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Sabres Central

The Amerks surge past Bulldogs, now ready to tackle the Bears
By Rick Anderson
May 6, 2000

The Rochester Americans beat the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday night 3-0 in Hamilton's Copps Coliseum and now advance to the third round against the Hershey Bears. It was fitting that Rochester finished the series by shutting out its opponent. It was the third shutout of Hamilton and the sixth in the two playoff rounds the Amerks have played in. Mika Noronen, the Amerks' rookie goaltender, has been in the nets for all 11 of Rochester's playoff games and broke a 53-year old AHL record for shutouts in a playoff year.

J.P. Dumont does a dance after scoring his first goal of a two-goal night against Joaquin Gage in the series clincher over the Hamilton Bulldogs.
[Rochester D & C Photo]

J.P. Dumont got the Amerks going in the first period by scoring 2 goals and from there, the Americans were able to close the door on the Bulldogs. Joe Murphy got the other Rochester goal in the third period to seal the Bulldog's fate. Rochester won the second round series 4 games to 2.

It was last Sunday in Hamilton that the Americans tied the AHL record for shutouts with 5 when they beat the Bulldogs by an identical score of 3-0. In this game, the Amerks played even better.

"The one thing about the playoffs is that you get in a rhythm, you get accustomed to playing every other day, so, no, I don't mind starting right away," said Rochester coach Brian McCutcheon. "Maybe we had too many days off the last time."

After allowing themselves to get into a shootout in Game 5 in Rochester when Hamilton beat them 6-5, the Amerks decided it was time to get back to their old forechecking, tight defensive ways again.

"We had a little heart to heart talk and a lot of it was just a reminder," said McCutcheon. "The guys know, but it's also my responsibility to make sure they know."

The Bulldogs actually had more chances in the beginning of the game as they blistered Noronen with a lot of rubber. The AHL rookie of the year made three huge stops and also had the help of his exterior equipment, the goal posts, on two other occasions.

Dumont, the "other player" involved in the Gilmour for Grosek trade, showed that he can produce some offense when needed. He teamed with Domenic Pittis on both Rochester goals in the first stanza.

Pittis sent Dumont a pass from the right circle and Dumont skated around Brian Swanson and managed to slip the puck through Swanson's skates. By doing that, Dumont was able to get in alone on Joaquin Gage and he set his shot into the top left corner to actually get the game winner at 11:54 of the first period.

Said the goalie at the other end Noronen) about the goal, "Maybe some goalie could have stopped it with luck, but I don't know"

Pittis, who spent some time with the Sabres this year said, "There's a reason J.P. was the fourth overall pick (in the 1997 entry draft). He has the ability to score those types of goals. He makes an unbelievable move and he makes it look easy at that."

"It feels good when we got the lead, it gave us some wings and everybody started flying after that," said Dumont.

At 17:18 of the same period, it was Pittis again who set up the goal. This time he sent a pass through the crease and Dumont was there to send it in. The goal was during a Rochester power play.

"They're a very good team and I think we really gave them a scare," remarked Bulldogs' captain Rob Murray. "I think that's something we can really be proud of. But they play a strict trap and when they're up 2-0 it's almost impossible."

That's exactly what they did throughout the second period. The Bulldogs could not penetrate the neutral zone too often and, just like they did last Sunday in Hamilton, the Amerks get comfortable with a two-goal lead and seem to play games with their opponents, getting them frustrated.

The score stayed 2-0 throughout the first half of the third period and then with 7:41 left in the contest, old pro Joe Murphy notched his third goal of this season's playoffs. He stole Ryan Risidore's pass and got his shot through a screen of players past Gage. Murphy, who was added to the Rochester roster in January from the East Coast League, used his experience to help lift the Amerks in this one. A solid two-way player, Murphy will be invaluable in the remaining playoff series.

The Bulldogs coach, Walt Kyle was impressed with the Amerks during the series. "I've always said this and I'll always say this, at the end of a playoff series, the best team wins," Kyle said. "They were the best team."

The Americans begin their third round action tomorrow night in Rochester's Blue Cross Arena against the Hershey Bears.

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