The good thing about the game on Wednesday night is that Amerks finally scored a goal after a drought of seven periods and over 147 minutes of play. Luke Adam was in the penalty box for goaltender interference and Evan Rankin scored shorthanded for his 12th goal of the season. One other good thing is that they played a lot better on Wednesday night than on Tuesday.
As of writing this Rochester is only seven points out of fourth place in the Western Conference right now. The team in fourth place? Abbotsford Heat. Following the game on Wednesday the Amerks have played in a league leading 23 games beyond regulation time. They have four overtime wins. Nine overtime losses. Six shootout wins and four shootout losses. Turn half of those losses into wins and the Amerks are ahead of the Heat in the standings.
Tossing another ugly stat out in the air is that on Wednesday night it was the sixth time in a row that the Amerks have had a one goal lead going into the third period and ended up losing (not six consecutive games, just six games where they’ve had a lead into the 3rd). The team has lost eight out of their past 10 games, three of those in overtime and one in a shootout. Sure, they’ve acquired points in six out of their last nine games but the loser point in overtime or a shootout isn’t good enough.
The offense has been streaky and the defense continues to get beat. This isn’t the Buffalo Sabres who got a burst of energy from Marcus Foligno, Ryan Miller playing at the top of his game and other NHL caliber players finally playing the way they should. This is a mediocre AHL team with ECHL caliber players playing against better teams.
It’s going to take a miracle to make the playoffs.
Remember what was talked about last July about the need for more scoring and veterans and more experienced players for depth? It never happened and it’s showing now in April. An American Hockey League team can be built to develop prospects to fuel the NHL team and be competitive at the AHL level. Hopefully Darcy Regier gets the memo that this is possible and takes more action this coming off season.
As for the game, here is the Amerks press release:
Evan Rankin (1+1) and Phil Varone (0+2) each contributed a pair of points for the Amerks, while Derek Whitmore and Colin Stuart also found the back of net. David Leggio turned away 31 of 35 shots faced in his 18th consecutive start between the pipes for Rochester, who saw its winless streak reach five games.
Krys Kolanos scored a goal and added two assists to lead the way offensively for Abbotsford, who also received goals from Dustin Sylvester, Roman Horak and Ben Walter. Netminder Danny Taylor finished with 29 saves in the winning effort, earning his 19th win of the campaign.
After a scoreless opening period, the Heat got on the board 4:13 into the middle frame for a 1-0 lead. Kolanos got behind the Rochester defense and accepted a stretch pass from Brian Connelly that sent him in alone to beat Leggio with a high wrister to the glove side.
A shorthanded goal from Rankin less than four minutes later evened the score at one apiece for Rochester. Off the rush, Varone feathered the puck toward Rankin, who was driving the net and deflected the pass over the glove of Taylor.
The Amerks took their first lead of the night at the 11:30 mark of the second, as Whitmore buried his team-leading 27th goal of the season. Rankin found Whitmore in the low slot with a pass out of the right corner, and the fourth-year pro wasted no time in depositing it into the open side. The tally matches Whitmore’s career-high total of 27, which he set last season with the Portland Pirates, while Rankin picked up his 100th professional assist on the play.
The Heat knotted things up 2-2 just 34 seconds into the third period, as Sylvester potted the rebound of a Connelly point shot at the top of the crease.
Abbotsford capitalized on an odd-man rush to regain the lead by a score of 3-2 at 9:46 of the third. Bancks drove wide into the offensive zone before sending a cross-crease pass to Horak for an easy tap-in goal.
Rochester battled back to tie the game once again with 5:39 remaining in regulation when Stuart found a loose puck in the slot after a broken play and sent a wrist shot through Taylor.
Walter scored the game-winning goal at 2:19 of overtime, finishing off a slick rush and feed from Kolanos to give Abbotsford the win.
Rochester continues its four-game road swing on Saturday, April 7 as the Amerks make their way to Copps Coliseum in southern Ontario for their final confrontation with the Hamilton Bulldogs. The 7:35 p.m. North Division contest will be the 10th and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be carried live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.
If there’s any chance of making the playoffs the Amerks need to win at least four of their last five. Anything less than that and it’ll take the help of other teams losing as well. The team is boarding an early morning flight out of British Columbia and plays Hamilton on Saturday and Adirondack on Sunday.