ROCHESTER – Almost four years to the day from their last home playoff game, the Amerks will again take the ice in Rochester. They're not in the ideal situation.
It's do-or-die for the Buffalo Sabres' affiliate. Rochester enters Wednesday's game against Syracuse in a 2-0 hole in their best-of-five series. A victory forces Game Four on Friday in Rochester. A loss starts the summer.
"I like our chances," captain Kevin Porter said after the morning skate in BlueCross Arena. "We're at home. We're going to take it one game at a time. Let's win this one and then we'll move on from there."
Porter knows teams can rally from 2-0 deficits. While playing for Grand Rapids in 2014-15, the Griffins fell into the identical first-round hole against the Toronto Marlies. They won three straight and advanced to the conference final.
"The series can change really quickly," said Amerks defenseman Nathan Paetsch, who was also on the Grand Rapids squad. "We've played some good hockey. We know we can score. We put up a lot of goals. We've just got to tighten up defensively. We know we have a chance, and we're excited to play in front of our home fans."
The Amerks, who missed the playoffs the previous three seasons, haven't hosted a postseason game since April 26, 2014. They beat the Chicago Wolves, 3-2, but lost the series, 3-2.
"It's been a few years since there's been playoff hockey here," Paetsch said, "so we're hoping to have this place rocking tonight, and it'll definitely help the boys."
Paetsch will make his series debut after watching the opening two games. Defenseman Casey Nelson will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Andrew MacWilliam has been suspended three games after a post-period scrum in Game Two.
Right wing Hudson Fasching, who was scratched in Game Two, did extra skating in the morning and is expected to sit again.
The game starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $16 to $28 at the arena box office or Ticketmaster.com. Radio coverage is at 95.7 FM and 950 AM. There is no television feed, though it can be watched through a subscription to AHL Live.
The Amerks lost the opener, 6-2, and dropped the second game, 6-5. They came home following Saturday's loss and have had time to reset.
"To get back home and sleep in your own bed and kind of relax a little bit, put those games behind us and get ready for this game was huge," Porter said.