The Rochester Americans and Abbotsford Heat met for the second time in as many nights Wednesday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, where the Amerks cruised to a 6-2 win in the back-end of a two-game set between the North Division rivals. The win improves the Amerks to 25-16-2-1 (53 points) on the season and moves Rochester within two points of the top-ranked Heat for first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
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Brian Flynn scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and added an assist while Kevin Porter also finished with a three-point night (1+2) for the Amerks, who scored four unanswered goals to break a 2-2 tie. Mark Mancari (1+1) and Patrick Rissmiller (0+2) also picked up multiple points, while Luke Adam and Frederick Roy also scored to help the Amerks to their sixth win in the last seven games. David Leggio, who returned to the lineup tonight following a one-game absence from the team, turned in a 38-save effort to extend his personal win streak to six games and claim his 24th win of the season.
Ben Street and Brady Lamb each tallied single goals for the Heat and goaltender Barry Brust made 24 saves in the loss. In just three games against the Amerks this season, Brust has surrendered 12 of his 35 goals-against to Rochester, including 10 in the last two meetings between the two teams.
Flynn’s team-leading 16th goal of the season provided the Amerks with a 1-0 lead just 5:43 into the opening period. An early two-man advantage presented several quality scoring chances, but Rochester would strike eight seconds after the power-play had expired. Amerks captain Kevin Porter made a dash toward the net from the right corner, but as he was bumped off the play by an Abbotsford defender, the puck slid to an open Flynn, who snapped a quick shot inside the far post. Brayden McNabb also earned an assist on the goal, giving the second-year blueliner eight assists in his last six games.
A power-play tally by Street at 15:41 would make it a 1-1 game as he finished off a give-and-go with former Amerk Joe Callahan for his second goal in as many games. Street, stationed along the right half-wall, left it in the high slot for Callahan, who then made a return pass to a breaking Street and the Heat’s top point-getter handcuffed Leggio with a shot off the left post.
Rochester regained the lead just 39 seconds into the middle frame after a wrap-around goal from Adam made it a 2-1 contest. Adam corralled a loose puck behind the Abbotsford net and circled around looking to pass, but instead caught Brust off guard and tucked a shot under the netminder’s right pad for his 10th of the season.
The Heat would rally again, though, as Tyler Ruegsegger set up a booming one-timer by Lamb, whose blast from the point found the upper left corner at 7:23 to even the score at 2-2.
The standstill wouldn’t last long, however, as the Amerks retaliated with back-to-back goals in a span of 2:55 to go up 4-2, beginning with another goal from Flynn on the power-play goal at 15:33 . With Tarnasky camped at the top of the crease providing a screen, Flynn moved in from the left circle and snuck a bid between the legs of Brust.
Then, minutes later, Porter’s 15th of the season gave Rochester a two-goal advantage after drawing Brust out of his crease and flipping a puck to the top of the cage. Rissmiller sprung Porter free with a pass up the middle of the ice, and after showing tremendous poise, was able to force Brust to leave his post and pick the right corner from the goal-line.
The Amerks put the game out of reach 4:38 into the third period as Roy swept in Rissmiller’s rebound before Mancari finished off a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play with Porter and Kevin Sundher to give Rochester the 6-2 win.
Rochester closes out its four-game road swing as the Amerks make their way to Cleveland on Tuesday, Feb. 12 for a midweek North Division showdown with the Lake Erie Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. Game time is slated for 10:45 a.m. with all the action being carried live on WBER 90.5 FM.