Rochester Americans
Rochester Americans vs. Abbotsford Heat
Abbotsford Heat
January 04, 2013 - 10:00 PM
TV:  | RADIO: Sports 1280 WHTK

AMERKS OPEN 2013 IN ABBOTSFORD FOR BACK-TO-BACK MEETINGS WITH HEAT

TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rochester Americans open the 2013 calendar year tonight as they travel west to Abbotsford for the first of back-to-back tilts with the Heat at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The 10:00 p.m. EST contest will be the third of eight scheduled meetings between the North Division rivals this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.


AMERKS FAN GUIDE

2012-13 AHL STANDINGS
2012-13 ROCHESTER STATS
2012-13 ABBOTSFORD STATS

Last Game: Rochester vs. Hamilton – 12/31/12
Rochester (2) vs. Hamilton (0)
Goals: Rankin (GWG), Mancari
Goalie(s): Leggio (34 saves/34 shots, 59:53)
Special Teams: PP: 1/4 --- PK: 6/6
Shots: Hamilton 34 --- Rochester 26
PIM: Rochester 19 --- Hamilton 15
3 Stars: 1. Leggio (RCH), 2. Porter (RCH), 3. Mancari (RCH)

HEAD-TO-HEAD: After dropping the first game of the season series, Rochester evened things by virtue of a 3-2 shootout win over the Heat in the teams’ most recent get-together back on Dec. 11 at The Blue Cross Arena. Frederick Roy and Luke Adam each scored in a regulation for the Amerks while David Leggio made 29 saves before stopping all six Abbotsford shooters in the skills competition to give the Amerks the win. Starting tonight, Rochester will play its next four games against the Heat in Abbotsford, with a rematch on tap for Saturday before returning for another go-around on February 5 and 6 later this season. Abbotsford has claimed three out of possible four points in the two games with Rochester, both of which were one-goal decisions. Former Buffalo Sabres draft pick Paul Byron has recorded a goal in each game against the Amerks, including the game-winner in Abbotsford’s 3-2 win in Rochester on Nov. 16.

AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (16-12-2-1, 35 points) enters the contest fresh off its 2-0 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in a New Year’s Eve matinee Monday afternoon at The Blue Cross Arena. Leggio was stellar in net, turning aside all 34 shots en route to his first shutout of the season, while Evan Rankin and Mark Mancari each tallied goals for the Amerks. Kevin Porter also notched two assists, helping Rochester improve to 4-1-0-0 against Hamilton. With three wins in their last four games, and a 6-3-0-1 mark through their last 10, the Amerks moved into a third-place tie with the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings, only four points behind the second-place Heat.  T.J. Brennan, who shows 11 points (3+8) over his last nine games, ranks third among AHL defensemen in scoring with a team-high 29 points (12+17) in 31 games, good enough for 13th overall among the league’s top point-getters. Brennan also enters play tonight leading all rearguards in power-play goals (6), shorthanded goals (2) and shots (122). Additionally, the fourth-year blueliner ranks second among defensemen with a team-best 12 goals and needs another six goals to tie the franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a single-season. Leggio, who’s won three of his last four games, leads all AHL netminders in saves (749) and ranks second in wins (15) and minutes played (1523:48).

ABBOTSFORD NOTES: Abbotsford (16-9-3-4, 39 points), kicking off a season-long eight-game homestand tonight, comes into the matchup after wrapping up a six-game Midwest Division road swing that saw the team earn just one win and three out of a possible 12 points. Abbotsford’s latest setback came in the form of a 2-1 shootout loss to the Peoria Rivermen on New Year’s Eve, giving the Heat just three wins over their final 10 games of 2012. Despite the defeat, however, the Heat’s nine regulation losses are still the third-fewest in the AHL. Abbotsford also owns the best goaltender in the league in seven-year pro Barry Brust, who leads the league with an impressive 1.36 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. Earlier this season, Brust set the new AHL record for the longest shutout streak at 268:17, surpassing the longstanding mark of 249:51 established by Hall of Fame goaltender Johnny Bower. In just 14 games with the Heat this season, Brust is 8-4-2 with three shutouts and has made 361 saves on 380 shots. Abbotsford’s well-balanced scoring attack is led by forward Ben Street, who paces the Heat with a team-high 22 points (7+15) in 32 games. Roman Horak ranks 10th in the AHL with 14 goals and is one of just four players to appear in all 32 games thus far this season. Operating at an 89.6% success rate, the Heat presently have the top penalty kill in the league, having only allowed a league-low 13 power-play goals in 125 shorthanded situations.

