TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rochester Americans and Abbotsford Heat close out their two-game set with the second of back-to-back tilts tonight at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The 10:00 p.m. EST contest will be the sixth of eight scheduled meetings between the North Division rivals this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: DON STEVENS WITH BOB JANOSZ
2012-13 AHL STANDINGS 2012-13 NHL STANDINGS
ROCHESTER STATS BUFFALO STATS
ABBOTSFORD STATS CALGARY STATS
Last Game: Rochester at Abbotsford – 2/5/13
Rochester (2) at Abbotsford (3)
Goals: Roy, Tarnasky
Goalie(s): Knapp (17 saves/20 shots, 57:46)
Special Teams: PP: 0/8 --- PK: 2/3
Shots: Abbotsford 20 --- Rochester 19
PIM: Abbotsford 18 --- Rochester 18
3 Stars: 1. Carson (ABB), 2. Street (ABB), 3. Piskula (ABB)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Tuesday’s morning matinee featured a battle for North Division supremacy that saw Abbotsford gain the upper-hand in the tightly contested season series after its 3-2 win over the Amerks. The Heat, who hold a 3-2-0-0 advantage through five games this season against Rochester, have won two of the last three games between the two teams in Western Canada, where the Heat boast a league-best 16-6-2-1 record (35 points) as the top home team in the AHL. The Amerks and Heat have combined for 26 goals in the evenly matched series with 13 per side and are averaging just over five goals per game. Additionally, each team is also 7-3-0-0 over their last 10 games and rank among the top seven teams in the Western Conference entering play tonight.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (24-16-2-1, 51 points) enters the contest after seeing its season-long five-game winning streak halted in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Heat. Frederick Roy and Nick Tarnasky provided the goals for the Amerks and goaltender Connor Knapp made 17 saves in his first start since Dec. 22. Jonathan Parker also collected two assists for Rochester, who despite the loss, has won seven of its last nine games and sits just four points behind the top-ranked Heat. Returning to the Amerks tonight is fifth-year goaltender David Leggio, who is expected to be back in the lineup after a one-game absence from the team. Rochester’s offense has been one of the most potent in the league as of late as the Amerks lead the AHL in goals scored (150) and goals-per-game (3.49), while outscoring their opposition 57-46 in the second period. The Amerks are led offensively by the veteran duo of Mark Mancari and Kevin Porter, who share the team lead in scoring with 40 points each on 14 goals and 26 assists, good enough for sixth among the league’s top point-getters. Mancari and Porter, who both had their five-game point streaks snapped in yesterday’s loss, also rank tied for ninth in the AHL with a team-best 26 assists and have combined for 23 multi-point outings between the two of them this season. Leggio, who’s started 15 of the last 16 games for the Amerks and has won his last five starts, leads all AHL netminders in wins (23), saves (1096), minutes played (2181:19) and games played (36).
ABBOTSFORD NOTES: Abbotsford (24-15-3-4, 55 points), playing Game 2 of its current four-game homestand tonight, comes into the matchup with wins in two of its last three games after opening up the two-game set with a 3-2 victory over the Amerks yesterday. Ben Street (1+1) and Brett Carson (1+1) each scored a goal and an assist for the Heat, while Danny Taylor made 17 saves on 19 shots to help Abbotsford remain in sole possession of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings with the win. Street shows a team-high six points (3+3) against Rochester this season, while Taylor improved to 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.Abbotsford owns the best goaltending tandem in the league in Barry Brust and Taylor, who rank first and second among AHL netminders with a 1.69 and a 1.77 goals-against average, respectively. Brust, who is also second in the league with a .940 save percentage, earlier this season set the new AHL record for the longest shutout streak at 268:17, surpassing the longstanding mark of 249:51 established by Hall of Fame goaltender Johnny Bower. In just 18 games with the Heat this season, Brust boasts a 9-6-2 record with four shutouts and has made 457 saves on 486 shots. Abbotsford’s well-balanced scoring attack is led by Street, who paces the Heat with a team-high 30 points (11+19) while appearing in all but two games for the Heat. Operating at a 89.6 efficiency rate, Abbotsford also has the best penalty kill in the leagye, having allowed on 19 power-play goals on 182 shorthanded situations.
UP NEXT: The Amerks make their way to Cleveland on Tuesday, Feb. 12 for a midweek North Division showdown with the Lake Erie Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. Game time is slated for 10:45 a.m. with all the action being carried live on WBER 90.5 FM.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- With 66 goals through their last 18 games, including 27 over their recent five-game winning streak, the Amerks currently lead the league in goals for with 150. Rochester also leads the AHL in goals-per-game with 3.49. The next closest team is Syracuse, which is averaging 3.40 goals-per-game.
- Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last 10 games as the Amerks have converted on 10 of their last 49 man-advantage opportunities, including five times over the last five games. The Amerks are fourth in the league with 42 power-play goals and own the fourth-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 21.3% efficiency rate. More impressively, Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 29 of the first 43 games this season.
- Despite presently being on NHL recall with Buffalo, T.J, Brennan, who left the Amerks riding a five-game point streak (2+3), ranks second among AHL defensemen in goals (14) and points (35). Seven of his goals have come on the power-play, tying him for 10th in the league in that category. The special teams extraordinaire is also tied for seventh in the AHL with 12 power-play assists and leads all rearguards in power-play goals (7), shorthanded goals (2) and shots (132).
- Mancari and Porter share the team lead in scoring with 40 points each on 14 goals and 26 assists, good enough for sixth among the league’s top point-getters. The duo, who both had their five-game point streaks snapped in yesterday’s loss, also rank tied for ninth in the AHL with a team-best 26 assists and have combined for 23 multi-point outings between the two of them this season.
- Though scoreless through his last three games, Brian Flynn enters the contest ninth among AHL rookies with 29 points (15+14) in 40 games. The Amerks are 10-2-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
- Leggio, who’s started 15 of the last 16 games for the Amerks and has won his last five starts, leads all AHL netminders in wins (23), saves (1096), minutes played (2181:19) and games played (36). 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.
STARRY NIGHT IN PROVIDENCE
The American Hockey League’s annual All-Star break came to a close in dramatic fashion last week as the Western Conference All-Stars earned a two-event sweep over their Eastern Conference counterparts at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic in Providence, Rhode Island. The two-day affair began as Brayden McNabb and Kevin Porter, each participating in their first-ever All-Star event, helped the West rally for a 12-11 win over the East in the All-Star Skills Competition. Down 6-1 after three of seven events, the Western Conference mounted an impressive comeback, beginning with McNabb becoming just the fifth AHL player ever to crack triple digits in the CCM Hardest Shot contest, winning the event with a blast of 101.8 miles per hour. The dramatics continued into Monday night highly anticipated All-Star Game, when Toronto Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton scored his third goal of the night with 11.2 seconds remaining in regulation to give the West a 7-6 win and a sweep of the two-day event for the second consecutive year.
A dozen 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 ninth in the AHL in total attendance to date and is averaging 6,644 fans per game through the first 24 home games of the 2012-13 campaign.
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 Jan. 21, 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 5-1 win over Toronto last Friday, the Amerks have now won five straight and nine of their last 11 games played within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks boast a 16-7-0-1 record in their downtown venue, making them the third-best home team in the AHL, while their 16 wins are tied for tops in the league with Abbotsford, Binghamton and Portland.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks are 12-7-1-1 (26 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show a 12-9-1-0 (25 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 27 of the first 43 games of the campaign and show a 19-6-2-0 record when doing so, including a 12-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 19-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 13-0-0-0 mark at home. The Amerks are averaging 30.16 shots per game, the 15th-highest output among opponents.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
The Amerks have seen nine of their last 25 games decided by one goal dating back to a 4-3 setback at Toronto on Dec. 8. Rochester is 8-7-1-1 in 17 one-goal games this season after finishing the 2011-12 campaign with 42 such outings. Of those 17 one-goal decisions, seven have been determined in overtime or via the shootout, for a 5-0-1-1 mark.
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.
Alex Biega has six assists over his last nine games, including a helper in three straight games between 1/18 and 1/25… Despite being held scoreless in three straight appearances, Flynn has collected 12 points (6+6) through his last 16 games and hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… Porter, meanwhile, has 27 points (9+18) over his last 24 outings, including 10 points (3+7) in his last six, and has been held scoreless just three times in his last 13 showings… Evan Rankin has four points (2+2) in five games, and more impressively, has only been held scoreless just 14 times in 37 games this season… Mancari enters the matchup with 27 points (11+16) over his last 21 games, a stretch that featured a season-long five-game point streak from 12/19 to 12/28 and his first hat trick of the season last Friday against Toronto… More impressively, Mancari has posted nine games with multiple points during the same stretch, including four straight outings between back-to-back 1/21 and 2/02, recording nine points (3+6) over that span… Rookie forward Kevin Sundher has been hot as of late, scoring three goals and adding two assists over his last six games, including the game-winning goal in Rochester’s 5-3 win at Syracuse this past Saturday… Currently on recall with the Sabres, veteran defenseman Adam Pardy has three points (1+2) through his first five games with the team, all of which were wins.
Pardy, who registered an assist, two shots and earned 18:25 of ice time in his Sabres debut at Ottawa last night, is just nine games shy of 400 pro appearances… Adam is just four points away from reaching the century mark for his AHL career… Mancari is a mere two goals from reaching 200 in his pro career and needs another four points to reach 200 as an Amerk… Leggio, meanwhile, needs another three games to reach 200 career pro tilts.