Forward Sean Malone (1+1) and defensemen Mattias Samuelsson (0+2) and Josh Teves (0+2) all turned in multi-point performances to lift the Rochester Americans (13-6-0-0) to a 5-3 victory over the North Division rival Laval Rocket (10-10-2-0) Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
The Amerks have won five straight and six of their last seven games, which includes four on home ice. Rochester improves to an all-time record of 16-3-0 against Laval and have won 12 of the last 13 games dating back to the 2017-18 campaign. Additionally, the Amerks are 8-0-0-0 in their last eight games with the Rocket and show a 10-1-0-0 since the start of the 2018-19 season and have outscored the Rocket 39-22 over that span.
While Malone, Samuelsson and Teves all had two points, Michael Mersch scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season while Brandon Biro and Mitch Eliot each scored their first goals of the season, with Eliot’s holding up as the eventual game-winner. Ryan MacInnis capped off the scoring late in the third period while Casey Fitzgerald, Ethan Prow and Arttu Ruotsalainen notched an assist in the win.
Goaltender Mat Robson, who was recalled from the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) earlier in the week, made his second straight appearance after making his Amerks debut in Wednesday’s win over Utica. The netminder stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced to push his record to 2-0-0 since joining the team.
Laval, who saw its season-long three-game win streak come to an end, was paced by forward Lukas Vejdemo’s two-goal effort and former Amerk Tobie Paquette-Bisson’s second goal of the season. Third-year netminder Cayden Primeau (7-6-1) made 28 saves in his fifth consecutive appearance in the Rocket crease.
Despite the Rocket opening the scoring seconds after a successful Amerks penalty kill, Rochester responded with a pair of goals 4:11 apart to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission break.
On the Amerks first goal of the night, Fitzgerald sent a pass across the blueline to the left point for Samuelsson. As the rookie blueliner gathered the puck, he uncorked a shot, but as luck would have it, the rebound landed to the left of the netminder, where Biro tucked it into the net for his first of the season and just his third of his professional career.
With the primary assist, Samuelsson has notched nine points (1+8) over his last 10 outings and is already within three points of matching his offensive output from 2020-21 while Fitzgerald is three points from equaling his personal-best.
After Biro’s tally at the 12:02 mark, Malone found the back of the net as he attempted a cross-ice pass to JJ Peterka, but the puck glanced off the skate of a Laval defender before sliding past Primeau with 3:47 left in the stanza.
Malone has goals in five straight games for the first time in his pro career, which includes 10 points (6+4) over that span. Additionally, the fifth-year pro has recorded multi-point showings in four of his last five games dating back to Nov. 17.
The Rocket countered back 70 seconds into the second frame as Vejdemo notched his second marker of the night after he snuck in a backdoor feed from Alex Belzile.
Rochester countered back to regain its lead with just under eight minutes left as Mersch picked the upper left corner on a seemingly innocent shot from the right half wall that handcuffed Primeau for his team-leading 12th goal of the campaign. Over his last 17 games, Mersch, a four-time 20-goal scorer, has totaled 19 points (12+7) and five multi-point outings.
The Amerks doubled their lead to 4-2 as Eliot recorded his first in a Rochester uniform 5:14 into the third period. The defenseman capitalized just in front of the crease, but much of the credit went to Teves, who bobbed and weaved into the offensive zone while carrying the puck.
Prow also earned an assist on tally, his ninth helper of the season, which ranks third among all Amerks defensemen
Laval trimmed Rochester’s two-goal advantage to make it a 4-3 score with 6:59 remaining in regulation, and despite pulling its goaltender, MacInnis sealed the victory as he booked his fourth of the season from Samuelsson.
The Amerks embark on a four-game road swing on Tuesday, Dec. 14 in the first of back-to-back meetings with the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the opening matchup of four this season between the two clubs and the first of two in Queen City. All the action will be carried live on The Fan Rochester (95.7 FM) as well as AHLTV.