AMERKS HEAD INTO ALL-STAR BREAK WITH 4-2 WIN OVER BABY PENS
(Rochester, NY)… The Rochester Americans scored four goals in the second period, including three unanswered tallies late in the frame to overcome a 2-1 deficit, as the Amerks earned a 4-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Friday at The Blue Cross Arena. The win improves Rochester to 3-0-0-0 over its current four-game homestand and 22-15-2-1 overall heading into the annual All-Star break.
Mark Pysyk (1+1) and Mark Mancari (0+2) each posted two-point nights, while David Leggio stopped 23 of 25 shots he faced to pick up his 21st win of the season, helping Rochester snap its six-game winless streak against the Baby Pens dating back to the 2010-11 season. Brian Flynn, Adam Pardy and Kevin Sundher rounded out the scoring for the Amerks, who have now won eight of their last 10 games within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena. Alex Biega and team captain Kevin Porter, who is headed to his first AHL All-Star appearance, also recorded assists in the win, each extending their current point streaks to three games.
Chad Kolarik and Zack Sill provided the scoring for the Penguins, who saw their five-game win streak halted. Brad Thiessen and Jeff Zatkoff combined for 22 saves in the losing effort.
Newcomer Kolarik gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton an early 1-0 lead with his team-leading 17th goal of the season just 1:36 into the contest. Brian Gibbons gained the Rochester blueline and made a drop pass to a trailing Kolarik, who had his initial bid denied by Leggio, but capitalized on his own rebound to notch his first goal in a Penguins uniform after being acquired by the parent Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade with the New York Rangers yesterday.
The Amerks answered just 1:15 into the middle frame as Pysyk beat Thiessen from the top of the right circle to make it a 1-1 game. Mancari’s long stretch pass from the opposite side of the ice sprung Pysyk free up the right wing boards and the rookie defenseman finished the rush, firing a well-placed shot inside the far post for his third of the season. Brayden McNabb, who will also be representing Rochester this weekend at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, also earned an assist on the play.
The Penguins regained the lead midway through the second period as Sill became the beneficiary of a goal-mouth scramble to put the visitors ahead 2-1 at 9:56. Leggio appeared to have the puck in his possession, but Tom Kostopoulos, who was camped at the right post, dug it out from underneath the Amerks netminder, allowing Sill to creep in from behind the cage to stuff it home for his first of the season.
The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Rochester reeled off three unanswered goals in the final 6:34 of the second period, beginning with Flynn’s team-leading 15th marker on the power-play. Flynn, who managed to sneak behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense, was left all alone on the doorstep as he redirected a pass from Mancari to the back of the net to make it a 2-2 score, giving the first-year forward a goal in each of his last three games.
Back-to-back goals from Pardy and Sundher in a span of 1:31 would give the Amerks a 4-2 advantage and their first lead of the night. First, Phil Varone, coming off a burst of speed by the Penguins net, set up Pardy at the left face-off dot, where the veteran defenseman picked the top left corner on the short-side for his first as an Amerk. Then, with just eight seconds left in the frame, Sundher beat Thiessen as he took a Porter pass in stride to cap the four-goal second period.
The Amerks are back in action after a four-day hiatus for the annual All-Star break when they host the North Division rival Toronto Marlies on Friday, Feb. 1 at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the sixth of 10 gatherings between the two teams this season and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The game will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.