The Toronto Marlies got off to a quick start Saturday with a 1-0 lead just 42 seconds into play, but it was the Rochester Americans who got the last laugh by completing an improbable comeback with 43 seconds remaining to claim a key 4-3 road victory.
Despite a strong second-period effort, the Amerks trailed the Marlies 3-0 entering the final frame. It was all Amerks from there, as Tim Schaller capped a natural hat trick in a span of 14:59 with a mark in the game's final minute, and Phil Varone sent a rocket into the upper right corner seconds later to shock the division rival.
Schaller, who entered the afternoon with four goals in his first 65 outings, secured the first multiple-point game of his professional career to earn the game's number one star. Veteran forward Brayden Irwin assisted on all four of the Amerks' goals.
Mikhail Grigorenko rang up two assists to give him four points in three AHL contests, while Joel Armia contributed a team-high seven shots on goal. Andrey Makarov started his third game in four days, making just 13 stops to pick up his third straight win.
The victory vaults the Amerks into the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff race with six games left to play. The two clubs will play a rematch Friday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
In the WHL, Logan Nelson was kept off the score sheet as Victoria was defeated by Portland 6-3 in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal. The Royals trail the Winterhawks 2-0 with the series heading to Victoria for a pair of games on Monday and Tuesday.
William Carrier missed his fifth game with a lower body injury as Drummondville was defeated by Val-d'Or 4-3 in overtime. The teams split the first two games of the QMJHL quarterfinal series. We'll keep an eye on Carrier's status heading into Tuesday's Game 3.
In the final night of USHL action, Connor Hurley saw his five-game point streak end as Green Bay edged Muskegon 4-3 to claim the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The 18-year old pivot completed his rookie campaign with an even 50 points (13+37) in 56 games. The Gamblers will face Indiana in the opening round beginning next weekend.
Judd Peterson posted one shot on goal as Cedar Rapids closed the regular season with a 3-2 shootout loss to Waterloo. The St. Cloud State commit scored 16 goals in 47 games for the RoughRiders, who draw an opening round matchup with Dubuque.
Cal Petersen was given the night off for the Black Hawks, who earned the Anderson Cup as the league's regular season champion. Petersen completed the schedule tied for the league lead with 27 wins, while posting a 2.50 GAA (6th) and .915 save% (8th). Waterloo will kick off the postseason with a first round series against Sioux Falls.