Rookie forward Dan Catenacci scored the winning goal in the seventh round of the shootout as the Rochester Americans came back to defeat the visiting Toronto Marlies 2-1 Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The win extends Rochester’s home winning streak to a season-high six games and brings the Amerks record to 13-11-2-2 on the season, tying them for first place in the North Division with Toronto.
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Mike Zigomanis scored the lone goal for the Amerks midway through the third period on assists from Luke Adam and Phil Varone. Matt Hackett stopped 19 shots in net to earn his eighth win of the season.
Former Amerks netminder Drew MacIntyre was the story in net for Toronto, as the goaltender stopped 28 Rochester shots and kept the Amerk attack at bay for most of the night. Carter Ashton scored Toronto’s only goal.
Tonight’s affair marked Adam’s first game with the Amerks since Nov. 16, after a 12-game stint with the parent Buffalo Sabres and Brayden McNabb’s first since Dec. 4. Defenseman Mark Pysyk, who skated in 57 contests for the Amerks last season, also made his season debut in Rochester after the three players were reassigned to the Amerks earlier in the week.
The Marlies took a 1-0 lead just 7:45 into the opening period, as the puck took a tough hop on McNabb at the Rochester blueline and bounced right to Ashton. Ashton broke into the zone with a full head of steam and shot through Hackett’s five-hole for his fifth goal of the season.
A scoreless second period didn’t lack in scoring chances. Johan Larsson received a stretch pass seconds after leaving the penalty box and his high shot beat MacIntyre, but rang off the cross-bar.
Despite the 12-game separation, the line combination of Adam, Varone and Zigomanis generated plenty of scoring chances throughout the evening. The trio nearly tied the score with 5:45 remaining in the second period off the stick of Adam. With the Amerks controlling the puck below the goal-line, Adam planted himself in front of the net all alone and received a pass, but his high shot was deflected out of play by the glove of MacIntyre.
MacIntyre’s strong effort continued to start the third period, but it was Zigomanis that opened the scoring for Rochester with 10:08 remaining in regulation. Varone won the draw towards the slot, but the puck was pressured by the Toronto defense. After a quick battle for possession, Adam jarred the puck loose straight to Zigomanis, who fired a quick shot under MacIntyre’s blocker to tie the score 1-1 and ruin the shutout bid.
The Amerks and Marlies traded chances towards the end of the third, but neither team could find the deciding goal.
With 3:30 remaining in the overtime session, the Amerks were penalized for having too many men on the ice. On the ensuing penalty kill, Hackett made his best save of the night, robbing Greg McKegg from in front of the net with the left pad.
After two scoreless rounds, Ashton put the Marlies ahead 1-0 on their third attempt. Needing a goal to extend the shootout to a sixth round, Larsson fired a shot through MacIntyre’s legs. After Hackett stuffed Toronto’s next two tries, Catenacci’s snap-shot ricocheted off the left post and in to win the game for the Amerks.
The Amerks remain home on Friday, Dec. 20 as Rochester hosts the North Division rival Lake Erie Monsters in the first leg of a home-and-home series at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.