Amerks rally to beat Utica in shootout

Rochester Amerks

A power-play goal with 5:55 left in regulation by captain Steven Fogarty sent the Rochester Americans (3-1-0-0) into overtime before Jean-Sebastien Dea sealed the 4-3 come-from-behind victory in the third round of the shootout Thursday night against the Utica Comets (3-1-0-1) at The Blue Cross Arena.

With the win, Rochester’s third consecutive after dropping the season opener to the Comets, the club has collected at least one point in 20 of the last 28 games against Utica dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, going 15-8-2-3 over that span.

Dea (1+1), who opened the scoring for Rochester in the final minute of the second period, turned in his third straight multi-point effort to begin the campaign for the first time in his professional career. Forward Remi Elie also notched his third marker of the season to round out the scoring. Forwards C.J. Smith and rookie Jack Quinn, who made his professional debut tonight, both scored during the skills competition before Dea finished off the victory.

Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen managed the pipes for the third consecutive game for Rochester and pushed his winning streak to three as he made 35 saves, plus one additional one in the shootout.

Utica was paced by forwards Lukas Jasek (1+1) and Carson Focht (0+2) as each turned in a two-point night in the shootout loss. Nathan Walker and Jonah Gadjovich both found the back of the net while on the man-advantage. Netminder Jon Gillies (2-0-1) made his second consecutive start in as many nights, stopping 23 of the 26 shots he faced in the loss.

After the Comets opened the scoring midway through the second period while on the power-play, Rochester countered with its own during the final minute of the stanza to knot the game at one going into the final 20 minutes of regulation.

The Amerks rode the wave of the momentum on the goal from Dea, and Elie gave the home team its first lead of the night just 16 seconds into the third period.

After the Amerks won the opening face-off, Jacob Bryson sent the puck through the middle of the ice and into the Comets zone. Racing to eliminate a potential icing violation, Elie beat the defenseman and snapped a shot over the blocker of Gillies for his third goal in as many games.

Rochester would see its 2-1 lead transition into a one-goal deficit after Gadjovich and Walker tacked on a pair of power-play goals just 2:08 apart.

On Gadjovich’s tally, he pounced on a loose puck and slipped it past the right leg of Luukkonen before Walker steered in a pass from reigning AHL MVP Sam Anas while parked atop the goal-mouth at the 6:40 mark.

Less than five minutes later, Rochester drew its final power-play of the contest. After receiving a drop pass inside the blueline, rookie defenseman Oskari Laaksonen stepped into a shot from the right point. Prior to the puck reaching the Comets net, Fogarty tipped it into the cage for his second of the season to send the game into the extra session.

The primary helper from Laaksonen was his fifth of campaign, which tops all AHL defensemen and all first-year players. Quinn’s assist marked his first pro point.

In overtime, both Luukkonen and Gillies made time timely saves to send the game into the shootout.

Rochester elected to shoot first and Smith and Quinn both scored before Dea sealed the 4-3 win. Luukkonen stopped one of the two Utica shooters.

The Comets opened the scoring midway through the second period following a scoreless opening frame, but the Amerks tied the game before grabbing a 2-1 advantage early in the final frame.

The Amerks set out on a three-game road swing while also seeking their fourth straight win on Saturday, Feb. 20 when they visit the Syracuse Crunch for a North Division showdown at Upstate Medical University Arena. Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m.

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