TONIGHT’S GAME: The second half of the 2012-13 American Hockey League season gets underway tonight as the Rochester Americans wrap up a four-game homestand against the second-place Toronto Marlies at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the sixth of 10 meetings between the North Division rivals this season will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The game will also be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: DON STEVENS WITH RON ROLSTON
2012-13 AHL STANDINGS 2012-13 NHL STANDINGS
2012-13 ROCHESTER STATS 2012-13 BUFFALO STATS
2012-13 TORONTO STATS 2012-13 TORONTO STATS
FRIDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST
Last Game: Rochester vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – 1/25/13
Rochester (4) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2)
Goals: Pysyk, Flynn, Pardy (GWG), Sundher
Goalie(s): Leggio (23 saves/25 shots, 60:00)
Special Teams: PP: 1/4 --- PK: 3/3
Shots: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 25 --- Rochester 22
PIM: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 8 --- Rochester 6
3 Stars: 1. Pysyk (RCH), 2. Mancari (RCH), 3. Pardy (RCH)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Toronto has claimed all five get-togethers with the Amerks thus far this season, including the most recent encounter between the longtime foes back on Dec. 15 in Rochester, where the Amerks came up short in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Marlies. Marcus Foligno scored the go-ahead goal for Rochester with 2:13 to play in regulation, but Toronto’s Matt Frattin would tie things up with just 10 seconds left to force overtime before going onto score the decisive goal in the shootout. More interesting, only three of the last 18 combined regular-season and playoff games between the Amerks and Marlies dating back to last season have not been decided by one goal, including the first two tilts of the 2012-13 campaign.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (22-15-2-1, 47 points) enters the contest in the midst of arguably its best stretch of the season after skating to a 4-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last Friday prior to the AHL All-Star break. The Amerks scored four goals in the second period, including three unanswered tallies late in the frame to overcome a 2-1 deficit and move within four points of first place in the AHL’s North Division standings. Mark Pysyk (1+1) and Mark Mancari (0+2) each posted two-point nights, while David Leggio stopped 23 of 25 shots he faced for Rochester, which has won three straight and five of its last six games. Leggio, who recently notched his third straight 20-win season and has started 13 straight games for the Amerks, leads all AHL netminders in wins (21), saves (1026) and minutes played (2061:30). With a goal in each of his last three games, including a power-play marker in last Friday’s win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, first-year forward Brian Flynn surpassed T.J. Brennan with a team-best 15 tallies and remains eighth in scoring among league rookies with 29 points (15+14) in 37 games.
Much of Rochester’s recent success can be attributed to its play at home, where the Amerks have captured 15 of their 22 wins this season and have outscored their opponents 79-63 in 23 games within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks, who have won four straight and eight of their last 10 games in their downtown hockey barn, are presently the AHL’s third-best team at home, while their 15 wins rank second to Binghamton’s league-best 16 wins on home ice.
TORONTO NOTES: Toronto (23-13-2-2, 50 points) comes into the matchup looking to break out of a skid that has seen the Marlies drop five of their last six games, including a 3-1 setback to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this past Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum. Former Sabres forward Tim Connolly, who was playing in just his third career AHL game, potted the lone goal for Toronto while goaltender Mark Owuya steered aside 30 saves in the losing effort. The new-look Marlies enter play tonight with a refurbished lineup after the departure of defenseman Mike Kostka and forwards Matt Frattin and Nazem Kadri to the parent Toronto Maple Leafs. The Marlies’ biggest loss, however, came with the exit of perennial AHL All-Star Keith Aucoin, who paced Toronto’s balanced offense with a team-high 37 points (10+27) prior to being claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders on Jan. 17. A veteran of 697 NHL games with the Sabres and Islanders, Connolly has made an immediate impact by a scoring a goal in each of his first three games with the Marlies. Toronto’s current active roster also features defenseman and Rochester native Ryan Grimshaw, who appeared in six games with the Amerks last season, including all three of Rochester’s first round playoff series against the Marlies. Despite presently being on recall with the Maple Leafs, Kostka continues to lead Toronto with 28 assists and 34 points, while team captain Ryan Hamilton, whose hat trick in the 2013 AHL All-Star Game earned him MVP honors, shows a team-high 18 goals in 38 games this season.
