TONIGHT’S GAME: After opening the 2012-13 American Hockey League season with a 6-5 shootout win over the Syracuse Crunch on Friday, the Rochester Americans look to remain unbeaten as they travel north of the border to take on the defending Western Conference champion Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. The 5:00 p.m. contest will be the first of 10 meetings between the North Division rivals this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 AM WHTK.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Rochester and Toronto collide for the first time since the Marlies completed their three-game sweep of the Amerks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Amerks posted a 3-4-3-0 record through 10 get-togethers with Toronto last season, which included a 2-1-2-0 mark on the road. Rochester is 26-32-2 all-time against the Toronto Maple Leafs’ affiliate.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester enters the contest fresh off its 6-5 shootout win over Syracuse last night at The Blue Cross Arena. After surrendering four unanswered goals to relinquish a 3-1 lead, veteran forward Mark Mancari potted the game-tying goal before scoring the game-winner in the fifth round of the skills competition to secure the win for the Amerks. Third-year pro Corey Tropp provided a pair of goals while rookie defenseman Mark Pysyk celebrated his professional debut with his first pro goal. Reigning team MVP David Leggio, last year’s AHL saves leader, turned aside 29 saves in regulation before denying all five Crunch shooters in the shootout to help Rochester improve to 34-17-6 all-time in home-opening matchups. Led by second-year Head Coach Ron Rolston, the Amerks enter the season coming off a successful 2011-12 campaign that saw the team finish with a 36-26-10-4 overall record (86 points) and advance to the postseason for the second time in three years. In his first year behind the Rochester bench, Rolston and his staff assembled the second-best offense in all of the Western Conference as Rochester finished the campaign scoring 224 goals. Additionally, the organizational commitment to player development was evidenced by a dozen different Amerks that joined the big club on NHL recall last season. Rochester also led the AHL in games decided after regulation with 24, showing a 4-10 mark in overtime while going 6-4 in shootouts.
TORONTO NOTES: Toronto comes into the matchup after putting together perhaps its finest season in franchise history after posting a 44-24-5-3 record en route to a second place finish in the regular season and its first ever Calder Cup Finals appearance. The Marlies return 20 players from last season, including top-point getter Mike Zigomanis, who led the club with 61 points (19+42) in 68 games. The 11-year pro finished the 2011-12 campaign ranked 10th among league leaders in assists. Toronto also bolstered its offense with the offseason acquisition of AHL perennial all-star Keith Aucoin, a two-time Calder Cup winner who’s eclipsed the 70-point mark in each of his last two seasons. Anchoring the Toronto defense is goaltender Ben Scrivens, who returns for his third season with the Marlies. The Spruce Grove, Alberta, native is also coming off his best season as a pro in 2011-12, going 22-15-1 while finishing first and fifth among AHL netminders with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage, respectively. Scrivens was also part of a Marlies team that last season that had the best penalty killing unit in the AHL.
UP NEXT: The Amerks return home on Tuesday, Oct. 16 as the Binghamton Senators journey north to The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the first of eight get-togethers between the intrastate rivals this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 AM WHTK.