Saturday buzz: Amerks’ offense clicking

Photo: Micheline V

📝 by Patrick Williams

The Rochester Americans could feel this one building.

On a three-game losing streak and with six days to prepare for the Hartford Wolf Pack, Rochester unloaded with six straight goals in a little more than 17 minutes on the way to an 8-4 victory on Friday night.

The Amerks, who beat Laval by the same 8-4 score on Feb. 24, have scored at least eight goals in consecutive home games for the first time since Dec. 11 and Dec. 13, 1992. They have piled up 38 goals in their last seven games overall.

The win moved Rochester to 59 points, good for fourth in the ever-shifting North Division. They hit the road to face third-place Syracuse tonight, followed by Sunday’s home matinee against conference-leading Toronto.

“This group has certainly come throughout the year,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said. “They care about each other. They practice the right way. They work hard. They treat each other well.

“We’re a team that [has] practiced well all year, but the last three weeks we’ve seen a big jump in energy and execution, competitiveness, and the consistency of that. And then we’ve seen that translate into the games.”

On Friday, Brandon Biro, Rochester’s leading scorer with 45 points (14 goals, 31 assists) in 44 games, centered a line with a pair of first-round draft picks, 18-year-old Jiri Kulich and 19-year-old Isak Rosen. The trio combined for nine points, led by Biro’s goal and four assists.

Biro and Rosen also helped the Amerks to a 4-for-7 night on the power play, with defenseman Ethan Prow adding a goal and three assists as well. Rochester is 10-for-26 with the man advantage over their last seven.

Penalties throughout the game limited the ability of Biro’s line to stay intact, but the trio still managed to create problems for Hartford.

“I thought when we were out there we created some good plays,” Biro said.

A former NCAA goaltender, Appert loved his team’s net-front work Friday, as they scored seven times to chase Wolf Pack starter Dylan Garand after two periods.

“I thought we had a real strong commitment to screen the goaltender,” Appert said. “I think we made the game hard the first two periods with the amount of times we were in his eyes, taking his vision away making his ability to track the puck very difficult.

“It really ticks me off when we’re not good at it. I think we’re getting better and better.”

Friday’s win also started out this hectic weekend on a strong note.

“It is really important just to kind of keep the team composed,” Biro pointed out. “Sometimes when you lose that first game you feel like there’s a lot of pressure coming into that second game knowing you lost that first one.

“Everyone feels a little bit better about their game when you’re winning, so I think that’ll be important going into [tonight]. It’s obviously a huge game playing Syracuse.”

“I like our team a lot,” Appert said. “I like what they stand for as teammates. I like what they stand for as human beings. I like how they treat each other, how they treat our support staff.

“I think we’ve got a lot of real good men that care about doing things the right way in there. We’ve intentionally not over-signed veterans to block our prospects. We did the same thing last year. We do believe we can win and play young kids. It’s hard to do in this league, but we believe we can do it.”

The Utica Comets got busy on Friday and were a part of three deals to prepare for the final five weeks of the regular season.

Hours before the Comets hosted Belleville, the parent New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators worked out a trade that sent B-Sens forward Jayce Hawryluk to the Comets. The 2014 second-round draft pick had eight points (three goals, five assists) in 19 games with Belleville.

In a related deal, Utica sent defenseman Dylan Blujus to Belleville for future considerations; Blujus, a ninth-year AHL veteran, had a goal and five points in 19 games for Utica.

With Hawryluk’s arrival, New Jersey also sent Comets forward Jack Dugan to Carolina for defenseman Zack Hayes.

For the 23-year-old Hayes, this is his second trade this season. He began the season in Henderson before being acquired by the Hurricanes on Nov. 30. In 28 AHL games between the Silver Knights and Chicago Wolves, he picked up a pair of goals to go with two assists. Dugan, 24, had compiled 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 51 games with the Comets after signing with New Jersey in the offseason.

The Comets then went out and pulled out a 4-3 overtime victory over Belleville, with Alexander Holtz netting the game-winner. Utica sits second in the North Division going into tonight’s road date with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.