Belleville, Ontario (WROC) — After seven straight first round exits, the Amerks are moving on in the playoffs after defeating Belleville 4-3 in overtime. The win is the Amerks’ first playoff series victory since 2005.
Brett Murray’s overtime winner sets up a second-round meeting with the Utica Comets after completing a first-round sweep over the Senators.
After giving up the first three goals in Wednesday’s win, the Amerks flipped the script by starting out hot on road ice. Arttu Ruotsalainen, Game 1’s OT hero, scored less than seven minutes into the first period.
Ruotsalainen had an assist on Rochester’s second goal, a Mark Jankowski wrist shot from the slot early in the second period. After a Belleville goal, Ruotsalainen tallied another goal, slicing through the Belleville defense to put the Amerks up 3-1 heading into the third period.
But just like Wednesday, the home team had an answer.
Facing a 3-1 deficit to start the final 20 minutes of regulation, the Senators came out and outshot the Amerks 8-0 in the first half of the period.
In addition to holding Rochester without a shot, Belleville evened the score at 3-3 as they tallied a pair of markers 5:19 apart from Agozzino and Jarventie, the second of which came on the strength of a 5-on-3 two-man advantage.
Following Jarventie’s power-play goal, the two clubs limited each other’s chances and overtime was required for the second straight contest.
With less than three minutes remaining in the first overtime, Ruotsalainen went to work. As Ruotsalainen darted his way through the Belleville defense, he attempted to pull the puck through his legs in an effort to evade the poke check of a Senators defenseman. The puck made its way to Murray, who was attacking on the right side, and he snapped a shot inside the right post past an unsuspecting Gustavsson to seal the 4-3 win and send the Amerks to the second round for the first time in 17 years.
Aaron Dell stopped 34 shots to earn the win for Rochester.
The second round series will mark the first-ever meeting in the postseason between the intrastate rivals, who previously met on 12 occasions during the 2021-22 regular season.
The best-of-five series is set to get underway in Utica on Tuesday, May 10 with Game 1 at Adirondack Bank Center. Rochester will host Game 3 on Sunday, May 15, and if necessary, Game 4 on Tuesday, May 17 at The Blue Cross Arena.
Below is the full second-round schedule for the best-of-five North Division Semifinals between the fifth-place Amerks and first-place Comets.
Game 1 | Tuesday, May 10 – Rochester at Utica | 7:00 p.m. at Adirondack Bank Center
Game 2 | Saturday, May 14 – Rochester at Utica | 7:00 p.m. at Adirondack Bank Center
Game 3 | Sunday, May 15 – Utica at Rochester | 5:05 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena
*Game 4 | Tuesday, May 17 – Utica at Rochester | 7:05 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena
*Game 5 | Thursday, May 19 – Rochester at Utica | 7:00 p.m. at Adirondack Bank Center
Tickets for Game 3 are scheduled to go on sale Monday, May 9 at 10 a.m.