(Rochester, NY) … After building a 4-1 lead 1:24 into the second period of Wednesday’s contest at The Blue Cross Arena, the Rochester Americans (18-8-2-0) saw their three-goal lead slip away as the Belleville Senators (13-15-2-0) erased the deficit with four straight unanswered goals, including two in the closing minutes, to come away with a 5-4 win.
Despite the loss, the Amerks have won seven of their last 10 games overall while also earning 38 out of a possible 52 points in the last 26 contests. Rochester also maintains a five-point lead atop the AHL’s North Division standings heading into final two games before the Christmas break.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Matt Tennyson, who was reassigned by the Buffalo Sabres earlier this week, tied a career-best as the defenseman collected three assists, all of which came in the first period, while Victor Olofsson (2+0) and Sean Malone (0+2) each posted their own multi-point nights. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood appeared in his 13th game in the last 20 for the Amerks but was dealt with the loss. The netminder shows a record of 9-5-1 this season with Rochester.
Former Amerk Stuart Percy, Max McCormick and Paul Carey all posted a goal and an assist while Stefan Elliott (0+2) also turned in a multi-point performance to lead Belleville, which snapped a season-long four-game skid. Rudolfs Balcers and Aaron Luchuk rounded the scoring. Marcus Hogberg began the game in the blue paint for the B-Sens but was replaced by Filip Gustavsson after allowing three goals in 11 minutes of work. Gustavsson earned the win as he stopped 18 shots in 49 minutes of relief action.
WATCH: NATHAN PAETSCH POST-GAME
With a 3-1 lead after the opening 20 minutes of play, Olofsson scored his second of the contest and 10th overall of the season just 84 seconds into the stanza from Rasmus Asplund and Zach Redmond. Belleville, however, made it a one-goal game going into the final period as they tallied a pair of markers during the stanza.
Four minutes after Olofsson’s goal and while on the man-advantage, Balcers received a one-time feed in the high slot and banged it past Wedgewood at the 5:17 mark.
The goal was his team-leading 11th of the season and the Senators’ second power-play tally of the game.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
Midway through second frame, Luchuk tracked down a loose puck in the neutral zone and raced all alone towards the Amerks goaltender. The rookie, appearing in just his fourth AHL contest, slipped the puck between the pads of Wedgewood to make it a 4-3 score with 6:08 remaining in the middle frame.
As the teams entered the intermission break, Rochester held a one-goal lead despite being outshot 26-13.
The game opened up during the final 20 minutes of regulation as the North Division opponents traded prime scoring chances. With Rochester seemingly closing in on its 15th victory of the season when leading after two periods, Belleville struck twice in a span of 58 seconds to stun the Amerks and claim a 5-4 victory. Percy netted the equalizer off an Andrew Sturtz rebound before setting up Carey less than a minute later for the game-winner.
WATCH: VICTOR OLOFSSON POST-GAME
“We have to be mentally stronger in situations when we have the lead,” said Amerks assistant captain Nathan Paetsch. “You could kind of see the game slipping away from us as we weren’t playing well and they just kept coming and coming. We need to be better moving forward.”
Rochester jumped out to a three-goal lead 11:45 into the contest as Olofsson, Cornel and Smith all lit the lamp to chase Hogberg from the net as he stopped two of the five shots he faced. Olofsson reached the 10-goal mark while Smith found the back of the net for the third straight game.
“We should have felt lucky that we were up 3-0 as pucks were going in for us but it was not a good start,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “It was not a good start, it wasn’t a good middle and it wasn’t a good finish.”
“I think that we were outworked tonight and that is the disappointing part,” added Taylor. “There is no reason that we should have lost tonight. We seem to struggle against the Binghamton’s, Belleville’s and Utica’s. When we don’t play the way we should, we end up getting these types of results.”
The B-Sens got on the board with 5:38 left in the opening frame before outscoring the Amerks 4-1 in the final 40 minutes.
“I don’t think we played the way that we are capable of,” said Olofsson after his fifth multi-point outing of the season. “When we did have the lead, it didn’t feel comfortable as we let up way too many scoring chances and eventually it came back to bite us.”
The Amerks close out their schedule before the Christmas Break as they host the Hartford Wolf Pack on back-to-back nights at The Blue Cross Arena. Following Friday’s 7:05 p.m. tilt, the two teams meet again on Saturday at 5:05 p.m. Both games will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/ 95.7 FM ESPN Rochester and AHLTV.
ROC: Olofsson (9, 10), Cornel (3), C.J. Smith (10)
BEL: McCormick (1), Balcers (11), Luchuk (1), Percy (2), Carey (5 – GWG)
ROC: Wedgewood – 33/38 (L)
BEL: Hogberg – 2/5 (ND) | Gustavsson – 18/19 (W)
ROC: PP (1/2) | PK (3/5)
BEL: PP (2/5)| PK (1/2)
1. Paul Carey (BEL)
2. Stuart Percy (BEL)
3. Matt Tennyson (ROC)