If there was one way for the Rochester Americans to forget their 8-1 opening night loss to defending Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids, it was to just to get win against visiting Utica on Friday, October 11.
They got that and more by beating the Comets in convincing fashion, 4-1.
Center Luke Adam notched two goals and goalie Matt Hackett registered 30 saves as Rochester opened a 4-0 lead and never looked back. It was an overall solid effort for the Americans, who evened their record to 1-1 on the young season.
“It was a good step for us tonight,” said Americans head coach Chadd Cassidy. “We worked on a lot of things this week. I think it was a simplification of our game that helped us.”
Adam was parked on the doorstep for both of his tallies, putting the puck into an open net thanks to an opportunistic rebound and some nifty passing from his teammates.
“If we’re winning hockey games and I’m able to contribute, I’m happy,” Adam said. “We’re only two games in. I can’t get ahead of myself at all.”
Hackett stood tall on several occasions, making two highlight reel glove saves before Utica spoiled his shutout bid late in the third period. Against the Griffins, he was pulled after giving up six goals on 30 shots.
“I was thinking ‘Just shut the door’,” Hackett said of his mindset entering the game. “I was busy, but my defense helped me. When I can see the puck, it makes my job a lot easier.”
Right from the opening faceoff, the Americans used speed and a tenacious forecheck to keep Utica hemmed in its own end. That hard work paid dividends almost immediately. Rochester opened the scoring at 6:32 of the first period after a quick Colton Gilles shot handcuffed Utica goalie Joe Cannata, leaving a rebound for Dan Catenacci to stuff home. Adam’s first came with 16 seconds left in the period after a blistering drive by Jamie Tardiff bounded off Cannata’s pads right to Adam’s stick.
The only thing that seemed to slow the Americans were television time-outs. They took the body and buzzed around Cannata, until Kevin Sundher’s sharp angled shot from the corner surprised the Comets netminder to make it 3-0 after two.
Utica came out a different team in the third period, controlling most of the play until Tardiff sent a bouncing puck toward Cannata that wound up right on Adam’s stick.
The Comets got on the board at 13:30, as Pascal Pelletier walked in unscathed and put the puck over Hackett’s right shoulder.
Also finishing with helpers for Rochester were Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Chad Ruhwedel, Tim Schaller, and Phil Varone. Biega and Peter Anderson had assists on Pelletier’s tally.
With six seconds remaining, Utica’s Alex Biega sent Rochester’s Colin Jacobs face first into the boards, resulting in a scrum that sent off Utica’s Darren Archibald with a game misconduct for elbowing.
It was Utica’s first ever trip to Rochester as an affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks…Hackett’s snare of a blistering Jeremy Welsh shot drew admiration from the Rochester faithful…Rochester finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Utica went 0-for-3…Shots were 31-22 in favor of the visitors…Three stars were Adam, Hackett, and Tardiff…Attendance was 3,690…Rochester visits Syracuse, then returns home for two games October 18-19.