TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rochester Americans take aim at their third straight win tonight as the Albany Devils journey west for their final appearance at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be just the second of four meetings between the intrastate rivals this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The game will also be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel 98.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: CHADD CASSIDY WITH DON STEVENS
2012-13 AHL STANDINGS 2012-13 NHL STANDINGS
2013 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS PRIMER
ROCHESTER STATS BUFFALO STATS
ALBANY STATS NEW JERSEY STATS
FRIDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST
Last Game: Rochester vs. Binghamton – 3/13/13
Rochester (3) vs. Binghamton (1)
Goals: Ellis, Adam, Legault
Goalie(s): Leggio (18 saves/19 shots, 59:41)
Special Teams: PP: 0/3 --- PK: 4/4
Shots: Rochester 39 --- Binghamton 19
PIM: Rochester 8 --- Binghamton 6
3 Stars: 1. Adam (RCH), 2. Legault (RCH), 3.Ellis (RCH)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Tonight’s matchup also marks the first get-together in nearly four months for the two teams, who last met back on Nov. 23 in Rochester. Rookie forward Brian Flynn recorded his first hat trick and T.J. Brennan netted a pair of short-handed tallies to lead the Amerks to a 5-2 win and give Rochester the edge with a 5-4-0 advantage all-time against the Baby Devils. Rochester is also 3-0-0-0 at home against Albany dating back to last season, outscoring the Devils 12-4 over that span. After tonight’s game, the I-90 foes are idle until the Amerks make back-to-back trips to the Capital District to close out the season series in April.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (32-22-3-1, 68 points) enters the contest on the heels of a 3-1 win over the Binghamton Senators Wednesday night on home ice. Luke Adam finished with a team-high two points (1+1), including the game-winning goal, while veteran forward Matt Ellis found the back of the net for the third straight game as the Amerks won for the fifth time in the last six games and moved into fifth place in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference. Rochester, however, remains just two points back of the Toronto Marlies for the top spot in the all-too-close North Division standings. The Amerks are 5-0-1-0 since opening the month of March, and with points in six straight games, have the best record in the league in that span. Mark Mancari, who carries the AHL’s longest active point streak of seven games (3+7) into tonight’s contest, continues to lead the Amerks in all offensive categories in goals (18), assists (35) and points (53) and enters the matchup tied for fourth in scoring among the AHL’s top point-getters. The eight-year pro also ranks sixth among league leaders in assists, 17 of which have come on the power-play, good enough for third in the league in that category. His 210 shots on goal are also tops in the AHL. Amerks goaltender David Leggio, who has won five straight and 13 of his last 18 starts, continues to lead all AHL netminders in wins (31), saves (1513), minutes (2966:29) and shots against (1640), while ranking sixth with a .923 save percentage.
ALBANY NOTES: Albany (26-20-1-10, 63 points), kicking off a six-game road swing tonight, comes into the matchup the winners of two straight and four of its last five following a 3-2 shootout win over the Adirondack Phantoms this past Sunday at the Times Union Center. Joe Whitney and Mike Sislo both scored in regulation before Sislo added the game-winner in the first round of the skills competition. The Devils’ recent surge, which has seen them post a 6-1-0-1 mark over their last eight games, has the team just one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, trailing Connecticut for the final spot. Much of Albany’s recent success can also be attributed to its play on the road, where the Devils have claimed three of their last four games away from the Capital District and boast the AHL’s sixth-best road record with a 15-9-1-4 mark. In addition, the Devils are 10-0-0-0 this season when leading after two periods on the road and are 17-0-0-1 overall when having the advantage through 40 minutes. Albany comes to the Flower City fueled by second-year pro Joe Whitney, who paces the Devils offense with 21 goals and 39 points while appearing in just 47 games this season. Whitney also brings a four-game goal-scoring streak into play tonight, tying him with Norfolk’s Patrick Maroon for the longest in the AHL.
