|By Warren Kozireski —|
Players and coaches often talk about momentum and a sell-out crowd at the Blue Cross Arena experienced it first-hand Wednesday night in the third longest playoff game in Rochester Amerks history. It ended with former Amerk Jean-Sebatien Dea scoring 1:51 into the third overtime for a 6-5 victory and a sweep of their best-of-five division final series.
“Overall, a great experience for all of us, but it still sucks to lose,” rookie forward JJ Peterka said. “One play can decide the game and that’s what happened.”
Rochester jumped to a 2-0 first lead as first Mark Jankowski scored after a funny bounce ended up on his stick in the slot just 1:04 into the contest and JJ Peterka used a perfect screen from Ryan MacInnis to beat the goaltender high stick side at 8:05.
The tide turned in the second as Laval scored four times over a five-minute span to take a 4-2 lead.
But Rochester reclaimed the momentum on the first shift of the third period as Brett Murray skated out from behind the net and scored short side and, 69 seconds later, Peterka netted his seventh goal of the playoffs after a perfect feed from Peyton Krebs to knot the game 4-4.
Murray then put the Amerks ahead 5-4 with a redirect of an Etan Prow shot at 8:35 of the third and it stood that way until Laval, on the power play and with the goaltender pulled for the extra-attacker, tied it with 67 seconds remaining in regulation to send it to overtime.
Laval outshot Rochester 24-12 in the overtimes and 60-39 overall.
“This is a great group that went through so much adversity and never gave up on each other, so probably more disappointed that this group of men will never get to be a team again,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said.
“And I thought tonight was fitting down 4-2 in the third and no quit put ourselves in position and should have closed it out, but we didn’t—credit to Laval.”
The Amerks season ends after defeating Belleville and division top-seed Utica and advancing to the third round of the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. It was their 11th trip to the Division Finals in the franchise’s 66-year history.
Rochester’s longest playoff game was April 10, 1982 in four overtimes against New Haven. Their second was 104:18 (three overtimes) on April 16, 1967 and this now slots third ahead of June 9, 1999 in the Calder Cup Finals against Providence that ended :55 into the third extra session.