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Rochester Sweep Marlies, Face Hershey In Calder Cup Eastern Final

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The Rochester Americans are advancing to the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2004 after a three-game sweep of the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday.

“(On)February 20, we were in sixth place and we were sitting outside the playoffs.” Americans head coach Seth Appert said after the game. “Our backs have been against the wall for 2 1/2 months. Our guys have been playing like that and growing this confidence in big moments.”

The 8-4 thrashing of the Marlies at Blue Cross Arena was Rochester’s sixth straight victory after trailing 2-0 to Syracuse in the second round. The Americans rallied with a pair of home victories and a 5-4 overtime win in Game 5 after blowing a three-goal lead late in regulation. After holding on for a 4-3 win at Coca-Cola Coliseum on Thursday, Rochester blew out the Marlies 7-4 on Saturday, and responded to an early body blow on Wednesday, as Toronto’s Pontus Holmberg scored just 17 seconds into the game.

Rochester rallied and scored seven times on AHL All-Star goalie Joseph Woll, including three times on the man advantage. The Americans balanced scoring attack was led by Buffalo Sabres prospects Jiri Kulich, Isak Rosen, and Lukas Rousek. Kulich scored a goal in his sixth straight game and added a pair of assists on Wednesday,  Rosen scored a pair of goals (including the game-winning power-play marker in the second period), while Rousek had a goal and three assists.

 

“Players and prospects can develop, but we can also win. You can’t win at the expense of your prospects, (and) we’re not, but it is part of development. You look at Tampa Bay, (which) has been investing in the AHL for most (of the) last decade. A lot of those guys won in Norfolk or had good deep runs in Syracuse and these are important experiences.” Appert said. “(Our young players) have played in pressure-packed games, elimination games, back-against-the-wall games. They’re invaluable experiences that you cannot fake and you can’t replicate them. You have to live them.”

The Americans take on the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference Final, who swept the Hartford Wolf Pack with a 3-1 win on Wednesday. The series begins with two games in Hershey on Tuesday, May 23rd, and Thursday, May 25th, before shifting back to Rochester for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday, May 27th, and Monday, May 29th.

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