UP NEXT: The Amerks embark on their season-long five-game road swing on Saturday, March 16 as they head across the border for a North Division showdown with the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. Game time is slated for a 5:00 p.m. start with all the action being carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- With 20 goals through their last six games, including 14 in their last four, the Amerks are currently third in the AHL in goals for with 189, 16 shy of Syracuse’s league-leading 205 tallies. Rochester is also third in the league in goals-per-game, averaging 3.26.
- Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last 25 games as the Amerks have converted on 24 of their 110 man-advantage opportunities, including a season-high three times in their 5-0 win over Abbotsford last Friday. The Amerks currently lead the AHL with 56 power-play goals and have the second-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 21.7% efficiency rate. Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 40 of the first 58 games this season.
- With 10 points (3+7) through his last seven games, Mancari leads the Amerks in all offensive categories in goals (18), assists (35) and points (53) and enters the contest tied for fourth in scoring among the AHL’s top point-getters. Mancari also ranks sixth among league leaders in assists, 17 of which have come on the power-play, good enough for third in the AHL in that category. His 210 shots on goal are also tops in the AHL.
- Brayden McNabb ranks second and third among AHL defensemen in assists (31) and points (36), respectively, and has since set new career-highs in each category. McNabb also paces all blueliners with three short-handed assists. He recently surpassed the mark of T.J. Brennan, who continues to lead all rearguards in power-play goals (7) and short-handed goals (2) and ranks fifth in shots (132) despite currently being on NHL recall with the Buffalo Sabres.
- The duo of Mancari and Amerks captain Kevin Porter, who is also up with the big club, have combined for 28 multi-point outings between the two of them since the puck dropped in October. More impressively, the duo has also recorded at least one point in the same game in 23 of 58 outings this season, including eight different occasions where they have each posted multiple points in the same game. Rochester is 19-3-1-0 when Porter and Mancari register a point in the same game.
- Also presently on recall with the Sabres is rookie forward Brian Flynn, who enters the week ranked 15th in scoring among AHL rookies with 32 points (16+16) in 45 games. The Amerks are 11-2-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
- Leggio, who’s won five straight and 13 of his last 18 starts, continues to lead all AHL netminders in wins (31), saves (1513), minutes played (2966:29), shots faced (1640), while placing sixth with a .923 save percentage. He also boasts the second-best shootout record (5-1) among goaltenders, having stopped 27 of 35 shooters for a .771 save percentage. Leggio is 16-3 all-time in AHL shootouts and has won nine of his last 11.
- The Amerks have played the second-fewest games in the AHL with 58, which ties them with Toronto for the least among North Division opponents.
- The Amerks have allowed at least five goals in a game 11 times this season, but are 5-5-1-0 in those games.
ROLSTON MOVES UP TO NHL
The Buffalo Sabres promoted former Amerks head coach Ron Rolston to serve as their interim head coach for the remainder of the 2012-13 season. Rolston replaced Lindy Ruff, the all-time winningest coach in Sabres history and longest tenured coach in the NHL, who was relieved of his duties after 16 years behind the Buffalo bench. Rolston became the 16th coach in franchise history after compiling a 63-56-5 regular-season record over 1 ½ seasons with the Amerks, who he led to the Calder Cup Playoffs in just his first season as an American Hockey League coach. He officially made his NHL coaching debut in Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 21 at the Air Canada Centre and earned his first win in the Sabres’ 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26. Rolston is 4-4-2 since taking over for Ruff on Feb. 20.
