(Rochester, NY) … Five different Rochester Americans (20-10-2-0) scored Friday night, including four in the second period, to help the Amerks close out the home portion of the 2018 calendar year with a decisive 5-1 victory over the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies (14-13-3-2) in front of a season-high crowd of 8,061 at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the victory, Rochester has won nine of its last 14 games overall to remain in first place in the North Division standings with a two-point lead over the Syracuse Crunch entering the final weekend of December. The Amerks also became just the third AHL team this season to reach the 20-win mark and first from the North Division.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Danny O’Regan and Wayne Simpson each recorded a goal and an assist while Victor Olofsson notched a pair of assists for the second straight game to give the Amerks four straight wins over the Marlies dating back to the 2017-18 campaign. Justin Bailey, Brendan Guhle and Zach Redmond, who tied a career-best with his 15th goal of the season, also found the back of net. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood made 35 saves to earn his 11th win of the campaign. The netminder is tied for fifth in the AHL as he boasts a 11-6-1 record.
Toronto got on the scoresheet thanks to Chris Mueller’s 14th goal of slate while he also recorded a career-high 11 shots on goal. Eamon McAdam stopped 22 of 27 shots he faced but was handed the loss.
WATCH: SCOTT WEDGEWOOD POST-GAME
Following a scoreless opening frame, the Amerks scored three unanswered goals in the second stanza and took a 4-1 lead going into final period of regulation.
The Amerks were whistled for a slashing penalty and seemed to give the Marlies momentum. However, Rochester gained the energy as Eric Cornel forced a turnover deep inside the Toronto zone. Cornel corralled the loose puck to the right of McAdam before centering a pass to Simpson, who was wide-open in front of the cage.
WATCH: WAYNE SIMPSON POST-GAME
“Cornel did a good job of pressuring down the ice,” said Simpson, who scored his third goal in the last four outings. “Once he got the puck, he hit me right on the tape and I just tried to beat the goalie short-side.”
The shorthanded goal gave the Amerks a 1-0 lead 3:21 into the period. Coming into tonight, 11 of the previous 14 meetings between the two clubs dating back to the 2016-17 season was won by the team that scored the first goal.
Carrying a one-goal cushion, Rochester tallied a pair of goals just 2:13 apart to seize control of the game and storm out to a 3-0 lead at the 10:31 mark.
WATCH: DANNY O'REGAN POST-GAME
As the Amerks were on the man-advantage with 11:43 left in the second period, Redmond picked the upper corner with his team-leading 15th goal of the season from Kyle Criscuolo and Olofsson. The tally proved to be the game-winner, Redmond’s seventh this season and most in the AHL.
Shortly after the Amerks’ fourth power-play goal in the last two games, Guhle rocketed a one-time feed in-between the face-off dots to break open the game.
WATCH: ZACH REDMOND POST-GAME
“It was an all-around good effort,” said Redmond, who also tied a career-best with his seventh game-winning goal through just his 32nd game of the season. “It was a big night for our special teams that we desperately needed.”
While Toronto made it a two-goal game late in the period, Bailey regained Rochester’s three-goal cushion with 62 seconds left in the stanza as he spun and fired in his eighth tally of the campaign before the intermission.
Rochester, which went into the final frame with a 4-1 lead, closed out the scoring as O’Regan fired his 11th goal of the season at the 14:07 mark. O’Regan’s power-play goal was assisted by C.J. Smith and Simpson.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
“It was definitely a team effort tonight,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “From our penalty-kill to our power-play to our goaltender, I thought we played really well. We had a little bit of a slow start, but I liked how we stuck with it and took the chances when we got them.”
The Amerks wrap up the 2018 calendar year on Saturday, Dec. 29 when they face the Utica Comets for a North Division matchup at Adirondack Bank Center. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Simpson (11), Redmond (15 – GWG), Guhle (4), Bailey (8), O’Regan (11)
TOR: Mueller (14)
ROC: Wedgewood – 35/36 (W)
TOR: McAdam – 22/27 (L)
ROC: PP (2/5) | PK (7/8)
TOR: PP (1/8)| PK (3/5)
1. Scott Wedgewood (ROC)
2. Wayne Simpson (ROC)
3. Danny O’Regan (ROC)