(Rochester, NY) … Led by a pair of goals and an assist from Scott Wilson, the Rochester Americans (25-13-2-4) doubled-upped the Syracuse Crunch (20-20-3-3) by a 4-2 score for their fourth consecutive victory Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
The contest was the second of a home-and-home series between the two clubs and sixth overall in the head-to-head series this season. In the last 18 games dating back to last season, Rochester shows an 11-5-1-1 record, which includes a 5-1-0-0 mark in 2019-20.
Along with Wilson’s three-point outing, rookies Jacob Bryson and Brett Murray each added a pair of assists to keep the Amerks within four points of the first-place Belleville Senators. The multi-point game by Bryson was the first of his career. Forwards Casey Mittelstadt and C.J. Smith rounded out the scoring as they recorded their seventh and ninth goals of the campaign, respectively. First-year goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen evened his season record to 1-1-1 while he made 31 saves.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Daniel Walcott scored both Syracuse goals and former Amerk netminder Scott Wedgewood (8-5-1) stopped 23 of the 27 shots he faced but suffered the loss.
Nearly three minutes after the Crunch tied the contest at 1-1, Mittelstadt raced down an outlet pass from Wilson as he skated inside the Syracuse blueline. As the second-year forward gathered the puck, he stepped into the center of the zone before backhanding a shot under the crossbar to give Rochester a one-goal lead at the 8:46 mark.
Syracuse had a chance to tie the game yet again with under four minutes left in the first period as Cory Conacher was awarded a penalty shot but Luukkonen denied the former Amerk and the home club took the lead in to the intermission.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
“I thought he was really solid tonight,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor when asked about Luukkonen’s performance. “He came up big on the penalty shot and was big for us tonight. Our penalty killing was really good but your number one penalty killer has to be your goaltender and he was one of them.”
Along with Rochester beginning the second stanza with a one-goal advantage, they also had 59 seconds of a leftover interference penalty.
The Amerks kept the puck in the Syracuse zone for much of the shortened power-play, and after poking the puck to the point to Bryson, Wilson finished off a shot-pass from the rookie blueliner to give Rochester a 3-1 lead just 48 seconds into the frame.
Wilson’s marker from Bryson and Murray gives the Amerks 14 power-play goals in their last 28 games against the Crunch while going 19-for-116 (16.4%) during that span.
WATCH: ANDREW MACWILLIAM POST-GAME
Syracuse chipped into Rochester’s 3-1 lead as Walcott tipped a point shot at the 15:20 mark of the second period, but the Amerks countered right back 34 seconds later as Smith finished off a rebound for his ninth of the campaign.
Andrew Oglevie had the lone assist on the play to push his point streak to three games.
The Amerks carried the two-goal advantage into the final period of regulation as the two clubs combined for 30 penalty minutes after 40 minutes of play.
“That’s Syracuse and Rochester,” described assistant captain and veteran defenseman Andrew MacWilliam. “It’s no secret they don’t like us and we don’t like them. It’s always fun and great to be a part of these games. It’s also that way against the other North Division teams. It’s a really competitive division and it’s a fun battle.”
WATCH: JACOB BRYSON POST-GAME
Neither team was able to generate any scoring chances in the third period despite combining for 18 shots, allowing Rochester to pick up its second straight win over the Crunch and fourth overall.
“It’s nice to get back on the winning train,” explained Bryson. “It was a tough stretch there for us but we are sticking together well. We are playing well and hopefully we continue to play the way we have as of late because obviously it feels great to win.”
The game started as each of the two teams scored before the 6:00 mark, but then Mittelstadt gave the Amerks the lead for good as he tucked in his sixth goal of the season with 11:14 to go in the opening frame.
“Playing simple much like the team has done lately,” said Wilson on his personal success tonight. “When I first came here (from Buffalo), I tried to do too much and I learned that is going to back fire on you. So now I am trusting the guys around me and it has helped me lately.”
WATCH: SCOTT WILSON POST-GAME
The Amerks make their way to the southern tier on Saturday, Feb. 1 for a North Division showdown against the Binghamton Devils at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena at 7:00 p.m. The matchup will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: S. Wilson (8, 9), C. Mittelstadt (6), C. Smith (9)
SYR: D. Walcott (5, 6)
ROC: U. Luukkonen – 31/33 (W)
SYR: S. Wedgewood – 23/27 (L)
ROC: PP (1/5) | PK (4/5)
SYR: PP (1/5) | PK (4/5)
1. S. Wilson (ROC)
2. J. Bryson (ROC)
3. B. Murray (ROC)