TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rochester Americans continue their four-game homestand tonight as they meet the Lake Erie Monsters in the back-end of a two-game set at the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the third of six meetings between the North Division rivals this season and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The game will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
Last Game: Rochester vs. Lake Erie – 12/26/12
Rochester (7) vs. Lake Erie (6) – OT
Goals: Rankin, Hodgson (2), Brennan, Girgensons, Mancari, Foligno
Goalie(s): Leggio (32 saves/38 shots, 62:06)
Special Teams: PP: 2/5 --- PK: 3/3
Shots: Lake Erie 38 --- Rochester 33
PIM: Lake Erie 20 --- Rochester 16
3 Stars: 1. Brennan (RCH), 2. Hodgson (RCH), 3. van der Gulik (LE)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Rochester is 2-0-0-0 this season against Lake Erie after earning its second consecutive 7-6 victory over the Monsters Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. Trailing 6-5 late in the third period, Mark Mancari scored the game-tying goal at 14:41 of the final frame to set the stage for Marcus Foligno’s overtime game-winner, marking the second straight game against Lake Erie the veteran forward would help the team rally from behind. Mancari also scored the equalizer that sparked Rochester’s 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Monsters back on Dec. 13 at Quicken Loans Arena. More interesting, the teams have combined for an astonishing 26 goals through the first two games of the season series, including 10 in the third periods alone. Coming off his career-best five-point showing (1+4) on Wednesday, T.J. Brennan shows six points (1+5) in two games against Lake Erie this season.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (14-11-2-1, 31 points) enters the contest after staging another late-game rally to outlast the Monsters in a 7-6 overtime win just two nights ago on home ice. Foligno netted the game-winner just 2:40 into the extra frame, while Brennan factored in on five of the Amerks’ seven goals, including all three first period tallies. Cody Hodgson also recorded three points (2+1), including the lone assist on Foligno’s game-winner and David Leggio made 32 saves for the Amerks, who are 3-0-0-1 in their last four games at home and moved within two points of Lake Erie in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings. Brennan, who shows 10 points (3+7) over his last six games, ranks second among AHL defensemen in scoring with 28 points (12+16) in 28 games, good enough for ninth overall among the league’s top point-getters. Brennan also enters play tonight leading all rearguards in power-play goals (6), shorthanded goals (2) and shots (109). The fourth-year blueliner is also tied for 14th in the AHL with a team-high 12 goals and needs just another six goals to tie the franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a single-season.
LAKE ERIE NOTES: Lake Erie (15-13-2-1, 33 points), wrapping up its brief two-game road swing tonight, comes into the matchup after seeing its three-game winning streak halted in Wednesday’s overtime loss to Rochester. Reigning AHL Player of the Week David van der Gulik extended his goal-scoring streak to five consecutive games with a pair of tallies for the Monsters, who also received two-point games from Karl Stollery (1+1), Andrew Agozzino (0+2), Dean Strong (0+2) and Paul Carey (0+2). Despite the loss, however, the Monsters have picked up points in four straight games dating back to 4-3 won over Toronto on Dec. 19. Two of Lake Erie’s top three scorers are currently in their first professional season, including leading point-getter Mike Sgarbossa, who paces the Lake Erie offense with 27 points (12+15) and leads the team with 12 goals. His 27 points presently tie him for second overall among league rookies and he is one of just seven AHL freshmen to lead their respective teams in scoring. Among the 16 players returning from last year’s squad is highly-touted defenseman Tyson Barrie, who represented the Monsters at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic. A third-round selection of the Colorado Avalanche in 2009, Barrie currently ranks fourth in scoring among AHL rearguards with 24 points (6+18) and is the only defenseman to appear in all 31 games for Lake Erie thus far this season.
UP NEXT: Rochester plays its third of four games in six nights as the Amerks host the Binghamton Senators on Saturday, Dec. 29 at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the fifth of eight get-togethers between the intrastate rivals this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
•With 14 goals through their last three games, the Amerks are currently fourth in the AHL in goals for with 98, seven shy of Syracuse’s league-leading 105 tallies. Rochester is currently averaging 3.50 goals-per-game, the second-most league opponents.
•Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last six games as the Amerks have converted on seven of their last 24 man-advantage opportunities, including twice in Wednesday’s win over Lake Erie. The Amerks are tied for third in the league with 27 power-play goals and own the third-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 20.6% efficiency rate. More impressively, Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 18 of the first 28 games this season.
•Fresh off his five-point outing on Wednesday, Brennan leapfrogged Foligno for the team lead in scoring and ranks second among AHL defensemen with 28 points (12+16), while his team-leading 12 goals are second-most among league rearguards. Additionally, six of Brennan’s 12 tallies have come on the power-play, tying him for third among league leaders. Currently performing at a point-per-game pace, Brennan is also second in the AHL with 108 shots on goal and is one of just three defensemen to lead his respective team in scoring.
