American Hockey League scoring leader Carter Verhaeghe continued to be a nemesis for the Rochester Americans Saturday night.
The 23-year-old Syracuse Crunch center from Toronto scored the tie-breaking goal with 3:21 left in the third period in a 4-3 victory over the Amerks to clinch a second AHL North Division championship in the last three years for his team.
Syracuse (47-21-7) increased its lead over second-place Rochester (45-23-7) to four points with each team having one game left to play on Sunday, the final day of the AHL regular season.
Verhaeghe’s goal was his fifth this season in 12 games against Rochester. He has 13 of his league-high 81 points against the Amerks.
Victor Olofsson scored twice for the Amerks, giving him 30 for the season. He had been tied with C.J. Smith with 28 goals each. Olofsson is the Rochester team leader in points with 33 assists and 63 points. He became the first Rochester player to scored 30 goals in a season since Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both did in the 2004-05 season.
Olofsson scored the only power-play goal of the game with Danny O’Regan getting his 28th assist fir a 1-0 Rochester lead at 9:39 of the opening period. Syracuse tied it less than a minute later, however, when Taylor Raddysh scored at 10:26.
The next goal didn’t come until Mitchell Stephens gave the Crung the lead at 2:30 of the third. It took only 17 seconds for Olofsson to tie it wityh assits from Rasmus Asplund, his 31st, and Ken Gosselin.
Verhaeghe struck for the go-ahead tally at 16:39 and Gabriel Dumont scored into an empty net with 1:54 left, making it 4-2.
Smith scored his second of the season for Rochester with 17 seconds left. Yannick Veillieux and Eric Cornel assisted.
Scott Wedgewood had 28 saves for Rochester. Eddie Pasquale had 23 stops in goal for Syracuse.
The Amerks and Crunch each won six games in their season series. They were 4-4 in regulation play, 1-1 in overtime decisions and 1-1 in shootouts. Rochester won four of the six game at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena in Syracuse.
Rochester will play at Belleville (Ont.) in its final regular season game Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Amerks will be the No. 2 seed in the North Division bracket of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs and be home to third-place Toronto to open the best-of-five first round this week. Syracuse will be paired against Belleville or Cleveland in the first round.