Rochester, N.Y. (WGR 550) – For the first time in 19 years, the Rochester Americans are in the AHL Eastern Conference Finals thanks to a three-game sweep of the Toronto Marlies.
The Amerks continued their dominance over the first place Marlies with an 8-4 victory on Wednesday night in front of a sellout home crowd.
Toronto finished the regular season with 90 points to win the North Division, while the Amerks were tied for second, nine points back.
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Thanks to injuries, Joseph Woll had to play three games in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Woll was 1-2 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
Once the Leafs were eliminated in five games by the Florida Panthers, Woll was sent back to the Marlies and started Game 3 in Rochester. He, obviously, wasn’t ready to play, as he allowed seven goals on 36 shots faced.
Just 17 seconds into the game, Toronto scored to take the lead, but Rochester didn’t blink.
Ethan Prow tied the game at the 3:05 mark, and then Kohen Olischefski and Lukas Rousek sent the Amerks into the intermission up two goals.
Rousek was not only great offensively with a goal and three assists, he was equally as good defensively, breaking up many dangerous rushes.
If I were Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams, I think I’d be cutting ties with Zemgus Girgensons and replacing him with the 24-year-old Rousek. In this year’s playoffs, Rousek has two goals and seven assists for nine points. His seven assists rank him eighth overall in the AHL playoffs.
Juri Kulich had a goal and two assists, giving him a goal in all six of the playoff games he’s played. He has nine points overall, and his six goals are third in the playoffs, one goal off the lead.
Mason Jobst has filled in for Brandon Biro on the top line and has 11 points, which ranks him fourth in league scoring. He’s five points behind Kole Lind of the Coachella Valley Firebirds in four fewer games.
When all was said and done on Wednesday, the Amerks finished their three-game series with Toronto with 19 goals.
Rochester won this game, partly because the power play went 3-for-3 on the night. Overall in the series, the Amerks were 7-of-11 with the man advantage.
Leading 5-3 after 40 minutes, the Amerks started the third period playing sloppy. They would have chances to get the puck out of their end to relieve pressure and would fail. That forced Malcolm Subban into four Grade-A saves in the first five minutes of the period.
The one thing about Rochester during its six-game playoff winning streak is they didn’t have too many stretches like this, but when they do, they play their way out of it.
Wednesday was no different, as Isak Rosen scored his second goal of the night, tipping in a Jobst shot to extend the lead to 6-3 with 10:15 to go.
Next up for the Amerks is a matchup with their longtime AHL rival Hershey Bears. Head coach Seth Appert called them the best team in the Eastern Conference, even though the Providence Bruins had one more point than the Bears in the regular season.
Hershey also swept the Hartford Wolf Pack on Wednesday to reach the Conference Finals. They also beat the Charlotte Checkers in four games the series before. That means Hershey is 6-1 in the postseason, while Rochester is 6-2.
Game 1 is in Hershey on Tuesday night. Game 3 is in Rochester on Saturday, May 27, while Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Monday, May 29.