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Amerks comeback falls short in Utica

A late-game rally by the Rochester Americans (8-6-0-0) came up short as the Amerks fell behind early to the first-place Utica Comets (13-0-0-0) and were never able to recover, ultimately dropping a 5-3 decision to the AHL’s only undefeated team Saturday at the Adirondack Bank Center.

The game was the first of back-to-back meetings between the two teams with another go-around slated for Wednesday, Nov. 24.

Rochester came into the matchup winners of eight of the previous 12 games, and dating back to the start of the 2016-17 campaign, the Amerks have collected at least one point in 30 of their last 47 contests against Utica.

Forward Brendan Warren notched his second of the season to begin the scoring for the Amerks while former Comet Josh Teves added his second late in the middle frame. Peyton Krebs scored his first goal as an Amerk during the final period of regulation from Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (4-6-0) stopped 15 of the 19 shots he faced before being replaced by Michael Houser (0-1-0) 5:42 into the second period. Houser finished the night making nine saves in relief.

Comets leading point-getter Chase De Leo returned to the lineup after missing the last five games and tallied a pair of points (1+1) while Ryan Schmelzer also produced a multi-point game with two assists. Graeme Clarke and former Amerk Brian Flynn capped off the scoring for Utica.

Goaltender Akira Schmid (6-0-0) pushed his win streak to six games to start the season as he made 34 saves in the contest.

Utica needed only 25 seconds after the opening face-off to get on the board as Foote snapped a shot from atop the circle following an icing violation. Foote gathered the puck following a face-off win by Schmelzer and snapped home his third of the season.

The home team increased its lead to 3-0 on the strength of a pair of power-play goals before, the first of which came at the end of the first period and then again to start the second, respectively.

The Comets added one more goal as the clubs were skating four skaters a side. Rochester carried the puck into the offensive zone, however, Utica’s A.J. Greer caused a turnover before Frederik Gauthier banked a pass off the boards to spring Clarke for his fourth of the season to make it a 4-0 contest.

Following the marker 5:42 into the middle period, Houser replaced Luukkonen.

Houser’s night did not start easy as he was immediately tested with a 2-on-1 odd-man rush, resulting in FLynn converting on the backhand for his third goal of the season with 5:50 left in the period.

Rochester did not go away quietly, however, as Warren and Teves scored within 3:11 of each other in the final minutes of the second period to cut Rochester’s deficit to 5-2 going into the final period of play.

The Amerks continued to press as they were granted a pair of power-plays, and while on a 5-on-3 two-man advantage, Peterka and Quinn exchanged passes before Quinn sent a one-time feed across the slot to Krebs. The goal was Krebs’ second of his AHL career and first of the season.

With the primary helper, Quinn has totaled 21 points (9+12) in his last 17 games dating back to last season while Peterka has 10 points (3+7) since Oct. 30.

Unfortunately for Rochester, despite outshooting Utica 15-3 during the final 20 minutes of regulation, that would be as close as they would get as Schmid and the Comets survived the late push for the 5-3 win.

The Amerks look for redemption as they complete the two-game set in a rematch against the Comets on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at the Adirondack Bank Center. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the fourth of 12 scheduled meetings between the two clubs this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.