On the strength of a pair of goals from forward Tage Thompson, including the game-winner with 43 seconds left in overtime, the Rochester Americans (1-0-0-0) opened their 64th season in the American Hockey League with a 3-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch (0-0-1-0) Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
Along with Thompson, who has 11 points (8+3) in his last nine AHL games dating back to last season, Rasmus Asplund and Zach Redmond each added two assists. Second-year forward Andrew Oglevie completed the scoring for Rochester while goaltender Andrew Hammond earned the victory as he made 27 saves in his Amerks debut. Jarrett Burton, Curtis Lazar, Jean-Sebastien Dea all wore the Rochester jersey for the first game while Jacob Bryson dressed in his first professional contest.
Former Amerk Cory Conacher and Danick Martel both scored for Syracuse, which entered the matchup with three straight wins in the Flower City. Along with an assist, netminder Louis Domingue stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced but was dealt with the overtime loss.
As overtime was dwindling down, Asplund picked up a loose puck inside the Crunch zone and quickly raced in on an odd-man rush towards the Syracuse goaltender. Asplund slid a cross-crease pass under the Crunch defenseman and Thompson swatted it into the net for his second of the night to give Rochester the 3-2 win.
“It was a great play by ‘Reds’ along the boards,” described Thompson. “Aspie’ made an unreal pass that I almost missed, but I was able to get the shot off. At first I didn’t think it went in, but it was a great finish for the night after a sloppier start than we had liked.”
After a scoreless first period where the two North Division foes combined for 21 shots and eight penalty minutes, Thompson opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the middle stanza. The third-year pro circled through the high slot and outwaited the Syracuse defense before zipping a well-placed shot to the upper corner, handcuffing Domingue in the process.
“That was a big goal for us,” said Gord Dineen, who earned his first win as Rochester’s interim head coach. “It got us going and it was a heck of a shot. Their goaltender did not have much of a chance on the shot.”
“Hammond was our best player tonight, especially early in the game,” continued Dineen. “He made some big saves tonight to keep us in it. One of the best things I like about him is his compete level. He competes for every puck and that makes it easy on the defensemen. His play with puck was impressive.”
While the Crunch evened the score at the 8:30 mark of the second period, the Amerks once again took the lead early in the final period as Oglevie deposited his first of the season 1:04 into the third.
Redmond was credited with the secondary helper as he fired the initial shot from the right point before Scott Wilson redirected it off the pad of Domingue.
Syracuse, much like in the second period, took advantage of an Amerks penalty and knotted the score again with 8:36 left in regulation before Thompson delivered the overtime-winner late in the contest.
“We are an excited group,” said Amerks team captain Kevin Porter after the victory. “We had one game this weekend and we wanted to get the two points. We didn’t want to go into overtime, but we are still happy with the win.”
The Amerks embark on a three-game trek through New England beginning on Friday, Oct. 11 against the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. After the 7:05 p.m. tilt with the Thunderbirds, the Amerks will then face the Providence Bruins on Saturday night at 7:05 before concluding the weekend with a 3:00 p.m. matinee versus the Harford Wolf Pack.