(Syracuse, NY) … After dropping Friday’s contest in the first game of the weekend home-and-home series with the Syracuse Crunch (45-21-4-3), the Rochester Americans (44-22-4-2) returned the favor Saturday night at War Memorial Arena as they left with a 5-2 victory.
On the heels of their 23rd road victory of the season, which is tied for most in the AHL, the Amerks have earned a point in eight of 11 meetings with Syracuse so far this season, and following tonight’s win, remain three points behind the Crunch for the AHL’s North Division lead with four games left in the regular season.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Rochester has also collected 48 out of a possible 70 points in its last 35 games, which includes an 8-2-0-0 record over its last 10 matchups away from The Blue Cross Arena.
Forwards Wayne Simpson (2+0) and Rasmus Asplund (0+2) each turned in a pair of points for the Amerks, who show a 4-0-1-0 record this season in Syracuse. Andrew MacWilliam, C.J. Smith and Yannick Veilleux rounded out the scoring while netminder Adam Wilcox (13-8-4) stopped 15 of 17 shots he faced to improve to 5-0-1 against his former club on the campaign. In his last four outings, Wilcox shows a 3-0-1 record.
Alex Barre-Boulet tallied his team-best 33rd goal of the slate while Dennis Yan tallied his 11th for the Crunch. Rookie goaltender Atte Tolvanen (3-2-0) made his fifth straight start but was dealt with the loss despite making 30 saves.
On the first shift of the game, the Amerk controlled the puck and dumped it in-behind Tolvanen’s net. The first-year goaltender made a hard pass around the boards to Boris Katchouk, who immediately turned it over onto the stick of an attacking Kevin Porter. Rochester’s team captain scooped it up to the left of the cage, and as his momentum moved him to the right of the crease, he slid a pass to Simpson, who tapped into the net for his first of two on the night.
With the goal coming just 33 seconds into the rematch, the Amerks became first team in the league with six different 20-goal scorers. It’s also the first time since the 1996-97 campaign Rochester had six players score 20 or more goals in the same season.
The Amerks continued to control the pace of play in the opening frame, and despite not capitalizing on the power-play in the final five minutes of the period, they doubled their lead with 2:48 remaining.
Moments after the unsuccessful man-advantage, Veilleux won a puck battle just inside the Rochester blueline and pushed the puck to Tyler Randell in the neutral zone. Randell left the puck for MacWilliam in transition and he exchanged a give-and-go with Dalton Smith to enter the Crunch side of the ice. Smith dished a pass in-between the dots towards MacWilliam and the blueliner steered the puck into the net for his third goal of the slate to give Rochester a 2-0 lead going into the intermission.
Rochester continued the quick-scoring approach in the second period as they tallied a pair of goals just 2:02 apart to jump out to a comfortable 4-0 cushion just four minutes into the frame.
While on the power-play, Veilleux found a loose puck in-front of the Crunch netminder and blasted a shot from just outside the goal mouth for his fifth of the season at the 2:05 mark. Moments later, C.J. Smith fired home his team-leading 28th goal with a shot from the right point to make it a 4-0 score with the lone assist going to Zach Redmond.
With the helper, Redmond reached the 50-point mark for the first time in his pro career.
Not done yet, and with the shots 22-7 in favor of Rochester, Simpson tacked on his second of the night to make it a five-goal Amerks lead at the 11:22 mark of the middle frame.
The Crunch narrowed the gap as they tallied a goal in the final minute of the second and again early in the third, but Wilcox prevented Syracuse from getting any closer as he closed out the 5-2 victory.
While the Amerks finished with a 35-17 shot-advantage, they held Syracuse to only 11 shots through the first 40 minutes while limiting the Crunch to fewer than eight shots in each period.
Following tonight’s matchup, the Amerks close out their season series with the Cleveland Monsters on Monday, Apr. 8 at 7:00 p.m. as the two North Division rivals square off from Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. All of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Simpson (20, 21), MacWilliam (3), Veilleux (5 – GWG), C.J. Smith (28)
SYR: Barre-Boulet (33), Yan (11)
ROC: Wilcox – 15/17 (W)
SYR: Tolvanen – 30/35 (L)
ROC: PP (1/5) | PK (3/3)
SYR: PP (0/3) | PK (4/5)
1. Wayne Simpson (ROC)
2. Yannick Veilleux (ROC)
3. Alex Barre-Boulet (SYR)