Veteran forward Jamie Tardif scored his first goal of the night just 11 seconds into the contest and added another on a penalty shot eight seconds into the third period to lead the Rochester Americans to a 4-2 win over the visiting North Division rival Lake Erie Monsters Wednesday at The Blue Cross Arena. The win vaults the Amerks to second place in the North Division with a record of 11-10-2-2, moving ahead of the Monsters by a point. The two-game set continues on Friday, Dec. 13 as the teams take it outdoors in the premier event of the 2013 Greater Area Rochester Honda Dealers Frozen Frontier presented by Labatt.
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Kevin Porter added a goal and an assist, Chad Ruhwedel had two assists and Mike Zigomanis provided a single tally to round out the scoring for the Amerks. Matt Hackett denied 16 shots for his sixth win of the season, while Kevin Sundher and Phil Varone also notched assists for Rochester. With his 20th assist of the season, Varone now ranks second in the AHL in total assists.
Mark Olver and Paul Carey scored for Lake Erie, and Sami Aittokallio made 27 saves in net as his record drops to 5-4-1.
The Amerks wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Just 11 seconds after puck drop, Porter broke into the zone and slipped a pass through the stick of a Lake Erie defender right to Tardif. Tardif made a quick forehand move, and slid the puck through Aittokallio’s five-hole to provide a 1-0 Amerks lead. With the goal, Tardif extends his point-streak to a season-high six games with five goals and three assists over that stretch.
With just under four minutes remaining in the opening period following a failed power-play, Varone skated into the zone, curled to the boards and dished a back-hand pass to Porter. Porter’s quick shot went underneath the blocker of Aittokallio and in for a 2-0 Rochester advantage.
Solid defensive play by the Amerks limited Lake Erie’s scoring chances throughout the first half of the game, but the Monsters would cut the lead in half 2-1 on the power-play when Olver fired a hard shot past Hackett.
With just 1:25 left in the middle frame, Carey’s wrap-around attempt beat Hackett to the post to tie the score at two apiece. Not to be outdone, Zigomanis quickly responded with a high shot that froze Aittokallio for a 3-2 Amerks lead with only 28 seconds remaining in the period.
The Amerks used another fast start to begin the third, as Tardif was hauled down on a breakaway just eight seconds into the period. The forward was awarded a penalty shot, and his quick deke fooled Aittokallio for his second score of the game.
Only minutes later with the Monsters pressing for their third goal, Hackett made his two best saves of the night. The first came directly in front of the Rochester goal, as Hackett sprawled to his right and flashed the glove on a high Lake Erie attempt. The second was just moments later, as a Monsters forward broke down the left wing and fired a slap-shot that was once again denied by Hackett’s glove.
Rochester took a late penalty with 2:25 remaining in regulation, and the Monsters pulled Aittokallio a minute later for a six-on-four advantage, but couldn’t solve Hackett again.
These same two teams meet again on Friday, Dec. 13 when the Amerks host Lake Erie in the sixth outdoor game in AHL history to kickoff the Greater Area Rochester Honda Dealers Frozen Frontier presented by Labatt at Frontier Field. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be televised live to audiences across the United States on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel , DirecTV and the Dish Network as well across Canada on Sportsnet. The game will also re-air on NHL Network Saturday afternoon.