By Warren Kozireski —
Rochester, NY — Storytellers couldn’t have written a better script with a player nicknamed R2 (Arttu Ruotsalainen) scoring the overtime winner on May 4th as Rochester defeated Belleville in Game One of the best-of-three first round playoff series. It marked the Amerks first overtime win since 2004 and broke a six-game postseason overtime losing streak.
6.000 fans sounded like 10,000 as Rochester battled back from a 3-0 second period deficit with three unanswered goals in the third period to force overtime, where defenseman Josh Teves danced at the blueline before delivering a shot on goal that was tipped home.
“I saw Teves with the puck at the point and I tried to battle at the front of the net and…I’m not even sure that it hit me, but I don’t even care; it went in and I went crazy,” Ruotsalainen said.
Fourth liner Lukas Rousek started the comeback after taking a perfect feed from JJ Peterka after Brandon Biro absorbed a center-ice hit to get the puck in the zone.Then the Amerks defenseman had success jumping up into the play as first Jimmy Schuldt made it a one goal game at 13:19 and Casey Fitzgerald tied it at 16:03 after a great toe-drag in the slot following an extended offensive zone shift.
Rochester goaltender Aaron Dell, celebrating his 33rd birthday, made 24 saves including ten in the extra session.
“It would have been an easy game to go away against a team that physical and that demanding and down by three…but we said if we get one (goal) in the first seven or eight minutes (of the third), the place is going to blow the top off and that what will help us create the momentum we need to come back,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said about the atmosphere at Blue Cross Arena.
Rochester will try to win their first playoff series since 2005–with Ryan Miller and Jason Pominville on the team–in Game Two Friday night or Game Three Sunday, both in Belleville.
Note: Rochester rookie forward Linus Weissbach left the ice with a lot of assistance on his first shift of the game after a hit by Belleville forward Mark Kastelic that sent him hard into the boards near the penalty boxes. He is expected to miss a considerable amount of time according to Appert.
(Rochester Amerks Photo)