The Rochester Americans picked up three of a possible four points this weekend, closing out a home stretch before they head out on a four-game road trip for the next almost two weeks.
The weekend began as the Amerks hosted the San Antonio Rampage on Friday night. Rochester was coming off a 3-2 win over the Iowa Wild on Wednesday and looked to build off that with another victory.
Unfortunately, they came up just short, falling 3-2 to San Antonio in a shootout.
The Amerks opened the scoring as Phil Varone notched his 12th goal of the season to give Rochester a 1-0 lead just 3:38 into the game. Varone now has a career-high 12 goals on the season and is tied with Luke Adam for the Amerks’ point lead with 40.
That lead would last over a period, but the Rampage would rally back with a shorthanded goal by Quinton Howden to tie things up in the second period. Near the end of the middle frame – with just 18 seconds remaining – Brayden McNabb would score his seventh goal of the season to regain the Amerks lead.
Joey Crabb later tied things up for the Rampage, and once again, things were at a stalemate. The tie appeared to break when Rasmus Ristolainen scored with just under two minutes remaining in regulation — but the goal was waived off due to Ristolainen making (incidental) contact with the San Antonio goaltender.
After a fruitless overtime, the Amerks were unable to put it away in the shootout and walked away with a point in the Friday night matchup. Nathan Lieuwen made 25 saves in the loss.
The Amerks came right back to things the following night, hosting the Hamilton Bulldogs in their final of four consecutive home games.
Several players were out on Saturday for the Amerks, including goaltender Matt Hackett, forward Colton Gillies and defenseman Drew Bagnall, all out with the flu. Hackett’s absence meant Nathan Lieuwen played in his THIRD? consecutive game for the Amerks, with Rochester native Billy Sauer brought in as his backup for the night.
Frederick Roy opened the scoring for the Amerks in the first period, with Luke Adam notching his 22nd goal of the season later in the middle frame.
Hamilton’s Gabriel Dumont was able to close the gap to just one goal later in the second after hitting the post and getting the puck back shortly after.
Mike Zigomanis scored his first goal since December 18 – he was out with a head injury for quite a while – to up the lead to 3-1. Once again, Gabriel Dumont scored for Hamilton to close the gap.
The Amerks were able to hold on for the win, marking Nathan Lieuwen’s eight win in his last 10 starts. It was also Lieuwen’s fourth consecutive start.
One issue the Amerks faced during Saturday’s game was taking far too many penalties, particularly late in the second period. Both of the Hamilton goals were scored on the power play, and penalty-killing could have easily meant the difference between a win and a loss for Rochester. This time, thankfully, they pulled out the win, but next time, they may not be so lucky.
Next up for the Amerks is a four-game road trip, kicking off on February 27 with a visit to the Iowa Wild.