UP NEXT: The Amerks open a four-game road swing on Saturday, Feb. 2 as they travel to nearby Syracuse to take on the Crunch at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The 7:30 p.m. matchup will be the sixth of 10 meetings between the intrastate rivals this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- With 53 goals through their last 15 games, the Amerks are currently fourth in the league in goals for with 138, just three shy of Charlotte’s league-leading 141 tallies. Rochester is currently averaging 3.45 goals-per-game, the most among league opponents.
- Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last 18 games as the Amerks have converted on 19 of their last 70 man-advantage opportunities, including seven times over the last seven games. The Amerks are fourth in the league with 39 power-play goals and own the second-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 22.0% efficiency rate. More impressively, Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 27 of the first 40 games this season.
- Despite presently being on NHL recall with Buffalo, Brennan, who left the Amerks riding a five-game point streak (2+3), ranks second among AHL defensemen in goals (14) and points (35). Seven of his goals have come on the power-play, tying him for eighth in the league in that category. The special teams extraordinaire is also tied for fifth in the AHL with 12 power-play assists and leads all rearguards in power-play goals (7), shorthanded goals (2) and shots (132).
- Mancari, who will take over the Amerks’ lead in scoring with his next point, is first on the team and tied for 11th in the league with 24 assists.
- Flynn, who scored for the third straight game in last Friday’s win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, enters the contest eighth among AHL rookies with 29 points (15+14) in 37 games. The Amerks are 10-2-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
- Leggio, who’s won five of his last six starts, leads all AHL netminders in wins (21), saves (1026) and minutes played (2061:30). He also boasts the second-best shootout record (4-1) among goaltenders, having stopped 20 of 25 shooters 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 10 times this season, but are 5-4-1-0 in those games.
STARRY NIGHT IN PROVIDENCE
The American Hockey League’s annual All-Star break came to a close in dramatic fashion earlier this week as the Western Conference All-Stars earned a two-event sweep over their Eastern Conference counterparts at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic in Providence, Rhode Island. The two-day affair began as Brayden McNabb and Kevin Porter, each participating in their first-ever All-Star event, helped the West rally for a 12-11 win over the East in the All-Star Skills Competition. Down 6-1 after three of seven events, the Western Conference mounted an impressive comeback, beginning with McNabb becoming just the fifth AHL player ever to crack triple digits in the CCM Hardest Shot contest, winning the event with a blast of 101.8 miles per hour. The dramatics continued into Monday night highly anticipated All-Star Game, when Toronto Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton scored his third goal of the night with 11.2 seconds remaining in regulation to give the West a 7-6 win and a sweep of the two-day event for the second consecutive year.
A dozen different crowds of 7,500+ fans in attendance have taken in an Amerks game this season, including six in the Flower City’s downtown hockey barn. The number is a vast improvement from the 2011-12 season, when only three crowds of 7,500 or more were on hand. Rochester is currently eighth in the AHL in total attendance to date and is averaging 6,653 fans per game through the first 23 home games of the 2012-13 campaign.
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 at Syracuse on Jan. 12, 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. After officially reaching the halfway point with a pair of shorthanded tallies against the Albany Devils on Nov. 23, Brennan is now within four goals of tying the mark and five away from setting a new record. The fourth-year pro fell just two short of the record last season, scoring 16 goals in only 52 games with the Amerks.
MAKE THAT THREE STRAIGHT FOR LEGGIO
Leggio recorded his 20th win of the season with a 21-save effort in Rochester’s 6-3 victory over Hamilton on Jan. 21, solidifying the fifth-year netminder’s third consecutive 20-win season. Leggio began the impressive streak with 22 wins during the 2010-11 campaign with Portland before posting a career-high 28 victories last season with Rochester, including 13 over the team’s final 23 games, to help the Amerks clinch a berth in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs.
