TONIGHT’S GAME: After ringing in the New Year on the west coast, the Rochester Americans return home to The Blue Cross Arena tonight as the Amerks welcome the first-place Syracuse Crunch back to the Flower City. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the third of eight scheduled meetings between the intrastate rivals this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: DON STEVENS WITH CHADD CASSIDY
2012-13 AHL STANDINGS
2012-13 ROCHESTER STATS
2012-13 SYRACUSE STATS
WEDNESDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST
Last Game: Rochester at Abbotsford – 1/5/13
Rochester (1) at Abbotsford (3)
Goalie(s): Leggio (28 saves/31 shots, 57:46)
Special Teams: PP: 0/4 --- PK: 3/3
Shots: Abbotsford 31 --- Rochester 18
PIM: Abbotsford 10 --- Rochester 8
3 Stars: 1. Street (ABB), 2. Brodie (ABB), 3. Callahan (ABB)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Tonight’s matchup kicks off a stretch in which the teams will face-off three times in a span of five games and marks the first get-together in nearly two months since Rochester skated to a 5-2 win over the Crunch in the teams’ most recent encounter back on Nov. 10 in Syracuse. The line of Marcus Foligno (1+2), Evan Rankin (1+1) and Brian Flynn (1+1) combined for seven points on the night while Nick Tarnasky and T.J. Brennan scored to help Rochester improve to 2-0-0-0 on the season versus Syracuse. The Amerks are 5-1-0-0 in their last six games against the Crunch dating back to last season, a streak that has produced a win for Rochester in each of the last four meetings between the in-state foes.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (17-13-2-1, 37 points) enters the contest after splitting a two-game road set with the Abbotsford Heat over the weekend that saw the Amerks earn a 5-2 win on Friday before dropping a 3-1 decision to the Heat the following night. Veteran forward Mark Mancari finished the weekend with a team-high three points (1+2), while goaltender David Leggio combined for 76 saves in back-to-back starts, including stopping a season-high 48 shots in Friday’s victory. With an assist in Friday’s win, Brennan, playing in just his 32nd game of the campaign, became the first Amerk this season to reach the 30-point mark before adding another helper in Saturday’s rematch to surpass the season total he set last year in 52 games with Rochester. Brennan, who shows 13 points (3+10) over his last 11 games, ranks third among AHL defensemen in scoring with a team-high 31 points (12+19), good enough for 15th overall among the league’s top point-getters. Brennan also enters play tonight leading all rearguards in shots (124) and shorthanded goals (2), while his six power-play goals place him second in that category. Additionally, the fourth-year blueliner ranks second among league defensemen with a team-best 12 goals and needs another six tallies to tie the franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a single-season. Leggio, who’s won four of his last six starts, leads all AHL netminders in saves (825) and ranks second in wins (16) and minutes played (1641:34) entering play tonight.
SYRACUSE NOTES: Syracuse (22-7-2-3, 49 points), wrapping up a four-game road swing tonight, comes into the matchup as the top team in the AHL after assembling what has proven to be their best start in franchise history. Coming off their two-game sweep of the defending Calder Cup champion Norfolk Admirals over the weekend, including a 22-save shutout from goaltender Dustin Tokarski in Friday’s 3-0 win, the Crunch have won three straight and five of their last six games to spring atop the league standings. Guided by reigning AHL Coach of the Year Jon Cooper, Syracuse currently leads the league in wins (22) and goals scored (122), while boasting the AHL’s best winning percentage (.721). Additionally, the Crunch, whose seven regulation losses are presently a league-low, have picked up 32 of their league-best 49 points away from Central New York, making them the AHL’s best road team with a 15-3-0-2 record. Syracuse’s well-balanced offense is piloted by second-year pro Tyler Johnson, whose 20 goals and 35 points place him second and fourth among the AHL’s top scorers, respectively. A Calder Cup winner with Norfolk in 2011-12, Johnson also ranks tied for fifth in the AHL with seven power-play goals and shows a team-best plus-16 on-ice rating while appearing in all but one game for Syracuse this season.
