In three straight games, the Amerks outshot the Marlies.
In three straight games, the Amerks came up short.
A season that saw so much progress came to a frustrating end with 3-1 loss in game 3 of Rochester’s first round playoff series that knocked the Amerks out after a 3-game sweep.
“You can always look back at the what if’s,” Kevin Porter said. “If a couple of our posts (hit) or good chances in the first game woulda gone it, would it have been a better series? Probably. But, it wasn’t and thats how it went.”
“Can’t lose two games at home,” Zach Redmond said. “We’re behind. Pressure’s on us. I think that was probably the difference.”
Second-year forward Adam Brooks notched his first-career professional hat trick to lead the Marlies, who boast an 18-5 postseason record dating back to the start of last year’s playoffs. Netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo drew the nod for Toronto and stopped 28 of 29 shots. The goaltender finished the three-game sweep allowing four goals to go with a 1.32 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage.
Forward Tage Thompson scored his second goal of the postseason in the second period from C.J. Smith and Kevin Porter while netminder Scott Wedgewood made 17 saves but suffered the loss in the Amerks crease, his third of the playoffs.
“We played really well so that makes it even worse. It stings really bad,” Thompson said. “I feel bad for everyone in that room, too because I know how bad everyone wanted it. It’s tough to end a season like that.”
Though the Amerks won five of their six regular season games against the Marlies, they now know just how hard it is to win in the postseason.
The last time the Amerks won a playoff series was in 2005. Their leading scorer that year is now their head coach, Chris Taylor.
“You can tell how tough it is in the playoffs. It’s a different game,” Taylor said. “They figured that out and they found out really hard. Our culture is changing, but we still as an organization, gotta get better. Gotta get better. Keep teaching these guys, keep developing these guys to be a better organization.”
Toronto used the home crowd to its advantage as they opened the scoring just 1:26 into the contest thanks to Brooks’ second tally of the postseason and first tally of night. Collecting the puck to the right of Wedgewood, Carcone circled the net before attempting a centering pass to Mason Marchment. Carcone’s pass hopped over the stick of Marchment and was chipped into the net by Brooks, who snuck in the back-door.
After Thompson evened the score at 1-1 midway through the second period while on the power-play, Rochester’s first tally of the series with the man-advantage, Brooks redirected his second goal of the night to regain Toronto’s one-goal advantage at the 11:37 mark.
The Marlies took the one-goal lead into the third period and the score remained the same until the final 36 seconds of regulation when Brooks sealed the win as he capped off the three-goal night while Wedgewood was pulled for the extra attacker.
“We had a great regular-season, but it’s tough when you lose the first two games of a five-game series,” said Porter. “We have a hell of a group in that locker room. The playoffs are a different style of game and I hope the younger guys can learn from this experience.”
Rochester lost in a first round sweep for the second year in a row. It’s the third straight time Toronto has swept the Amerks out of the playoffs. The Marlies are 9-0 all time in the postseason against Rochester.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Redmond said. “The last two seasons, I thought we had a really strong group who could have made a deep run, but that’s the playoffs. Getting swept is about as bad as it could possibly get.”
“I thought in the first two periods we were a little tight,” Amerks head coach Chris Taylorsaid. “I felt we kind of sat back at times and were nervous to make a mistake. In the third period we had some opportunities but just could not get one by their goaltender.”
“We had the intensity and the desperation but just could not find a way to win,” Thompson said. “It was a do-or-die situation for us, obviously, but a disappointing ending. The guys had such a great regular-season and it stings really bad.”