TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rochester Americans open up the back-end of their four-game homestand tonight as they close out their season series with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: DON STEVENS WITH CHRIS TAYLOR
2012-13 AHL STANDINGS 2012-13 NHL STANDINGS
2012-13 ROCHESTER STATS 2012-13 WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON STATS
2012-13 BUFFALO STATS 2012-13 PITTSBURGH STATS
FRIDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST
Last Game: Rochester vs. Hamilton – 1/21/13
Rochester (6) vs. Hamilton (3)
Goals: Sundher, Porter, Roy, Schofield (GWG), Rankin, Flynn
Goalie(s): Leggio (21 saves/24 shots, 60:00)
Special Teams: PP: 1/2 --- PK: 1/2
Shots: Rochester 34 --- Hamilton 24
PIM: Rochester 23 --- Hamilton 23
3 Stars: 1. Porter (RCH), 2. Schofield (RCH), 3. Mancari (RCH)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Pens earned a 5-4 overtime win in the teams’ only other get-together earlier this season back on Oct. 26 at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Skating 6-on-5 with 1:08 to play in regulation, Rochester erased a 4-2 deficit with back-to-back goals 43 seconds apart from Kevin Porter and Mark Mancari to force overtime, but the rally would fall short as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Paul Thompson converted on a breakaway opportunity in the closing seconds of the extra frame to lift the Penguins to victory. Entering play tonight, the Amerks are winless in their previous six meetings with the Baby Pens dating back to the 2010-11 season, going 0-4-1-1- over that span, including three straight losses at home. Rochester is looking for its first win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since the 2009-10 campaign when the teams split the season series with a pair of home wins each.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (21-15-2-1, 45 points) enters the contest coming off an impressive offensive showing that produced a 6-3 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in Monday’s afternoon matinee at The Blue Cross Arena. A quick start spotted the Amerks to a 2-0 lead in the first 53 seconds of the contest which saw six different goal-scorers find the back of the net for Rochester, which has now won two straight and four of its last five games. Monday’s win over Hamilton yielded Adam Pardy’s first point as an Amerk and was also the 20th of the season for goaltender David Leggio, who now shows three consecutive 20-win seasons to his credit. The fifth-year netminder began the remarkable streak with 22 wins during the 2010-11 campaign with Portland before posting a career-high 28 victories last season with Rochester, including 13 over the team’s final 23 games, to help the Amerks clinch a berth in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. Leggio, who’s won four of his last five starts, leads all AHL netminders in wins (20), saves (1003) and minutes played (2001:30). Much of Rochester’s recent success can be attributed to its play at home, where the Amerks have captured 14 of their 21 wins this season and have outscored their opponents 75-61 in 22 games within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks, who have won three straight and seven of their last nine games in their downtown hockey barn, are presently the AHL’s third-best team at home, while their 14 wins rank second to only Abbotsford and Binghamton, who each show a league-best 15 wins on home ice. Despite currently being on NHL recall with Buffalo, T.J. Brennan remains Rochester’s top point-getter and ranks second in scoring among AHL defensemen with a team-high 35 points (14+21), good enough for 13th overall. Brennan also leads all rearguards in shots (132), shorthanded goals (2), and power-play goals (7) and is the only blueliner in the league to lead his respective team in scoring.
BISHOP SIGNED TO PTO: The Amerks announced today that the team has signed forward Hunter Bishop of the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) to a professional tryout. Bishop, 25, has appeared in 38 games for South Carolina this season, recording 34 points (16+18) and 18 penalty minutes to tie for the team-lead in scoring. He has also played in three AHL games this season with the Lake Erie Monsters. In 2010-11, the native of Fairbanks, Alaska, appeared in 34 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs, collecting eight points (4+4) and 10 penalty minutes, and also played nine games with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers. Prior to making his professional debut with Hamilton in 2009-10, when he recorded five points (2+3) in nine games with the Bulldogs, the 6-foot, 190-pound Bishop played two seasons at Ohio State University.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON NOTES: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (20-17-2-1, 43 points), opening up a brief two-game North Division road swing tonight, comes into the matchup riding a five-game winning streak after a 3-0 blanking of the St. John’s IceCaps Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Riley Holzapfel scored a goal and added an assist, while fourth-year netminder Brad Thiessen stopped all 26 shots he faced to record his third shutout in six starts. Thiessen, a First Team AHL All-Star and recipient of the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s Outstanding Goaltender in 2010-11, has backstopped Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to wins in five of his last six starts, including four on the Pens’ current winning streak, and has allowed just eight goals over his last eight games, good for a 1.10 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage in that span. A day after bringing back the franchise’s all-time leading scorer in Tom Kostopoulos on a Professional Tryout, the Pens’ offense was further bolstered with the acquisition of forward Chad Kolarik, who was obtained by the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday in a trade that sent Benn Ferriero to the New York Rangers. In 41 games this season with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale, Kolarik, originally a seventh-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004, has registered 35 points on 16 goals and 19 assists. Kolarik, who was recently recalled by the Rangers prior to the trade, ranks tied for 13th in the AHL in scoring and has six points (1+5) in his last five games. Thompson, a third-year pro out of the University of New Hampshire, carries a four-game point streak (3+2) into tonight’s game, which includes a goal in three straight games from Jan. 12 to Jan. 20.