UP NEXT: The Amerks remain at home Friday, Jan. 11 as they host the North Division rival Hamilton Bulldogs on Men’s Health Night at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- With 26 goals through their last eight games, the Amerks are currently fourth in the AHL in goals for with 111, 11 shy of Syracuse’s league-leading 122 tallies. Rochester is currently averaging 3.36 goals-per-game, the third-most league among opponents.
- Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last 11 games as the Amerks have converted on 12 of their last 41 man-advantage opportunities, including twice in their 5-2 win over Abbotsford on Friday. The Amerks are tied for fourth in the league with 32 power-play goals and own the second-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 21.6% efficiency rate. More impressively, Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 21 of the first 33 games this season.
- After recording an assist in each of his last two games, Brennan remains Rochester’s top point-getter and ranks third in scoring among AHL defensemen with 31 points (12+19), while his team-leading 12 goals are also second-most among league rearguards. Additionally, six of Brennan’s 12 tallies have come on the power-play, tying him for 11th among league leaders. Brennan is also second in the AHL with 124 shots on goal and is one of just two defensemen to lead his respective team in scoring.
- Fresh off a three-game point streak (1+2), Brian Flynn enters the contest ranked 11th among AHL rookies with 22 points (10+12) in 30 games. The Amerks are 6-1-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
- Leggio, who’s won four of his last six starts, leads all AHL netminders in saves (825) and ranks second in wins (16) and minutes played (1641:34). 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.
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 on Dec. 26 against 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 15 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 9-6-1-1 (20 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 21 of the first 33 games of the campaign and show an 14-5-2-0 record when doing so, including a 9-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 12-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 8-0-0-0 mark at home. The Amerks are averaging 30.88 shots per game, the 12th-highest output among league opponents.
Mancari enters the contest with 14 points (5+9) over his last 11 games, a stretch that also featured a season-long five-game point streak from 12/19 to 12/28… More impressively, Mancari has posted five games with multiple points during the same stretch, including his three-point outing (1+2) at Abbotsford this past Friday… McNabb shows four assists over his last six games after compiling consecutive two-assist efforts against Lake Erie before the turn of the New Year… Despite seeing his three-game point streak come to an end, Flynn has five points (1+5) through his last six games and shows 21 points (9+12) in his last 23 games… Additionally, the first-year pro hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… Cody Hodgson has registered 10 points (4+6) over his last nine games, a stretch that includes back-to-back two-goal games… Brennan shows 13 points (3+10) over his last 11 games, including points in four straight appearances from 12/13 to 12/21… Rankin has notched 17 points (9+8) over his last 24 games, including three goals in his last eight appearances, and has only been held scoreless just 11 times in 28 games this season… Porter, who also notched three points (1+2) in Friday’s win at Abbotsford, has tabbed 18 points (6+12) in his last 20 appearances, including 14 points (5+9) in his last 14 outings.
Joe Finley is just three games shy of 100 AHL games, while fellow defenseman Alex Biega is six games away from 100 as an Amerk… Mancari, who will celebrate his 250th game as an Amerk Friday night versus Hamilton, is eight goals away from 200 pro goals… Hodgson, meanwhile, is also nine points shy of 100 career points and Luke Adam needs another 11 points to reach the century mark for his AHL career… Porter recorded the 100th point of his AHL career with his first assist of the game at Abbotsford on 1/04… McNabb skated in his 100th professional game against Binghamton on 12/29… 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.
Business Persons Special – For any Sunday through Thursday game, fans who present their business cards at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office can purchase a $17 ticket for best-available lower level seating.
Eats & Seats – The Distillery “Eats & Seats” promotion returns for another season, where for just $20, fans can purchase one ticket (best-available) and a $10 gift card to The Distillery.