UP NEXT: The same two teams meet again in the back-end of the two-game weekend set on Saturday, Jan. 5 at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Game time is slated for 10:00 p.m. EST and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.


AMERKS QUICK HITS

  • With 21 goals through their last six games, the Amerks are currently fifth in the AHL in goals for with 105, 10 shy of Syracuse’s league-leading 115 tallies. Rochester is currently averaging 3.39 goals-per-game, the third-most league opponents, and is one of just eight teams to breach the 100-goal plateau.
  • Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last nine games as the Amerks have converted on 10 of their last 34 man-advantage opportunities, including three in its last three games. The Amerks are tied for fourth in the league with 30 power-play goals and own the second-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 21.3% efficiency rate. More impressively, Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 20 of the first 31 games this season.
  • Fresh off his five-point outing on against Lake Erie on Dec. 26, Brennan leapfrogged Foligno for the team lead in scoring and third among AHL defensemen with 29 points (12+17), while his team-leading 12 goals are second-most among league rearguards. Additionally, six of Brennan’s 12 tallies have come on the power-play, tying him for sixth among league leaders. Brennan is also second in the AHL with 122 shots on goal and is one of just two defensemen to lead his respective team in scoring.
  • Brian Flynn enters the contest ranked 11th among AHL rookies with 21 points (9+12) in 28 games after collecting an assist in each of his last two games. The Amerks are 5-1-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
  • Leggio, who’s won three of his last four games, leads all AHL netminders in saves (749) and ranks second in wins (15) and minutes played (1523:48). He also boasts the best shootout record (4-1) among goaltenders, having stopped 20 of 25 shooters, including four in Rochester’s 6-5 win over Binghamton on Dec. 21, for a .800 save percentage. The native of Williamsville, NY, is 15-3 all-time in AHL shootouts and has won eight of his last 10.
  • The Amerks have allowed at least five goals in a game eight times this season, but are 5-2-1-0 in those games.


BRENNAN HONORED AS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The American Hockey League announced earlier this week that Brennan was selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Dec. 30, 2012. In three games on the week, Brennan recorded one goal and five assists for six points for the Amerks. On Wednesday, Dec. 26, Brennan had five points (1+4) in a wild 7-6 overtime victory over Lake Erie, tying an AHL season high and establishing a new personal best. All four of Brennan’s assists on the night came on game-tying goals, erasing deficits of 1-0, 2-1, 5-4 and 6-5. He also scored a power-play goal in the first period, his third point of that stanza. On Friday, Dec. 28, Brennan registered another assist to help Rochester to a 4-1 win over Lake Erie in Buffalo, and on Saturday, Dec. 29, he took a game-high six shots on goal in the Amerks’ 2-1 loss to Binghamton.

