ROCHESTER (LGS) — There were few smiles in the postgame lockerroom last Wednesday night for the Rochester Americans. The team had just suffered its first home loss of the season to the Milwaukee Admirals, 4-3 in overtime. There were no orange slices or punch for the team that opened the season 9-0-0 at home. However, there was a burning sense of desire to get back to winning hockey games.
Following Wednesday’s loss to the Admirals, head coach Randy Cunneyworth said that the Amerks did not create enough scoring chances and added that good things happen when you put pucks on net. Did they ever.
To open their weekend series of games, the Amerks made good on their wish, beating the Iowa Stars in a thrilling 5–2 contest. Greg Jucina netted a pair of goals, and Brandon Smith, Mark Mancari and Rostislav Oslez scored one apiece.
Jucina started the scoring just 5:49 into the contest. Driving hard to the net as Andrej Sekera worked his way down the right-wing boards, "Juice" one-timed Sekera’s flip pass into the net.
“Juice has been hungry around the net. He’s got great anticipation,” Cunneyworth said. “It also shows you Sekera’s instincts. He read that someone was going hard to the net, then made a nifty play and flipping it on net.”
Jucina potted his second by crashing the net once again. Martin Lojek entered the Iowa zone and let a shot fly on Tobias Stephan. Stephan made the initial stop, but the pad save rebounded right to the streaking Guelph native. Jucina made like Vernon Wells and belted a line drive into the back of the net. It was the alternate captain’s eighth goal and third two-goal game of the season.
“I kind of anticipated a rebound there,” the Florida Panther prospect said afterwards. “The goalie was sprawling and I was able to put it in.”
Iowa scored two goals in the second period six and a half minutes apart when Chris Conner and Marty Sertich both beat Adam Dennis.
The contest also saw Smith extend his point-scoring streak to six games when he tallied the night’s second goal. The captain blasted a shot from the point on the power play, which a screened Dan Ellis could not stop.
The Amerks then hit the road for the first games of their six-game road trip, and in the first game it appeared that they left their game in Rochester. They were blanked at the hands of the Hamilton Bulldogs, 6-0. Randy Cunneyworth was denied in his quest for his 250th win behind the Amerks' bench.
However, coach wouldn’t have to wait long. The next night Rochester traveled up the QEW to Toronto to take on the Marlies and came away 5-4 winners in overtime.
Trailing 3-1, and then 4-2, the Amerks mounted a major third-period comeback. Anthony Stewart and Marek Zagrapan each netted third-period tallies to send the game into overtime.
The Amerks put 17 shots on net in the third and totaled 40 for the game.
1. Greg Jucina – money around the net
2. Brandon Smith – the captain has been having a great year offensively and defensively
3. Rostislav Olsez – on recall from Florida, terrifically gifted player who should be a force in the NHL
► Randy Cunneyworth won his 250th game as head coach of the Rochester Americans when the Amerks defeated Toronto on Sunday.
► Drew Larman (Florida) collected his first NHL goal on Friday when he scored against Ottawa’s Ray Emery.
► The Amerks received six players back on recall from the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers: Daniel Paille, Mike Funk, Drew Stafford and Michael Ryan (all from Buffalo), and David Booth and Larman from Florida.