TONIGHT’S GAME: Fresh off their recent four-game road swing, the red-hot Rochester Americans return home tonight as they take on the Houston Aeros in the first of just two meetings between the interconference rivals this season. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start at The Blue Cross Arena with all the action being carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: DON STEVENS WITH RON ROLSTON
2012-13 AHL STANDINGS 2012-13 NHL STANDINGS
ROCHESTER STATS BUFFALO STATS
HOUSTON STATS MINNESOTA STATS
FRIDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST
Last Game: Rochester at Lake Erie – 2/12/13
Rochester (4) at Lake Erie (1)
Goals: Roy, Varone (2, GWG), Crawford
Goalie(s): Leggio (31 saves/32 shots, 60:00)
Special Teams: PP: 1/1 --- PK: 3/3
Shots: Lake Erie 32 --- Rochester 26
PIM: Rochester 15 --- Lake Erie 11
3 Stars: 1. Leggio (RCH), 2. Varone (RCH), 3. Crawford (RCH)
HALL OF FAME NIGHT: Prior to the game, the Amerks will induct former team captain Dane Jackson and longtime sports anchor Rich Funke into the team's Hall of Fame during an on-ice ceremony as the organization welcomes the 53rd and 54th members of the exclusive club. Jackson, a native of Castlegar, British Columbia, played five seasons with the Amerks (1995-98, 1999-2001) and served as team captain of Rochester’s 1996 Calder Cup Championship team. In 246 career regular season games with the Amerks, Jackson recorded 170 points on 83 goals and 87 assists, along with 410 penalty minutes. He also registered 27 points (14+13) and 75 penalty minutes in 36 career postseason contests with Rochester. Funke, who recently retired from WHEC-TV after a 44-year career in broadcasting, is a longtime supporter of the Amerks who covered the team through three Calder Cup championships, including the 1987 finals in which he served as a member of the Amerks television broadcast team.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The 2011-12 campaign saw the Amerks and Aeros each post a win and combine for 16 goals throughout the two-game season series. After dropping a 4-3 decision to Houston at home on Dec. 2, the Amerks invaded the Toyota Center on Dec. 18, scoring five unanswered goals en route to a 6-3 rout to close out their three-game trek in Texas. Evan Rankin led all Amerks with a pair of goals in two games against the Aeros, while David Leggio went 1-1-0 and made 47 saves on 54 total shots faced. After tonight’s game, the teams are idle until late March when Rochester heads south for its annual trip across the Lone Star State.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (26-16-2-1, 55 points), kicking off a grueling stretch of five games in the next eight nights, enters the contest after wrapping up a successful four-game road trip with a 4-1 win over the North Division rival Lake Erie Monsters Tuesday morning at Quicken Loans Arena. Second-year forward Phil Varone posted a career-best four point-day as he factored in on all four Rochester goals, scoring two unassisted tallies and adding two assists, while Leggio’s 31-save effort earned him his seventh straight win between the pipes for the Amerks, who have won eight of nine and nine of their last 11 games. The game also featured the Amerks debut of veteran forward Matt Ellis, who earned 13:36 of ice time after clearing waivers earlier this week. Tuesday’s win over Lake Erie vaulted the Amerks into sixth place in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference standings, just two points behind Houston and four points out of first in the North Division. 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 (160) and goals-per-game (3.56), while outscoring their opposition 61-47 in the second period. Playing at nearly a point-per-game pace, team captain Kevin Porter paces the Amerks in points (43) and assists (28) and is one of just two skaters to appear in all 45 games this season. With 12 points (4+8) in his last seven games, including four different multi-point outings, Porter enters play tonight tied for sixth in scoring among the AHL top point-getters, while his 28 assists are seventh-most among league leaders. Leggio, who’s started 17 of the last 18 games for the Amerks and has won his last seven starts, leads all AHL netminders in wins (25), saves (1165), minutes played (2301:19) and games played (38).
