Luke Adam led the way with a goal and two assists and Nathan Lieuwen stopped 36 shots to lead the Amerks to a 4-1 win over the visiting Toronto Marlies Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The North Divisions rivals are scheduled to meet seven more times this season, including next Saturday in Toronto.
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Phil Varone stretched his point streak to four games, recording a goal and an assist. Matt Ellis and Dan Catenacci also tallied goals for the Amerks with Ellis notching an assist as well. Also adding assists on the night were Alex Hutchings, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Alexander Sulzer and Chad Ruhwedel. The Amerks’ penalty kill also went six-for-six tonight, keeping the vaunted Marlies’ power-play at bay.
Wade MacLeod scored the lone goal and goaltender Garret Sparks made 18 saves in a losing effort for the Marlies, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped.
The Amerks struck nine seconds into the first period when Catenacci potted his second of the year from Ellis and Hutchings to go up 1-0 on the Marlies. The starting forward line executed a perfect 3-on-2 fastbreak with Ellis setting up Catenacci for a one-timer inside the left post.
After a Johnny McGuire and Jamie Devane fight at 5:05 of the first, Adam wired a slap-shot over Sparks’ glove off a great breakout by Gauthier-Leduc and Varone for a 2-0 lead 9:46 into the first period. Lieuwen stood strong, making 15 saves to keep the Marlies off the board.
In the second period, Lieuwen stoppied 11 of 12 Toronto shots, only yielding once at the 16:02 mark to MacLeod. The play started with former Amerk T.J. Brennan keeping the puck in at the left point, where he moved it down the wall to Abbott, who slid a pass to MacLeod. The Marlies forward took care of the rest, scoring his second of the season to cut the Amerks lead to 2-1 after two periods of play.
A power-play goal by the Amerks put the home team up 3-1 5:02 into the third period. Brayden McNabb moved the puck to Sulzer at the right point, where he found a cutting Adam for a deflection. As the puck moved toward the Toronto goal, it caromed off Ellis’ leg and snuck across the goal-line for the captain’s first goal of the season.
Less than four minutes later at 8:51 of the third, a broken play allowed Ruhwedel to spring Varone free on a breakaway and the third-year forward deked to his backhand to give the Amerks a 4-1 cushion.
The Amerks remain at home on Saturday, Oct. 19 as the Utica Comets return for the second time in as many weeks for another go-around at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the second of 10 meetings this season between the new intrastate rivals and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.