The Rochester Americans may have finally found the way to win an overtime game, score within 12 seconds before the other team has the chance to posses the puck.
Seems like a pretty simple idea but puck possession is something they’ve struggled with. Going into Friday night they had lost the last three games played in overtime and in those games they had been out shot 12-0. Since January they have lost eight of nine overtime games. In the losses they have been out shot 19-6.
Colin Blackwell undressed Checkers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic on a breakaway in overtime for the win. One goal off of one shot, game over.
“I think mentally it was great for the guys, we needed it,” Chris Taylor said after the game. “We’ve gone to a lot of overtimes and lost them. I really liked how the guys mentally at the end stuck with it and obviously a great play in overtime.”
(Featured photo credit: Micheline Veluvolu; Rochester Americans team photographer)
The game didn’t start off too well for the Amerks in the first period. They played sloppy and didn’t have a lot of energy to their game.
Charlotte scored first when Trevor Carrick simply shot the puck, may have been a pass, across the front of the net and as Sean Malone attempted to play the puck it went off his stick and in the net. Second game in a row a bounce has gone off an Amerks stick and into the net.
Rochester showed up to play in the second period as a brand new team. Chris Taylor was asked after the game what was said during the intermission and he said, “That’s for us in the locker room, not good words.”
Colin Blackwell talked about that first period intermission saying, “After the first period we all came in and we knew it wasn’t good enough. We played awful. Taylor came and told us how it was and I don’t think anyone would have argued with him at all. We all looked at each other, the leadership group stepped up and said it’s everybody in this locker room we have to step up one by one, shift by shift.”
When asked how the game went Zach Redmond said, “I think we got pretty outplayed in the first and we stuck with it. Kind of got better as the game went on which is something that you need to do in the playoffs. You’re not always going to have a perfect start but we got our act together and found a way.”
Alexander Nylander scored his seventh goal of the season with a snipe from just inside the face off circle at 4:13 of the second period to tie the game at one. Colin Blackwell controlled the puck in a battle along the boards, worked away from his defender, passed the puck to Nylander and a quick release put it in the back of the net.
“Nylander getting that goal pretty early got our confidence going and I think we all kind of looked at each other and said I think we can be the line tonight and it worked out,” Blackwell said after the game referring to his line mates of Nylander and Hudson Fasching.
Julien Gauthier gave the Checkers a 2-1 lead at 10:38 of the first period. Trevor Carrick had the puck along the boards, passed it to Gauthier in the slot and he beat Johansson blocker side.
The third period started fast when Colin Blackwell scored his first of two goals only 35 seconds into the period. Stuart Percy handed the puck off to Blackwell in the Amerks zone and up the ice he went. Along the side boards, into the Checkers zone, a quick move of his body getting the defender to flinch and he shot the puck under the pad of Nedeljkovic.
Justin Bailey was serving a tripping penalty when Andrew Poturalski spotted Greg McKegg wide open in front of the net to give the Checkers their third and final lead of the game at 9:53 of the third period.
Blackwell earned his second assist of the net at 14:37 of the third period winning a face off to Zach Redmond who snuck a shot from the boards into the net to tie the game 3-3.
After the game Redmond said, “I think it shows how much character we have, I think that’s been the strength of our team all year. Not getting down when we’re down a goal or two or don’t start well. That’s just kind of a testament to our club and something that we need to stick with moving into the playoffs.”
As the buzzer sounder to go into overtime the general feeling was here we go again but Blackwell took control and proved everyone wrong. He won the face off to Zach Redmond, took off down the ice, Redmond served up the pass and Blackwell scored on a breakaway only 12 seconds into overtime.
Redmond talked about overtime saying, “I think in my opinion you need one guy to beat another guy and you have an odd man rush. I think speed is the biggest asset in overtime.”
When asked about the goal Blackwell said, “To be honest with you I just kind of blacked out.” Since returning from an injury Blackwell has 18 points (6G+12A) in 17 games. He said tonight that the injury that had him out for 13 games may have been a blessing in disguise because he’s feeling great right now. Prior to the injury he had 18 points (5G+13A) in 37 games.
News arrived early on Friday morning that Adam Wilcox had been called up to the Buffalo Sabres due to a Robin Lehner injury (day to day, lower body). This is on top of the Linus Ullmark injury (day to day, concussion). The move meant that Jason Kasdorf would join the Amerks and that left the Cincinnati Cyclones without any goalies on their roster at the moment.
Those moves meant Jonas Johannson would be starting in net for the Amerks even if that wasn’t the original plan. It’s always mentioned that a team needs a goalie to steal a game once in a while and Friday night may have been that game. He’d probably like to have the second goal back but can’t really do much on the first one (scored by your own player) and the third one was on the power play.
Blackwell talked about Johannson saying, “When you have a goalie that stands on his head like that it kind of rallies the crew too and basically we’re all looking at each other between periods and on the bench saying that we have to rally for this guy because he’s playing out of his mind.”
“The biggest guy for me was Jonas,” Chris Taylor said after the game. “Made some big saves for us.”
Big saves from the goalie, minimal mistakes in the game and puck possession in overtime was all it took for the Amerks to finally win a game in overtime.
Next game is Saturday night against the Binghamton Devils, a team that has won the last four games between played against the Amerks. A reinforcement was on the bus with the team and will be an added offensive threat, Kyle Criscuolo. He’s missed the last 11 Amerks games while called up to Buffalo and also recovering from an upper body injury.
That was the 28th overtime game of the season for the Rochester Americans. The league record is 29 games which was set in an 80 game season. Based on percentage of games the Amerks have already broke that record. Two more and they’ll break it based on number of games. With seven games left in the season it’s possible.
A fun Friday night win means very little without another win on Saturday.