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Amerks drop second straight to Checkers

For the second time in as many nights, the Rochester Americans (13-8-0-0) could not find a way to defeat the Charlotte Checkers (13-10-2-0), dropping a 4-2 decision in the back-end of a two-game set between the two teams Wednesday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

It marks the first time all season the Amerks, who came into the midweek set in Charlotte riding a five-game win streak, have dropped back-to-back contests in regulation. Following tonight’s setback, Rochester falls to 1-9-0 against Charlotte since the start of the 2018-19 campaign and own a 3-10-1 mark dating back to the 2017-18 season.

Rookie forward Brandon Biro notched his third two-point outing of the campaign as he scored a goal to go with an assist. Over his last five games, the former Penn State standout has logged four points (2+2). Ryan Scarfo added his first marker of the season in the opening period for the Amerks while Josh Teves, Ethan Prow and Michael Mersch all recorded an assist.

Goaltender Michael Houser (2-1-0) made his first start since Nov. 27, and despite making 32 saves, he suffered his first defeat with the Rochester on the year.

First-year forward Logan Hutsko (2+1) and former Amerk Scott Wilson (2+0) each scored twice for Charlotte, who has now won five of its last six games to start the month of December. Grigori Denisenko, Chase Priskie and Gustav Olofsson all chipped in a helper while Devan Dubnyk (2-0-0) earned his second win of the season as made 21 saves.

After being outshot 6-0 through the first seven minutes of the contest, Biro jumpstarted a play within the Rochester zone by leaving the puck for Scarfo near the right circle. As the forward gathered the puck, he sprinted the length of the ice before firing a seemingly innocent shot on net from just inside the blueline. The shot glanced off the glove of Dubnyk, who somehow mishandled it, before finding the back of the net to break the scoreless game at the 7:33 mark.

The marker that the Amerks carried into the intermission served as Scarfo’s first of the slate and first since March 1, 2021.

Charlotte emerged from the break and quickly flipped the deficit into a 2-1 advantage as Wilson netted his first of two on the night and Hutsko capitalized on a power-play goal less than four minutes later.

Just over four minutes later, though, the Amerks were awarded a power-play of their own, and with nine seconds remaining in the infraction, Biro tied the score at two with 11:15 to play in the frame. Rochester registered three shots on the man-advantage before Biro patiently unleased a shot from atop the left face-off dot as Dubnyk was screened by Mersch.

Prior to the completion of the stanza, Charlotte regained its lead as Wilson poked a loose puck overtop the right arm of Houser at the 13:27 mark.

During the final 20 minutes of regulation, the teams combined for 13 shots but only a handful were scoring chances as both goaltenders kept the game a 3-2 affair. In an attempt to even the score, the Amerks pulled Houser for an extra attacker, however, Hutsko stripped a Rochester skater in front of the vacant net and the slid the puck in to secure the 4-2 victory for Charlotte.

Following a pair of games in North Carolina, the back half of Rochester’s four-game road swing shifts to Pennsylvania beginning on Saturday, Dec. 18 in Allenton as the Amerks close out their season series against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at PPL Center. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the second and final meeting of the season between the two clubs and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.