2012 IN REVIEW
Several Amerks players finished atop the AHL’s regular-season scoring leaders during the 2012 calendar year, including defensemen T.J. Brennan and Brayden McNabb, who finished sixth and 10th in scoring among league blueliners with 44 points (22+22) and 37 points (6+31), respectively. Leggio, who played in a combined 62 games for the Amerks in 2012, including the final 23 of the 2011-12 season, led all netminders with 34 wins while totaling three shutouts throughout the year.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Rochester set a new franchise attendance record by playing in front of a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans on Friday, Dec. 28 against Lake Erie at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. The record-setting attendance also represented the eighth-largest crowd for a single game in American Hockey League history and the fourth-largest for an AHL game played indoors. The previous Amerks record for the largest crowd in the 57-year history of the franchise was 17,898, which was set eight years prior to the day on Dec. 28, 2004, when the Amerks defeated the Edmonton Roadrunners at the then-HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

BRENNAN GETTING CLOSER
With his power-play goal last Wednesday vs. Lake Erie, Brennan is on pace to break Rick Pagnutti’s 40-year-old franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a single-season. Pagnutti set the mark during the 1972-73 campaign, his first in Rochester, when he netted 18 goals en route to a 55-point season, which led all Amerks defensemen and placed him third on the team in overall scoring. Brennan officially reached the halfway point with a pair of shorthanded tallies against the Albany Devils on Nov. 23 and has since added three more to become the first Amerk this season to reach double digits in just 31 games. The fourth-year pro fell just two short of the record last season, scoring 16 goals in only 52 games with the Amerks.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
The Amerks have seen eight of their last 13 games decided by one goal dating back to a 4-3 setback at Toronto on Dec. 8. Rochester is 8-6-1-1 in 16 one-goal games this season after finishing the 2011-12 campaign with 42 such outings. Of those 16 one-goal games, seven have been determined in overtime or via the shootout, for a 5-0-1-1 mark.

BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks are 8-5-1-1 (18 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show an 8-7-1-0 (17 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 19 of the first 31 games of the campaign and show an 13-4-2-0 record when doing so, including a 9-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 11-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 8-0-0-0 mark at home. The Amerks are averaging 31.32 shots per game, the 10th-highest output among league opponents.

WHO’S HOT
Marcus Foligno saw his three-game point streak of two goals and one assist snapped in Monday’s win over Hamilton… Mancari enters the contest with 11 points (4+7) over his last nine games, a stretch that also featured a five-game point streak from 12/19 to 12/28… More impressively, Mancari has posted four games with multiple points during the same stretch, including back-to-back two-point outings as part of a two-game set with Lake Erie at the end of December… McNabb shows four assists in as many games after compiling consecutive two-assist efforts against the Monsters last week… Flynn has also recorded four assists through his last four games and shows 20 points (8+12) in his last 21 games after being held pointless in six of his first seven outings to begin the campaign… Additionally, the first-year pro hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… Despite being held scoreless in his last two games, Cody Hodgson has registered nine points (4+5) over his last seven games, including back-to-back two-goal games versus Lake Erie last week… Brennan shows 11 points (3+8) over his last nine games, including points in four straight games from 12/13 to 12/21… Fresh off scoring the game-winning goal against Hamilton on Monday, Evan Rankin has notched 17 points (9+8) over his last 22 games, including three goals in his last six appearances, and has only been held scoreless just nine times in 26 games this season… Porter, who assisted on both Rochester’s goals in a 2-0 win over the Bulldogs on Monday, has tabbed 15 points (5+10) in his last 18 appearances, including 11 points (4+7) in his last 12 outings.

MILESTONE WATCH
Porter needs just one more point to eclipse the 100-point mark of his AHL career… Joe Finley is just five games shy of 100 AHL games, while fellow defenseman Alex Biega is eight games away from 100 as an Amerk… Mancari, who will celebrate his 250th game as an Amerk on Jan. 11 vs. Hamilton, is nine goals away from 200 pro goals… Hodgson, meanwhile, is also 10 points shy of 100 career points… McNabb skated in his 100th professional game against Binghamton this past Saturday… Foligno and Phil Varone each skated in their 100th pro game against Binghamton on 12/21… Leggio earned his 100th professional win with a 33-save effort at Lake Erie on 12/13… Rookie goaltender Connor Knapp earned his first career win, stopping 41 of 42 shots against Adirondack on 12/07.