UP NEXT: 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.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- With 49 goals through their last 14 games, the Amerks are currently tied for second in the league in goals for with 134, just three shy of Springfield’s league-leading 137 tallies. Rochester is currently averaging 3.44 goals-per-game, which is also tied for the most among league opponents.
- Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last 17 games as the Amerks have converted on 18 of their last 66 man-advantage opportunities, including six times over the last six games. The Amerks are fourth in the league with 38 power-play goals and own third-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 22.0% efficiency rate. More impressively, Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 26 of the first 39 games this season.
- Despite presently being on NHL recall with Buffalo, Brennan, who left the Amerks riding a five-game point streak (2+3), ranks second among AHL defensemen with 14 goals, including seven on the power-play, tying him for seventh in the league in that category.
- Brian Flynn, who added another goal in Rochester’s win over the Bulldogs on Monday, enters the contest eighth among AHL rookies with 28 points (14+14) in 36 games. The Amerks are 9-2-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
- Leggio, who’s won four of his last five starts, leads all AHL netminders in wins (20), saves (1003) and minutes played (2001:30). He also boasts the second-best shootout record (4-1) among goaltenders, having stopped 20 of 25 shooters 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.
- The Amerks have allowed at least five goals in a game 10 times this season, but are 5-4-1-0 in those games.
The American Hockey League announced last week that Amerks defenseman Brayden McNabb and center Kevin Porter have been named to the Western Conference All-Star roster for the 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic, which will take place in Providence, Rhode Island on Jan. 27-28. McNabb, 21, has appeared in 38 games for the Amerks this season and currently ranks second in scoring among Amerks defensemen with 20 points (3+17) and ranks fourth overall on the team with 17 assists. This marks the second straight AHL All-Star selection for McNabb, who was named to the roster as a rookie last season but was unable to play due to a recall to the Buffalo Sabres. Porter, 26, has appeared in all 39 of Rochester’s games this season and currently ranks tied for second on the team in scoring with 33 points on 12 goals and 21 assists. Porter, the Amerks’ team captain, will be making his first career AHL All-Star appearance.
Eight different crowds of 7,500+ fans in attendance have taken in an Amerks game this season, including six in the Flower City’s downtown hockey barn. The number is a vast improvement from the 2011-12 season, when only three crowds of 7,500 or more were on hand. Rochester is currently eighth in the AHL in total attendance to date and is averaging 6,654 fans per game through the first 22 home games of the 2012-13 campaign.
2012 IN REVIEW
Several Amerks players finished atop the AHL’s regular-season scoring leaders during the 2012 calendar year, including Brennan and McNabb, who each finished sixth and 10th in scoring among league blueliners with 44 points (22+22) and 37 points (6+31), respectively. Leggio, who played in a combined 62 games for the Amerks in 2012, including the final 23 of the 2011-12 season, led all netminders with 34 wins while totaling three shutouts throughout the year.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Rochester set a new franchise attendance record by playing in front of a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans on Friday, Dec. 28 against Lake Erie at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. The record-setting attendance also represented the eighth-largest crowd for a single game in American Hockey League history and the fourth-largest for an AHL game played indoors. The previous Amerks record for the largest crowd in the 57-year history of the franchise was 17,898, which was set eight years prior to the day on Dec. 28, 2004, when the Amerks defeated the Edmonton Roadrunners at the then-HSBC Arena in Buffalo.
BRENNAN GETTING CLOSER
With his power-play goal at Syracuse on Jan. 12, 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. After officially reaching the halfway point with a pair of shorthanded tallies against the Albany Devils on Nov. 23, Brennan is now within four goals of tying the mark and five away from setting a new record. The fourth-year pro fell just two short of the record last season, scoring 16 goals in only 52 games with the Amerks.