HOME, SWEET HOME
With half of the season already in the books, home-ice advantage has certainly been beneficial for the Amerks. Coming off their win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last Friday, the Amerks have now won four straight and eight of their last 10 games played within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks boast a 15-7-0-1 record in their downtown venue, making them the third-best home team in the AHL, while their 15 wins rank second to only the Binghamton Senators, who show a league-best 16 wins on home-ice.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks are 11-6-1-1 (24 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show an 11-9-1-0 (23 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 24 of the first 40 games of the campaign and show a 17-5-2-0 record when doing so, including an 11-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 17-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 12-0-0-0 mark at home. The Amerks are averaging 30.70 shots per game, the 13th-highest output among opponents.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
The Amerks have seen eight of their last 22 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.
2012 IN REVIEW
Several Amerks players finished atop the AHL’s regular-season scoring leaders during the 2012 calendar year, including Brennan and McNabb, who each 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.
Six different Amerks carry three-game point streaks into play tonight… Biega has recorded an assist in each of his last three games and shows six assists in as many games… Flynn, who has netted a goal in three straight games and five of his last seven, has collected 12 points (6+6) through his last 13 games and hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… Porter, meanwhile, has 22 points (7+15) over his last 21 outings, including four points (1+3) in his last three, and has been held scoreless just twice in his last 10 showings… Evan Rankin has three points (1+2) in as many games, and more impressively, has only been held scoreless just 13 times in 35 games this season… Mancari enters the matchup with 22 points (8+14) over his last 18 games, a stretch that also featured a season-long five-game point streak from 12/19 to 12/28… More impressively, Mancari has posted seven games with multiple points during the same stretch, including back-to-back his two-assist efforts… Rookie forward Kevin Sundher is in the midst of his first career point streak, recording a point in each of his last three games, including goals in consecutive games for the first time this season… Veteran defenseman Adam Pardy, whose first goal as an Amerk proved to be the game-winner last Friday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, has two points (1+1) through his first three games since joining the team on 1/18, while Luke Adam, fresh off his five-game point streak, enters the contest with seven points (2+5) in his last seven games and has four assists through his last six appearances.
Four days after registering his first point as an Amerk with an assist in Rochester’s win over Hamilton on 1/21, Pardy netted his first goal in the red, white and blue against the Baby Pens last Friday… The veteran defenseman is also 12 games shy of 400 pro appearances… Adam is just five points away from reaching the century mark for his AHL career… Mancari is a mere five goals away from 200 pro goals, while Leggio needs another five games to reach 200 career pro tilts… Porter recorded the 100th point of his AHL career with his first assist of the game at Abbotsford on 1/04.
Tim Hortons Discount Night – Tonight’s game falls on the second installment of the Tim Hortons Discount Nights. Special Amerks coupons are available at 35 participating Tim Hortons locations in the Rochester area, and can be redeemed for a $5 discount on any 100 Level Premium or 100 Level End seat to select Amerks home games. The offer is valid for the Amerks home games on Jan. 25, Feb. 1, Feb. 15, Feb. 17, Feb. 20, Feb. 26, Mar. 8, Mar. 10, Mar. 13 and Mar. 15. The coupons can only be redeemed at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office, by calling 1-855-GO-AMERKS or online at www.amerks.com by using Promo Code: TIM. There is a maximum purchase of eight tickets per coupon redeemed. The offer is based upon availability and cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions.
The YellowJackets - The Univeristy of Rochester's YellowJackets, a singing group that appeared on NBC's "The Sing Off" last fall, will sing the National Anthems prior to the game.
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.
Hockey Night in Rochester – Friday nights are Hockey Night in Rochester, and fans who wear an Amerks or Sabres jersey to a Friday game can purchase a best-available seat for just $17.
Ditch the Dorms – Ditch the Dorms Nights are back this season again on Fridays, where students who present their College ID at The Blue cross Arena Box Office can purchase a best available ticket for just $12.
Amerks Happy Hour – Prior to every Friday night home game this season, there will be an Amerks Happy Hour from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Upper Atrium Bar featuring live music and $2 Molson and Coors Light drafts for fans age 21 and over.