ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A five-goal third period and a hat trick by captain Michael Mersch powered the Rochester Americans to a convincing 8-5 victory over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 3 of the North Division Semifinals Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.

With the win, Rochester, staved off elimination to force another must-win Game 4 on Sunday, April 30. The Amerks currently trail the best-of-five series 2-1.

With the score tied at 4-4 with under six minutes to play in regulation, Rochester drew simultaneous tripping and slashing penalties in the same sequence to gain a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.

On the ensuing two-man advantage, Rochester patiently passed the puck around the Syracuse zone before Rousek centered a pass atop the point for Kulich. The rookie forward gathered Rousek’s feed and rifled in a shot to give the Amerks a 5-4 lead.

Less than 45 seconds later while still on the power play, Mersch doubled Rochester’s cushion after being set up by Murray and Pilut.

The Crunch cut into the deficit as Ryfors finished off his hat trick with 2:33 left in regulation, but Murray and Mersch sealed the 8-5 win while Lagace was pulled for an extra attacker.

With his first three-goal outing since May 23, 2015, Mersch became the first Amerk to post a hat trick in the playoffs on home ice since Jason Pominville did so on May 8, 2004, versus Hamilton. Brett Murray, Lukas Rousek, Linus Weissbach, Lawrence Pilut, Isak Rosen, and Mason Jobst all recorded a multi-point game. Sean Malone and Jiri Kulich, who made his AHL postseason debut, both scored while Jeremy Davies rounded out the scoring with an assist.

Goaltender Malcolm Subban made 25 saves to earn his first playoff win in the AHL since April 26, 2015.

Alex Barre-Boulet, who paced the Crunch offense during the regular season with 60 assists and 84 points, set a new franchise record for the most points in a playoff game (5). Simon Ryfors posted a hat trick while Gage Goncalves also notched a multi-point game.

Netminder Max Lagace stopped 19 of the 25 shots he faced but suffered his first loss of the series.

During the Amerks’ first shorthanded situation of the first, they drew a hooking infraction, resulting in four-on-four for 12 seconds.

After Rochester gained its skater back, Weissbach sped through the neutral zone and across the opposite blueline carrying the puck. He then slid a pass to his right for Rosen, who took a stride towards the puck before wiring a shot over Lagace’s glove hand for his first of the postseason.

Despite Syracuse answering 58 seconds after Rosen’s tally, Rochester reclaimed the lead before the end of the period.

Late in the opening frame, Murray chipped the puck behind a Crunch defenseman for Jobst to track down in the right corner of the net. Just before reaching the net, Jobst centered it in-front of the crease. Murray tipped the pass before Mersch scored overtop a diving Lagace.

Following the intermission break, Syracuse evened the score 7:29 into the period as Barre-Boulet gathered Trevor Carrick’s pass below the goal line. As the Quebec native controlled the pass, he spun to avoid a hit and found Goncalves at the near circle for his third goal of the series.

As the end of the second approached, tempers began to flare, resulting in 28 penalty minutes.

While the coincidental infractions were being served, the Amerks had several grade-A chances but after a minute of offensive time, Malone gave Rochester a 3-2 lead with 1:05 to play in the middle stanza.

Davies retrieved a loose puck below the goal line and eventually made his way towards the top of the left point. The defenseman hit Weissbach with a pass in the near dot before the Swedish forward pushed it to Malone as he snuck through the low slot. Malone, who drew a penalty as he made his way towards Lagace, held off the Crunch skater and converted a backhanded shot over the glove of the netminder.

In the final 20 minutes of regulation, Rochester outscored Syracuse 5-3 to record the 8-5 victory.

The Amerks again look to stave off elimination in the best-of-five series with Game 4 on Sunday, April 30 at The Blue Cross Arena. Puck drop is slated for a 3:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.