Luukkonen blanks Monsters for first AHL shutout

Rochester Amerks

(Photo courtesy Rochester Americans)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped all 32 shots he facedfor his fist American Hockey League shutout to backstop the Rochester Americans (7-4-0-0) to a 4-0 win over the Cleveland Monsters (5-2-1-3) Saturday at The Blue Cross Arena.

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Amerks forwards JJ Peterka (1+1) and Jack Quinn (1+1) both had multi-point nights with a goal and an assist each, while rookie forward Brandon Biro (0+2) posted his second multi-effort of the year with two assists. Veteran forward Michael Mersch (1+0) added a tally on the night, while defenseman Casey Fitzgerald (1+0) rounded out the scoring for the Amerks. Defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (0+1) and forwards Peyton Krebs (0+1) and Linus Weissbach (0+1) all added helpers.

Luukkonen (4-4-0-1) made his fourth-straight start in the crease and his third in just four days.

For the second straight night, it was the Amerks getting on the board first to open the scoring thanks to Peterka’s third goal of the season 6:34 into the contest. As the Monsters were attempting to breakout of the defensive zone, Quinn caused a turnover just outside the blueline when he picked the pocket of former Amerk Justin Danforth. Krebs quickly gathered the loose puck and caught Peterka streaking up the middle of the ice. The rookie forward caught the pass in stride before snapping a shot through the legs of Berube to put Rochester ahead 1-0.

Rochester doubled its lead in the final minute of the opening period, capitalizing on a defensive zone breakdown by the Monsters. A face-off in the Cleveland zone was won by the Monsters, but Mersch managed to elude his defender from the left-wing boards, and while warding off another, zipped shot inside the near post from a near-impossible angle to give the Amerks a 2-0 advantage with 35 seconds remaining in the frame.

Cleveland nearly cut the deficit in half midway through the second period, but a highlight reel save by Luukkonen preserved the Amerks’ two-goal lead. After stopping a long-range shot from just inside the blueline, Carson Meyer, the game-winning goal-scorer from last night, seemingly had a wide-open net to convert the rebound. Luukkonen, however, made it across his crease in time to deny the second-chance opportunity with his outstretched leg to preserve his shutout.

Just minutes after the timely save from their goaltender, the Amerks upped their lead to 3-0 following yet another defensive zone turnover by the Monsters. As Berube attempted to leave the puck for his defenseman, Peterka intercepted the exchange and quickly spun a centering pass to Quinn in the high slot. Quinn, who just last night became the first AHL rookie to reach eight goals through his first 10 games of the season, threw a shot on goal that pinballed its way through traffic and in for his team-leading ninth goal this year.

Fitzgerald gave Rochester its largest lead of the night midway through the third period with his third of the season to seal the 4-0 victory.

Rochester continues its four-game homestand on Wednesday, Nov. 17 when they host the first-place Utica Comets in a North Division showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time between the intrastate rivals is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.

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