Jeremy Davies takes a hit from Syracuse’s Daniel Walcott on Friday. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Rochester Amerks’ season ends with loss to Syracuse: ‘That one stings’

ROCHESTER – When the Syracuse Crunch pounced on the Americans early Friday, opening up a 2-0 lead before the 10-minute mark, few believed the visitors would run away with the decisive Game 5.

The first four meetings in the AHL North Division semifinal had been bitterly contested, with one goal deciding each game. The last three games had ended in overtime. In Game 4, the Amerks erased a three-goal, third-period deficit to force Friday’s contest.

So while it took the Amerks time, they got back into the game and made things interesting, creeping to within one goal twice.

They couldn’t, however, get the equalizer. The Crunch pulled away late, downing the Amerks 5-2 before a capacity crowd of 10,758 fans in Blue Cross Arena.

“That one stings,” Amerks coach Seth Appert said. “I said it earlier, unfortunately, somebody’s going to lose. Both, I think, Syracuse and us are teams that are capable of deep runs. It just happens that the North Division is such a bear that you have to play each other early.”

A season after advancing to the Eastern Conference final in the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Amerks’ campaign is over after one round. The Buffalo Sabres’ affiliate won two series in each of the past two years.

Cole Koepke put the game away 14:50 into the third period, making it 4-2 on a two-on-one break after Amerks defenseman Zach Metsa fanned on a shot in the Syracuse zone. Felix Robert added a late empty-net goal.

Don’t let the three-goal margin fool you. Friday’s game was tight following a slow start.

Declan Carlile opened the scoring 2:28 into the contest, beating Amerks goalie Devon Levi from the point. Levi said it deflected in. Koepke made it 2-0 at 9:43 from the top of right circle.

The Amerks, meanwhile, mustered nothing. They finally recorded their first shot on goal at 10:39.

“Another kind of unacceptable start,” Amerks center Mason Jobst said. “We dug ourselves a hole a few times in this series and we were lucky enough to get out of it, but you can’t continue to do it and expect to just come back and hope that Levi continues to shut the door back there.”

Defenseman Jeremy Davies got the Amerks going 17:33 into the period period, pinching in to score.

Rochester carried that momentum into the second period before Jordy Bellerive’s open-ice hit knocked Davies out of the game.

“The first six, seven, eight minutes of the second we were all over them – we had them on their heels, we had pace,” Appert said. “Then Davies takes that hit and it was a harder game for us after that. I know how much Jeremy Davies means to our team. But if anybody wondered, just watch the last 30 minutes tonight.

“We were not nearly as dynamic. We couldn’t end as many plays. We couldn’t transition with enough pace after he was out.”

Appert said Bellerive should’ve been penalized.

“It was a blindside to the head,” he said.

He added: “There’s calls missed all over throughout the game every game. So that (doesn’t) have anything to do with why we lost.”

After Waltteri Merela put the Crunch up two goals again at 8:35, Amerks captain Michael Mersch scored a power-play goal at 10:33.

Then the Crunch mostly stifled the Amerks the rest of the way.

“They did a good job in the third, throughout the game, of slowing it down, slowing the tempo. We play better fast and north,” Appert said. “They’re a big, physical, older team, slow and structured.”

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