The Rochester Americans advanced in the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Syracuse Crunch in a deciding Game 5 on Saturday, but it was more dramatic than it needed to be.
Lawrence Pilut with the key to the #CalderCup North Division Finals 🗝️
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) May 7, 2023
The Americans held a 4-1 lead late in the second period on goals by Tyson Kozak, Lawrence Pilut, Jiri Kulich, and Michael Mersch, but Syracuse narrowed the lead to two goals with just 14 seconds left in the middle frame and tied the game with 30 seconds left in regulation and their goalie pulled for the extra attacker.
In overtime, the Americans took advantage of a Syracuse delay of game penalty, as Pilut scored his second of the game past Crunch goalie Hugo Alnefelt.
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Rochester reflects some of the same traits as the parent club Sabres, with gifted offensive players that have not rounded out their game at the defensive end of the ice.
“I liked our first two periods a lot,” Americans head coach Seth Appert said to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I thought we played aggressive, attacking, very mature for a young team in a big game on the road. And the third was obviously poor. We played immature. We talked going into the third, we play our best in attack mode, on our front foot. That’s what we talked about going out there, but you know, sometimes when you haven’t lived a lot of those moments you get a little tentative and you want to play safe.”
Prospects Piling Up Points
It was a strong night for Sabres first-rounders Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen. The 19-year-old Czech scored his third goal of the series in the first period, and Rosen was +3 and had a pair of assists for the Americans(including the primary helper on Pilut’s game-winner).
NOW IT'S JIRI KULICH 🚨 pic.twitter.com/6ahHXtq05p
— x-Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) May 7, 2023
With the victory, the Americans advance to the North Division Final against the Toronto Marlies. Games 1 and 2 of the series are on Thursday and Saturday in Toronto, with Games 3 and 4 in Rochester at Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday, May 17 and Friday, May 19.
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