The Rochester Americans rode the hot goaltending of David Leggio to get back to their winning ways with a 3-1 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night. The win moves the Amerks (17-13-5-3) back to within five points of division leading Toronto.
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“Leggio was great for us again tonight and he was a difference-maker in that game without question,” said Head Coach Ron Rolston. “He’s had a stretch here where he is really feeling it and looks very confident.”
A crowd of 6,305 watched Leggio finish with 35 saves between the pipes for Rochester to earn first star honors. Marcus Foligno scored two goals and Phil Varone added two assists while Mark Voakes also contributed a goal in the effort. Leggio has now started four straight games for the Amerks, posting a 1.95 goals against average and a .954 save percentage in that span. Varone now has 16 points (5+11) in the last 15 games.
“It’s about time (we beat Hamilton),” Foligno said. “The guys are very relieved that we finally beat them. They have taken some points from us and it is good to beat that team right below us and we want to keep them below us. It definitely builds confidence and these two points were huge.”
Phil DeSimone lit the lamp for Hamilton in the loss while netminder Robert Mayer turned away 28 of 30 shots.
The Amerks got on the board first in the final minute of the opening period as Voakes finished off a pretty passing combination for his fifth goal of the season. Shawn Szydlowski found Nick Crawford in the slot, creating a two-on-one and Crawford quickly hit Voakes at the right circle with a perfect pass to beat Mayer low to the stick side.
Rochester responded with another tally just 17 seconds into the second period to double its lead to 2-0. Varone connected with Foligno streaking to the net off the rush and Foligno deflected the feed past the Hamilton goaltender on the backhand.
Hamilton responded at 4:19 of the second to cut its deficit in half, as DeSimone notched his seventh goal of the season. The East Amherst, NY native was the recipient of a pass at the left weak-side post off the stick of Garrett Stafford and slid the puck into the vacant cage to make the score 2-1 Rochester.
Despite a strong third period push by the Bulldogs in attempt to even the score, Leggio stood tall in the Amerks’ crease and Foligno buried an empty-netter in the final minute of play to secure the victory.
Rochester remains at home on Thursday, January 19 as the Oklahoma City Barons make their inaugural trip to The Blue Cross Arena for the first of back-to-back tilts in Western New York. The teams will meet again in downtown Rochester again the following night to bring the season series to a close. Both games are slated for a 7:35 p.m. start and will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.