(Rochester, NY) … Entering Wednesday’s contest at The Blue Cross Arena as winners of its last three games, the first-place Rochester Americans’ (16-7-2-0) bid to extend its winning streak to four straight was halted in a 5-1 loss against the intrastate rival Binghamton Devils (11-14-3-0).
Despite their first Wednesday night loss of the 2018-19 campaign, the Amerks have won five of their last seven games while also earning 34 of a possible 46 points in the last 23 contests. Rochester also remains atop the AHL’s North Division standings heading into this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Cleveland Monsters, who are five points back of the Amerks.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Second-year winger Sean Malone scored his second goal of the season in the defeat while Matt Hunwick, who was assigned to the Amerks by the Buffalo Sabres this morning, made his season debut in a conditioning stint. Tonight’s game marked his first professional game since Apr. 1, 2018 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL) and first AHL contest since Mar. 26, 2014 while with the Lake Erie (Cleveland) Monsters. Making his third appearance in the last four contests, goaltender Jonas Johansson made six saves in the first 22 minutes before being replace by Adam Wilcox. Johansson was dealt his first loss of the season while Wilcox stopped 20 of 21 shots he faced in relief.
Binghamton, which entered the matchup winless in its last four games and boasting a 2-7-1-0 record in its last 10, was led by defenseman John Ramage’s season-high three points (1+2). John Quenneville (1+1) and Marian Studenic (0+2) each added two points to snap the Devils’ season-long four-game winless streak. Blake Pietila, Egor Sharangovich and Kurtis Gabriel finished off the scoring while netminder Mackenzie Blackwood evened his record to 6-6-1 on the campaign as he made 36 saves.
WATCH: SEAN MALONE POST-GAME
The Devils opened the game with a pair of markers in each of the first two periods to seize a 4-0 lead at the 1:53 mark of the middle frame.
Binghamton’s first tally of the night came off the stick of Quenneville, who redirected a Ramage point-shot just 4:51 into the contest for his ninth of the season and eighth in his last 11 games.
The Amerks had an opportunity to even the game nine minutes later as they drew a hooking infraction, however, an ill-advised turnover in-front of Johansson was quickly shot into the net by Sharangovich less than a minute into the penalty.
While the Amerks carried a 16-8 shot advantage into the intermission, the Devils held a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard after 20 minutes of play.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
“We had a lot of good shots in the first period, but not a lot of good second chances nor traffic in front of the net,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “On Binghamton’s first goal, they capitalized on their chance and their second goal while we were on the power-play. It really hurt and we could not recover.”
Binghamton emerged from the dressing room and tallied a pair of goals just 37 seconds apart, thus ending Johansson’s night just 1:53 into the middle frame.
The Amerks, though, facing a steep four-goal deficit, spoiled Blackwood’s shutout as Malone got a stick on an Alexander Nylander shot-pass from the top of the right face-off dot at the 8:22 mark of the stanza.
In addition to Nylander earning an assist on the goal, Hunwick was awarded the secondary helper, his first of the season. The assist was his first AHL point since Mar. 23 as a member of the Monsters.
WATCH: MATT HUNWICK POST-GAME
“Overall, I felt pretty good,” said Hunwick, who made his organizational debut after missing the first three months of the season due to an injury. “The first period to period and a half, I felt slow trying to get up to speed, but as the game went on I felt better and better. By the end of the game, I thought my skating was where I had hoped it would be.”
Prior to the end of the second period, Gabriel reclaimed Binghamton’s four-goal cushion, his second of the slate, to finish off the scoring on the night.
Rochester tested Blackwood eight times during the final 20 minutes of regulation, but it was too little too late as the Amerks saw their three-game win streak snapped.
“The start we had tonight was unacceptable,” said Malone. “With Wednesday games and games at home we have to have better starts. Binghamton is a good team, who plays us hard every game, so we have to know that going into the game.”
The Amerks host the Cleveland Monsters in the front-end of a home-and-home series on Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. The action shifts to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Saturday, Dec. 15 for a rematch with the Monsters. Both games will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/ 95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Malone (2)
BNG: Quenneville (9), Sharangovich (5 – GWG), Ramage (3), Pietila (9), Gabriel (2)
ROC: Johansson – 6/10 (L) | Wilcox – 20/21
BNG: Blackwood – 36/37 (W)
ROC: PP (0/4) | PK (1/1)
BNG: PP (0/1)| PK (4/4)
1. John Ramage (BNG)
2. Mackenzie Blackwood (BNG)
3. John Quenneville (BNG)