ROCHESTER,NY – The Rochester Americans stormed out to a three-goal lead in the first period and hung on to defeat the visiting Syracuse Crunch 4-1 Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The win is the first in five tries for the Amerks against their intrastate rivals from Syracuse, bringing their season record to 29-20-4-4 heading into Saturday’s rematch at the War Memorial at Oncenter.
Rookie forward Joel Armia led the charge for the Amerks with a goal and an assist, defenseman Chad Ruhwedel added two assists, and Johan Larsson, Jamie Tardif and Tim Schaller all finished with goals to round out the scoring for Rochester, which now has points in seven of its last nine games . Nathan Lieuwen was sharp in net once again, stopping 28 shots for his 16th win of the season and 10th in his past 14 starts.
Mike Angelidis scored the lone goal for the visiting Crunch halfway through the third period, and Kristers Gudlevskis, fresh off his Olympic debut with Team Latvia in Sochi, made 21 saves between the pipes.
Rochester opened the scoring 11:29 into the game when Dan Catenacci set up with the puck in the corner of the Syracuse zone and fed Larsson stationed at the high circle. With a Syracuse defender applying pressure, Larsson collected the puck and whipped it on net all in one motion, putting the Amerks up 1-0. The goal continues a productive stretch for Larsson, who now has 25 points in 22 games since his Jan. 11 reassignment from the Buffalo Sabres.
On the power-play just 3:12 later, Phil Varone circled around the top of the zone and threw a shot on net with Tardif parked in front. Tardif managed to get a stick on the shot and tip it in for the forward’s 18th goal of the year, and continuing the Amerks strong run with the man-advantage.
Schaller’s goal with 2:19 left in the opening period put the Amerks up by three scores, as the rookie drove to the net at full speed and floated a backhand shot on net that trickled past Gudlevskis. Lieuwen, who played the puck up to Ruhwedel to start the play, picked up the first assist of his AHL career on the goal.
Rochester scored its fourth goal on a hard-working play from Colton Gillies with 4:55 remaining in the second period. Gillies sped into the offensive zone and out-muscled Syracuse defenseman Dan Milan for a loose puck before swinging a no-look backhand pass in front of the net to Armia. With Gudlevskis looking the other way, Armia finished into the empty side of the net as Rochester went up 4-0.
Syracuse ruined Lieuwen’s shutout bid with 11 minutes remaining in regulation, as Angelidis tapped home a pass from Vladislav Namestnikov for the Crunch’s lone goal.
With Rochester press release