CASSIDY APPOINTED HEAD COACH IN ROCHESTER
The exit of Rolston to Buffalo meant the elevation of Amerks assistant coach Chadd Cassidy as the new bench boss in Rochester. Cassidy, who previously worked alongside Rolston for five seasons at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, becomes the 30th head coach in Amerks history and the first to take over the position as a midseason replacement since John Van Boxmeer was appointed the title midway through the 1984-85 season when he took over for Jim Schoenfield. Cassidy made his American Hockey League head coaching debut in Rochester’s 5-1 loss to the Texas Stars on Feb. 20 and earned his first win in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Syracuse Crunch on March 2. Cassidy is 5-4-1-0 since his promotion to head coach and has guided the Amerks to a 5-0-1-0 start through the first six games of March.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
The end of the NHL lockout may have meant the departure of several key components to Rochester’s offense, but the recent flurry of roster moves has certainly been beneficial for the Amerks. Aside from the season-long mainstays in Mancari and Tarnasky, the latest additions of high-end forwards Patrick Rissmiller, Ellis and McCormick give the Amerks five active veterans in the lineup for the first time this season while providing stability and plenty of leadership. Along with established defenseman Adam Pardy, who was recently reassigned back to the Amerks after a recent NHL stint with the Sabres, Rochester’s veteran class has combined for over 1,200 man games in the NHL, including 329 from McCormick, and has totaled 96 points (38+58) for the Amerks in 2012-13.
MANCARI MAKING HIS MARK
The return to Rochester has been quite the homecoming for veteran forward Mark Mancari, who is in the midst of what could perhaps be his best season as an Amerk since joining the organization as a rookie for the 2005-06 campaign. Entering this year, the eight-year pro ranked 46th all-time in scoring amongst forwards in franchise history with 156 points (62+94) in 215 career games in the red, white and blue, but has since climbed to 25th on the list, surpassing some notable names like Dane Jackson, Scott Nichol, Jason Pominville and most recently, Norm Milley, along the way. Mancari added another personal milestone at Toronto on Feb. 27, scoring his 200th pro career goal and recording his 200th point as an Amerk. Mancari is also within four points of securing his third straight 57-point season after reaching the mark in each of his last two seasons (2006-08) with the Amerks.
LEGGIO’S CAREER YEAR LEADING THE WAY… AGAIN
A year after single-handedly guiding the Amerks into the postseason, Leggio is again having another big year between the pipes for Rochester and making a strong bid to repeat as team MVP. The 2012-13 campaign has already seen the fifth-year netminder capture his third straight 20-win season, but Leggio is coming off perhaps his finest weekend in his entire professional career. The Williamsville, NY, native was nearly flawless in a two-game sweep of the Abbotsford Heat, beginning with a 44-save shutout last Friday that produced his career-high 29th win of the season, besting the 28 victories he set a year ago with the Amerks. Leggio followed that up with another brilliant performance, stopping 35 shots in regulation before denying seven of 10 shooters in Sunday’s rematch against the Heat that garnered his first career 30-win season. He also became the first Amerks netminder to post 30 wins in a single season since Ryan Miller’s incredible 41 victories during Rochester’s historic 2004-05 campaign.
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.
HOME, SWEET HOME
With the AHL currently in its sixth month of the regular season, home-ice advantage has certainly been beneficial for the Amerks, who have won three straight and 12 of their last 18 games within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena, outscoring their opponents 99-83 in 31 total games. Rochester boasts a 19-11-0-1 record in their downtown venue, making them the eighth-best home team in the AHL. Conversely, Rochester is 13-11-3-0 on the road and has won four of its last seven games away from home.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks are 18-9-1-1 (38 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show a 14-13-2-0 (30 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 37 of the first 58 games of the campaign and show a 27-8-2-0 record when doing so, including a 15-3-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 27-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 16-0-0-0 mark at home.
