Rookie forwards Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka both dazzled in their first shootout of the season to lead the Rochester Americans (8-5-0-0) to a 5-4 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3-8-3-1) Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the win, the Amerks have won eight of their last 12 games, which includes four on home ice. Rochester boasts a 3-0-1-0 record against Lehigh Valley over the last five years inside the Flower City while also earning at least one point in six of the last eight games against the Phantoms dating back to Dec. 30, 2016, going 4-2-1-1 over that span. In each of the eight contests over that stretch, the winning team has scored at least three goals.
Forward Brett Murray scored his fourth and fifth goals in the last five games while Peterka and Linus Weissbach both netted their four overall on the campaign. Oskari Laaksonen, Ethan Prow, Sean Malone, Mattias Samelsson, Josh Teves and Quinn all recorded one assist.
Goaltender Michael Houser made his first start in the AHL this season and seventh since the end of the 2016-17. He finished the night with 28 saves in addition to the two he faced in the shootout to earn the victory.
Phantoms leading point-getter Morgan Frost produced a season-high three points (1+2) while Garrett Wilson, Connor Bunnaman and Gerry Mayhew all scored in the shootout defeat. Tonight’s loss beyond regulation was Lehigh Valley’s fourth this season but first in the skills competition.
Netminder Felix Sandstrom (3-5-3) appeared in his league-leading 12th appearance of the slate, and despite making 20 saves, which included one in the shootout, he suffered the loss.
Rochester, which scored a pair of goals in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit, saw the Phantoms tie the game at 4-4 with 1:27 left in regulation to force overtime. On the Lehigh Valley game-tying marker, they had Sandstrom pulled while the teams had four skaters aside.
During the extra frame, the Amerks had the puck for most of the opening three minutes before being whistled for a boarding infraction with 2:05 to play.
On the ensuing power-play, the Phantoms kept the puck inside the offensive zone for nearly all of the penalty. Defensemen Casey Fitzgerald, Samuelsson, Teves and Prow along with forwards Michael Mersch and Mark Jankowski did not allow a shot to push the game to the shootout.
Quinn opened the skills competition as he gave Rochester an early 1-0 lead on a dazzling move before Houser denied Mayhew and Frost. In the third round, Peterka sealed the shootout victory as he beat Sandstrom on the blocker side.
Rochester began the first period with a two-goal lead as Murray and Weissbach scored 5:17 apart to give the home team a 2-0 lead at the 7:34 mark. Lehigh Valley, however, countered back with three straight tallies to take a 3-2 lead into the final 20 minutes of regulation, including a pair of goals 12 seconds apart.
During the third period, however, the Amerks, who flipped the script from the second period as they were outshot, 19-4, limited the Phantoms to just three shots before Murray and Peterka reclaimed Rochester’s 4-3 lead.
Late in the third, Mayhew forced the overtime stanza before Quinn and Peterka sealed the win during the shootout.
The Amerks begin a two-game set against the undefeated Utica Comets on Saturday, Nov. 20 at the Adirondack Bank Center. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.