On the strength of multi-point efforts from Oskari Laaksonen (0+3), Remi Elie (2+0) and Jean-Sebastien Dea (0+2), the Rochester Americans (1-1-0-0) survived a late push from the Syracuse Crunch (1-0-1-0) and earned a 4-3 overtime victory over their North Division rivals Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
It was the first Amerks win for new head coach Seth Appert.
While Rochester was led offensively by Laaksonen, Elie and Dea, team captain Steven Fogarty capped off the win with his first goal as an Amerk 1:39 into the extra session as second-year winger Brett Murray chipped in his first marker of the campaign. Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 20 saves to record his first win in his season debut with the club.
Syracuse’s Boris Katchouk (1+1) and Alexsi Heponiemi (0+2) each turned in a two-point performance as Taylor Raddysh and Ross Colton rounded out the scoring. Netminder Samuel Montembeault (1-0-1) stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced but suffered the loss in his second straight appearance for the Crunch.
Trailing by a pair of goals to start the third period, the Crunch scored to pull within one just 26 seconds into the frame as Colton buried a back-door feed past a diving Luukkonen. The forward stopped the puck with his skate after getting a pass from Riley Stillman and Ben Thomas to trim the lead to 3-2.
Midway through final frame, Syracuse evened the score at 3-3 when Raddysh snuck behind the Amerks defense and beat Luukkonen on a breakaway opportunity at the 11:50 mark.
The two teams traded chances for the remaining nine minutes of regulation prior to overtime, but Rochester drew its fourth power-play of the night with 17 seconds left in third period.
With the extra skater to begin the overtime period, the Amerks thought they had won the game only to have Fogarty stone-walled by Montembault in the first minute. However, as fortune would have it, Laaksonen handed Dea the puck outside the offensive blueline. Once inside the Crunch zone, Dea stepped into a shot from the left face-off dot and it caromed off the stick of Fogarty to send Rochester to its first win of the season.
Rochester took control of the contest early with Elie scoring off a redirection just 1:48 after the opening face-off before Murray finally converted on his third opportunity amid a goal-mouth scramble on the power-play to give the Amerks a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.
In the opening two minutes of play, the experienced line trio of Elie, C.J. Smith and Dea teamed up to pressure the Crunch inside their own zone before Laaksonen fired a shot from the right point. As the puck made its way towards Montembault, Elie steered it behind the netminder just 1:48 into to break the scoreless game.
Later in the opening frame while on their second power-play of the night, the Amerks kept the Crunch inside their zone for much of the infraction before Murray doubled Rochester’s lead. Andrew Oglevie and Arttu Ruotsalainen, who was appearing in his 250th professional game, each earned an assist on the marker that gave the Amerks the two-goal advantage.
Much like the first goal to open the scoring, Rochester added a marker early in the second to take a 3-0 lead just 1:57 into the period. After collecting a pass from Dea inside the right point, Laaksonen fired a shot that found the stick of Elie, who was providing a screen in front of Montembault for his second tally of the night.
Facing a three-goal deficit, Syracuse scored three straight goals over the final 36 minutes of play to force overtime before Fogarty ended the night 99 seconds into the extra period.
The Amerks look to make it two straight on Friday, Feb. 12 when they travel to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to take on the Cleveland Monsters for the first of six meetings this season between the two teams. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start.