Ellis has been Rochester’s most consistent performer as of late, scoring a goal in each of his last three games… Mancari enters the contest riding a season-long seven-game point streak (3+7), currently the longest active streak in the AHL, and has collected 40 points (15+25) over his last 36 games… The same stretch featured an additional five-game point streak from Dec. 19 to Dec. 28 and his first hat trick of the season against Toronto on Feb. 1… McNabb shows seven points (1+6) in his last six games, a stretch that saw the All-Star blueliner post back-to-back three-point outings… Flynn has collected 15 points (7+8) through his last 20 games and hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… He’s also currently in the midst of a three-game point streak with the Sabres, scoring two goals with one assist… Rissmiller, who is just 15 games into his Professional Tryout, has collected four assists over his last seven games and shows 12 points (2+10) and a pair of multi-point performances since re-joining the Amerks on Feb. 2… Porter, despite presently being on recall with Buffalo, has 31 points (10+21) over his last 29 outings, including 14 points (4+10) in his last 11, and has been held scoreless just six times in his last 16 showings… Despite being injured, Evan Rankin has four points (2+2) in his last five games, and more impressively, has only been held scoreless just 14 times in 37 games this season… Varone, who had a career-high four-point game (2+2) at Lake Erie on Feb. 12, shows four points (2+2) in his last six games, including the overtime game-winner at Syracuse on March 2… Rick Schofield has registered four assists over his last five games, while Maxime Legault shows four goals over that same span… Pardy, meanwhile, has collected three assists in his last four games and has totaled six points (1+5) through his first 12 games with the Amerks and Adam shows five (3+2) in as many games, including a pair of multi-point outings.
Ellis, who scored his first goal as an Amerk at Binghamton last Saturday, is a mere seven points shy of the 300-mark for his pro career and needs another two games to reach 700 pro appearances… Rankin needs another seven games to reach 300 for his pro career… Last Saturday’s game in Binghamton also marked the 100th as an Amerk for McNabb… Adam registered the 100th point of his AHL career with a goal at Lake Erie March 3… Flynn made his NHL debut in the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on March 2, earning 8:50 of ice time… The same game also represented the 400th professional appearance for Pardy… Mancari scored the 200th goal of his pro career and became the 30th player in franchise history to record 200 points with the Amerks at Toronto on Feb. 27… Porter made his Sabres debut in Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 21, finishing with four penalty minutes and 14:34 of ice time… Rookie goaltender Lieuwen made his American Hockey League debut against Hershey on Feb. 17, stopping 17 of 21 shots through a full 60 minutes between the pipes.
AMERKS POINTS OF INTEREST
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 ninth-largest crowd for a single game in American Hockey League history and the fifth-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.
More than a dozen different crowds of 7,500+ fans in attendance have taken in an Amerks game this season, including eight 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 10th in the AHL in total attendance to date and is averaging 6,355 fans per game through the first 31 home games of the 2012-13 campaign.
2013 ALL-STAR CLASSIC RECAP
Amerks defenseman Brayden McNabb became 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 as the Western Conference All-Stars earned a 12-11 win over their Eastern Conference counterparts in the 2013 AHL All-Star Skills Competition. McNabb also became just the second Amerk to top 100 miles per hour in the event, finishing behind current teammate Mark Mancari, whose blast of 102.8 during in 2008 is still an AHL record.
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.
Irish Night! - The Amerks will host Irish Night, presented by Molson, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day Friday against the Albany Devils. St. Patty’s Day Hat Trick ticket packages are on sale now. For just $40, fans ages 21 and over can purchase two lower level tickets to the Irish Night game, two beer vouchers and one New Era adjustable green Amerks hat. In addition, any fan that wears green to the Irish Night game on March 15 will be able to purchase a ticket at the Box Office for just $15. St. Patrick’s Day-themed “Mystery Pucks,” signed by various Amerks players, will be on sale in the concourse starting when gates open at 6:00 p.m. There will also be live music from the band “1916” during Happy Hour and the first intermission and a photo booth stationed on the main concourse, where fans can get their pictures taken.
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.
Zweigle’s Family 4-Pack – For just $48, fans can purchase four lower level tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for select remaining Amerks regular season home games, beginning tonight against Abbotsford.
Moe's Hot Players - Tonight's Moe's Hot Players are Phil Varone, Mark Mancari and Maxime Legault. If any of these Amerks players score a goal tonight, your roster card is worth 50% off your order the following day at any participating Moe’s restaurants. If one of those players scores a hat trick, bring your roster card to any participating Moe’s restaurant the next day and receive a free burrito. Eat at Moe’s!