ROCHESTER, NY – If you watched Wednesday’s game between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Rochester Americans, and then watched Friday night’s rematch, you’d wonder if Rochester used an entirely different group of players. Gone from Wednesday were the bevy of missed passes, and they registered a season high in shots (40) while holding Lehigh Valley to just 20.
Nick Baptiste registered three assist, Cole Schneider tallied a goal and an assist, and Taylor Fedun got the game winner in ovrtime as the Amerks won 4-3 at Blue Cross Arena.
Things didn’t look so good for Lehigh Valley in the opening frame. They managed just four shots to the Americans’ 15 and they found themselves down by two less than 12 minutes into the game, and it wasn’t without controversy.
Cal O’Reilly’s goal at 5:59 was reviewed after the referee waived it off. Baptiste threw a pass from the near boards through the slot, and it found O’Reilly at the back post. The puck appeared to go off O’Reilly’s skate. Ultimately, the review was inconclusive and the goal was allowed to stand.
Less than 5 minutes later, Cole Schneider put a puck in the crease from the same spot as Baptiste’s pass. The pass found Tim Kennedy cutting through the slot, and he deflected the pass past Alex Lyon. It was Kennedy’s first goal since returning to North America from Lulea of the Swedish Elite League.
The Phantoms again had trouble getting the puck to the net in the second, this time getting only four shots in the period. On the positive side, it took them all of 89 seconds to erase the zero from the scoreboard. With Greg Carey cherry-picking in the neutral zone, Will O’Neill put a long stretch pass on Carey’s tape that ked to a breakaway goal for his 13th of the season, giving him sole possession of third place in the American Hockey League.
Danick Martel’s 8th at 6:12 would tie the game at 6:12, but Schneider restored Rochester’s lead less than 4 minutes later on a bizarre goal. A Baptiste slapshot hit Lyon in the mask and bounced into the air, Jean Dupuy knocked it down, and Schneider tapped it in for his 12th of the campaign.
Chris Conner’s 8th tied the game at 8:44 of the third, and despite a number of solid chances for Rochester, the game went to overtime.
Six seconds into the extra session, Jordan Weal took a questionable cross-checking call that gave the Amerks a four on three man advantage. Rochester was deliberate in moving the puck around, working to find the open shooting lane. Taylor Fedun hit the post with a rocket from just inside the blueline that ricocheted to Baptiste who got the puck back to Fedun.
He walked to the top of the circles and this time, tucked a slapper inside the right post to end the game.
Notes: With Will O’Neill returning from suspension, Maxim LaMarche returned to being the lone scratch for the Phantoms. By virtue of the overtime loss, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Head Coach Clark Donatelli, Captain of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, will coach the Atlantic Division Contingent at next month’s AHL All-Star Classic.
3 Stars: 3) LV-T.J. Brennan (2 Assists)
2) RCH-Cole Schneider (Goal, Assist)
1) RCH-Taylor Fedun (Overtime Game Winning Goal)
Up Next: Lehigh Valley is off until next Friday, when they host former Phantom Petr Straka and the Albany Devils at 7:05.