•Brian Flynn enters the contest ranked 14th among AHL rookies with 19 points (9+10) in 25 games after assisting on a pair of goals in Wednesday’s win. The Amerks are 5-1-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
•David Leggio, who has started 22 of the last 28 games for the Amerks, leads all AHL netminders in saves (652) and ranks second in wins (13) and minutes played (1345:13). He also boasts the best shootout record (4-1) among goaltenders, having stopped 20 of 25 shooters, including four in Rochester’s 6-5 win over Binghamton on Dec. 21, for a .800 save percentage. The native of Williamsville, NY, is 15-3 all-time in AHL shootouts and has won eight of his last 10.
BRENNAN GETTING CLOSER
With his power-play goal Wednesday vs. Lake Erie, Brennan is on pace to break Rick Pagnutti’s 40-year-old franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a single-season. Pagnutti set the mark during the 1972-73 campaign, his first in Rochester, when he netted 18 goals en route to a 55-point season, which led all Amerks defensemen and placed him third on the team in overall scoring. Brennan officially reached the halfway point with a pair of shorthanded tallies against the Albany Devils on Nov. 23 and has since added three more to become the first Amerk this season to reach double digits in just 28 games. The fourth-year pro fell just two short of the record last season, scoring 16 goals in only 52 games with the Amerks.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
The Amerks have seen seven of their last 10 games decided by one goal dating back to a 4-3 setback at Toronto on Dec. 8. Rochester is 8-5-1-1 in 15 one-goal games this season after finishing the 2011-12 campaign with 42 such outings. Of those 15 one-goal games, seven have been determined in overtime or via the shootout, for a 5-0-1-1 mark.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks are 6-5-1-1 (14 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show an 8-6-1-0 (17 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 17 of the first 28 games of the campaign and show an 11-4-2-0 record when doing so, including a 7-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 9-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 6-0-0-0 mark at home. The Amerks are averaging 31.71 shots per game, the eighth-highest output among league opponents.
Mancari enters the game riding a four-game point streak (1+5) and has registered eight points (2+6) over his last six outings… More impressively, Mancari has posted three games with multiple points during the stretch, including two in his last three games… Rookie defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc is also in the midst of his first career point streak, showing one goal and two assists through his last three games… Luke Adam’s season-long point streak of eight games came to an end on Wednesday, his first scoreless outing since Dec. 1… Adam’s streak of five goals and four assists was the AHL’s longest active point streak (12/07-12/22)… Coming off his career five-point night (1+4) on Wednesday, Brennan shows 10 points (3+7) over his last six games, including points in four straight games from 12/13 to 12/21… Flynn shows 18 points (8+10) in his last 18 games after being held pointless in six of his first seven outings to begin the campaign… Evan Rankin has registered 16 points (8+8) over his last 19 games, including two goals in his last three appearances, and has only been held scoreless just eight times in 23 games this season… Team captain Kevin Porter, meanwhile, has tabbed 13 points (5+8) in his last 16 appearances, including nine points (4+5) in his last nine outings.
Brayden McNabb needs two more games to reach the century mark in his pro career… Porter is three points shy of 100 AHL points… Joe Finley is just eight games shy of 100 AHL games… Mancari, who will celebrate his 250th game as an Amerk on Jan. 11 vs. Hamilton, is 11 goals away from 200 pro goals… Foligno and Phil Varone each skated in their 100th pro game against Binghamton on 12/21… Leggio earned his 100th professional win with a 33-save effort at Lake Erie on 12/13… Knapp earned his first career win, stopping 41 of 42 shots against Adirondack on 12/07… Adam made his 100th career AHL appearance at Toronto on Dec. 12/01.
A ‘FLYNN-TASTIC’ NOVEMBER
Rookie forward Brian Flynn was Rochester’s most productive and consistent player throughout the month of November. After beginning the month with an assist in a 3-2 win over Hamilton on Nov. 2, the Lynnfield, Massachusetts, native put on quite the offensive display that saw the rookie forward record an astounding 15 points on seven goals and eight assists over a career-long nine-game point streak. Flynn’s only scoreless outing in November came in Friday’s 4-1 setback to Toronto, snapping what was the second-longest active point streak and the longest active assist streak in the AHL. More impressively, however, Flynn compiled four multi-point outings during the stretch, including three over his last six appearances that was highlighted by a career-high four-point effort (3+1) on Nov. 23 against Albany as he notched his first career hat trick. Flynn ranked fifth in the AHL in scoring during the month of November, behind only Oklahoma City’s Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall and Houston’s Justin Fontaine.
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