ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Americans (36-27-6-3) fell behind 2-1 before tying the game to force overtime and then winning the 3-2 contest in a four-round shootout against the Springfield Thunderbirds (39-23-6-3) Tuesday at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the victory, Rochester has six wins in its last last 10 games and has earned points in 13 of the last 17 games overall while sitting in fifth place in the North Division four games left in the regular season. The Amerks, who split the season series with the Thunderbirds with one win apiece, improved to 3-0-0-0 in their last three meetings against the Thunderbirds in the Flower City over the last five seasons.
Forward Michael Mersch scored his team-leading 26th goal of the season from Mark Jankowski and Ethan Prow (0+2), who finished with a multi-point effort, in the first period. Sean Malone forced the game to go beyond the regulation as he added his 18th of the season – and 100th point as an Amerk – from Prow and Jack Quinn midway through the third stanza.
Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (14-13-5) made his fourth straight start and 32nd appearance of the season for Rochester. The Finnish netminder made 23 saves and then two more in the shootout to earn his second consecutive win and 14th overall.
Nathan Todd and Matthew Peca both scored for Springfield, who was denied its 40th win of the season. Goaltender Joel Hofer (16-14-5) made his 37th appearance of the slate, and despite stopping 33 saves, including one in the shootout, he suffered the loss.
Trailing 2-1 entering the final frame, Rochester drew its third penalty of the night as a Springfield skater was whistled for a tripping infraction 5:44 into the period.
The Amerks were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage, however, the club gathered momentum from the power-play.
Midway through the stanza and the puck in the offensive zone, Quinn pushed the puck back to the left point for Prow. The veteran defenseman took a few strides to the center of the blueline before firing a shot towards the Hofer. Prior to the puck reaching the cage, Malone steered it into the top corner to even the score at 2-2.
The teams traded chances for the final 9:07 of regulation, but overtime was required to determine the outcome.
In the extra period, Rochester, which was outshoot 4-2, was called for a slash with 2:38 on the clock.
Springfield had a few chances on the power-play, but Luukkonen and the Amerks defenders successfully killed off the penalty, resulting in the shootout.
Rochester elected to shoot first in the skills competition and Quinn and JJ Peterka both lit the lamp as did the Thunderbird’s Sam Anas and James Neal to force a fourth round.
Arttu Ruotsalainen, who entered the contest with 48 points (18+30) in his last 46 games, beat Hofer as he tucked a backhanded shot under the crossbar before Luukkonen turned aside Todd to preserve the 3-2 come-from-behind shootout victory.
The win was Amerks first at home on a Tuesday since Oct. 23, 2012, against the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Rochester opened the scoring 9:53 into the contest as Mersch swept in a loose rebound past the left leg of Hofer from Jankowski and Prow but Springfield responded in the middle frame as Todd and Peca both scored four minutes apart.
Malone forced the game to go beyond regulation before three different Amerks scored and Luukkonen stopped two Springfield skaters.
The Amerks begin their final three-in-three of the 2021-22 regulation season starting with their final visit to the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday, April 22 for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop versus the first-place Utica Comets. All the action from the contest will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.