BY WARREN KOZIRESKI —
ROCHESTER, NY — Rochester netted three power play goals and eight total to defeat Toronto 8-4 and sweep their best-of-five North Division finals series. The Amerks advanced to the conference finals and AHL semi-finals for the first time since 2003-04 and marked their first playoff series sweep since 2005.
Lukas Rousek had a four-point game with one goal while rookie Isak Rosen scored twice to lead the offense.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get through here and to get two goals in front of 10,000 fans on a Wednesday night is amazing,” Rosen said.
“I was just thinking ‘gotta get it to the net’ and got a pretty good shot off (on the power play goal) and…(Mason) Jobst made a really good play and I just stayed back door and Jobber found me back door. Two good goals—a good shot and going to the net, so just (need to) keep that in mind and keep going.”
Rochester fell behind just 17 seconds into the contest but rebounded to lead 3-1 after the first period on goals from defenseman Ethan Prow, Kevin Olischefski and Rousek.
The two teams traded two second period tallies each with rookie Juri Kulich scoring his sixth goal in six games and Rosen before the Amerks netted three in the third from Rosen, Brett Murray and defenseman Matt Bartkowski into an empty net to seal the victory.
“February 20th we were in sixth place and out of the playoffs, so our backs have been against the wall for two-and-a-half months and our guys have been growing with confidence…so the response after the first goal didn’t surprise me at all,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said.
“The success of this group wasn’t preordained, they’ve had to work to become the group we are and…mindset is we’re not done yet, but that will be a banner that goes up there that this group earned that stays forever.”
Rochester will face Hershey, who swept their series with Hartford in the conference finals in a 2-2-1-1-1 series starting Tuesday in Hershey. Rochester is home Memorial Day weekend on the following Saturday and Monday.