MAKE THAT THREE STRAIGHT FOR LEGGIO
Leggio recorded his 20th win of the season with a 21-save effort in Rochester’s 6-3 victory over Hamilton on Monday, solidifying the fifth-year netminder’s third consecutive 20-win season. Leggio began the impressive streak with 22 wins during the 2010-11 campaign with Portland before posting a career-high 28 victories last season with Rochester, including 13 over the team’s final 23 games, to help the Amerks clinch a berth in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs.
HOME, SWEET HOME
With half of the season already in the books, home-ice advantage has certainly been beneficial for the Amerks. Coming off their win over Hamilton on Monday afternoon, the Amerks have now won three straight and seven of their last nine games played within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks boast a 14-7-0-1 record in their downtown venue, making them the third-best home team in the AHL, while their 14 wins rank second to only Abbotsford and Binghamton, who each show a league-best 15 wins on home-ice.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
The Amerks have seen eight of their last 21 games decided by one goal dating back to a 4-3 setback at Toronto on Dec. 8. Rochester is 8-6-1-1 in 16 one-goal games this season after finishing the 2011-12 campaign with 42 such outings. Of those 16 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 11-6-1-1 (24 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show a 10-9-1-0 (21 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 24 of the first 39 games of the campaign and show a 17-5-2-0 record when doing so, including an 11-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 16-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 11-0-0-0 mark at home. The Amerks are averaging 30.92 shots per game, the 10th-highest output among opponents.
Despite seeing his five-game point streak come to an end on Monday, Luke Adam enters the contest with seven points (2+5) in his last six games as well as four assists through his last five appearances… Alex Biega shows five assists in as many games, while fellow blueliner Nick Crawford has tallied an assist in three of his last four outings… Mancari enters the matchup with 20 points (8+12) over his last 17 games, a stretch that also featured a season-long five-game point streak from 12/19 to 12/28… More impressively, Mancari has posted six games with multiple points during the same stretch, including his two-assist effort Monday versus Hamilton… Flynn has 11 points (5+6) through his last 12 games, including goals in back-to-back games and four of his last six… More interesting, the first-year pro hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… Evan Rankin has collected 22 points (11+11) over his last 30 games and has only been held scoreless just 13 times in 34 games this season… Porter, who factored in on both of Rochester’s first two goals against the Bulldogs Monday, has tabbed 25 points (8+17) in his last 26 appearances, including 21 points (7+14) through his last 20 outings.
Pardy registered his first point as an Amerk with an assist in Monday’s win over Hamilton… The veteran defenseman is also 13 games shy of 400 pro appearances… Monday’s game also marked the 100th career game in an Amerks uniform for Biega... Adam is just five points away from reaching the century mark for his AHL career… Mancari, who also skated in his 250th game as an Amerk against Hamilton on 1/11, is just a mere five goals away from 200 pro goals… Leggio needs another six games to reach 200 career pro tilts… Porter recorded the 100th point of his AHL career with his first assist of the game at Abbotsford on 1/04.
Tim Hortons Discount Night – Tonight’s game falls on the first installment of the Tim Hortons Discount Nights. Special Amerks coupons are available at 35 participating Tim Hortons locations in the Rochester area, and can be redeemed for a $5 discount on any 100 Level Premium or 100 Level End seat to select Amerks home games. The offer is valid for the Amerks home games on Jan. 25, Feb. 1, Feb. 15, Feb. 17, Feb. 20, Feb. 26, Mar. 8, Mar. 10, Mar. 13 and Mar. 15. The coupons can only be redeemed at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office, by calling 1-855-GO-AMERKS or online at www.amerks.com by using Promo Code: TIM. There is a maximum purchase of eight tickets per coupon redeemed. The offer is based upon availability and cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions.
Eats & Seats – The Distillery “Eats & Seats” promotion returns for another season, where for just $20, fans can purchase one ticket (best-available) and a $10 gift card to The Distillery.
Hockey Night in Rochester – Friday nights are Hockey Night in Rochester, and fans who wear an Amerks or Sabres jersey to a Friday game can purchase a best-available seat for just $17.
Ditch the Dorms – Ditch the Dorms Nights are back this season again on Fridays, where students who present their College ID at The Blue cross Arena Box Office can purchase a best available ticket for just $12.
Amerks Happy Hour – Prior to every Friday night home game this season, there will be an Amerks Happy Hour from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Upper Atrium Bar featuring live music and $2 Molson and Coors Light drafts for fans age 21 and over.