baptiste and Jean Dupuy with 10:03 left in middle stanza. The assist from Dupuy was his first point of the campaign after missing the first 30 games.
The Amerks continued to carry the play over the second period, outshooting the Phantoms 31-9 and holding a 3-2 advantage after 40 minutes of play.
Lehigh Valley fired nine shots on the cage during the final frame, but were able to tie the game at three to force the overtime session before Fedun ended the contest with the game-winning tally.
The Amerks finished the game with a season-high 40 shots on net while limiting the Phantoms to a season-low 18. The 18 shots were also the fewest allowed in a game this season for Rochester. Fedun and Baptiste each fired a game-high seven shots on net, the most in a game this season since Justin Bailey recorded seven on two separate occasions this year.
“I think we set the bar for our hockey team with the 40 shots tonight,” said Lambert. “Now it is only a matter of getting it out of guys on a daily basis. If we can play like we did tonight, we can also be a tough team to play against and I think tonight’s effort is a credit to our leadership in the room.
Rochester brings 2016 to a close on Saturday, Dec. 31 as the Amerks travel east to ring in the New Year against the North Division rival Comets at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Game time is slated for a 5:05 p.m. start and all of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: O’Reilly (7), Kennedy (1), Schneider (12), Fedun (4, OT)
LV: Carey (16), Martel (8), Conner (8)
RCH: Ullmark – 15/18 (W)
LV: Lyon – 36/40 (OTL)
RCH: PP (2/6) / PK (2/4)
LV: PP (2/4) / PK (4/6)