HOUSTON NOTES: Houston (25-18-4-3, 57 points), currently in the middle of its season-long eight-game, 17-day road trip, comes into the matchup after a 2-1 shootout win over the Texas Stars Tuesday at Cedar Park Center. Caron McMillan scored the lone goal in regulation before Johan Larsson and Justin Fontaine each scored in the skills competition. Houston brings a three-game winning streak into play tonight, and even more impressively, has won its last six games on the road dating back to a 3-2 win over Milwaukee on Jan. 23. The Aeros outscored their opponents 18-7 over that span, which includes a pair of shutouts from goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who is currently on recall with Minnesota. With a 12-10-2-1 record, Houston is presently the AHL’s fourth-best team on the road having earned 12 of its 25 wins this season away from the Toyota Center. The Aeros come to the Flower City fueled by first-year forward Jason Zucker, who leads the team in all offensive categories in goals (19), assists (22) and points (41). Zucker, who represented Houston at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, currently ranks tied for 13th in scoring among league rookies and sits second overall in the AHL with 10 power-play goals. He also shows a league-best 172 shots on goal. Despite being up with the big club, the Aeros own the AHL’s second-best goaltender in Kuemper, who ranks second among league netminders with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. His four shutouts are also fourth among backstops while appearing in only 16 games this season for the Aeros. David McIntre is first on the team and seventh in the league with a +17 on-ice rating.
UP NEXT: The oldest rivalry in the AHL will be renewed on Sunday, Feb. 17 when the Amerks host the Hershey Bears in a battle of the league’s two oldest teams. The 3:05 p.m. contest marks the final get-together between the longtime foes this season and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- With 76 goals through their last 20 games, including 10 in their last two, the Amerks currently lead the league in goals for with 160. Rochester also leads the AHL in goals-per-game with 3.56. 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 12 games as the Amerks have converted on 12 of their 59 man-advantage opportunities, including seven times over the last seven games. The Amerks are third in the league with 44 power-play goals and own the second-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 31 of the first 45 games this season.
- Despite presently being on 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 12th in the league in that category. The special teams extraordinaire is also tied for 11th in the AHL with 12 power-play assists and leads all rearguards in power-play goals (7) and shorthanded goals (2) and ranks second in shots (132).
- Porter and Mancari, who are tied for sixth and 10th in scoring in the league, respectively, have combined for 25 multi-point outings between the two of them since the puck dropped in October. More impressively, the duo has also recorded at least one point in the same game in 23 out of 45 outings this season, including eight different occasions where they have each posted multiple points in the same game. Rochester is 19-3-1-0 when Porter and Mancari register a point in the same game.
- Coming off his three-point night at Abbotsford last Wednesday, Brian Flynn enters the contest eighth among AHL rookies with 32 points (16+16) in 42 games. The Amerks are 11-2-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
- Leggio, who’s started 17 of the last 18 games for the Amerks and has won his last seven starts, leads all AHL netminders in wins (25), saves (1165), minutes played (2301:19) and games played (38). He also boasts the third-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.
MANCARI MAKING HIS MARK
The return to Rochester has been quite the homecoming for Mancari, who is in the midst of what could perhaps be his best as an Amerk since joining the organization as a rookie for the 2005-06 campaign. Entering this season, the eight-year pro ranked 46th all-time in scoring among forwards in franchise history with 156 points (62+94) in 215 career games in the red, white and blue, but has since jumped to 30th on the list, surpassing some notable names like Dane Jackson, Scott Nichol and Jason Pominville along the way. With 42 points (15+27) in 45 games already this season, Mancari is now just two points shy of 200 as an Amerk, which will tie the mark Peter Ciavaglia set in his two seasons with Rochester.
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. With 25 wins to date, Leggio needs just another four victories to best his personal mark and is on pace to capture his first career 30-win season.
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 ob Feb. 1, the Amerks have now won five straight and nine of their last 11 games within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena, where it has outscored its opponents 84-64 in 24 games. 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 second to only Abbotsford’s league-high 18 home wins.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks are 14-7-1-1 (30 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 29 of the first 45 games of the campaign and show a 21-6-2-0 record when doing so, including a 12-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 21-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 13-0-0-0 mark at home. The Amerks are averaging 30.07 shots per game, the 15th-highest output among opponents.
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.
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.
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 11 games, including a helper in three straight games between 1/18 and 1/25… Flynn has collected 15 points (7+8) through his last 18 games and hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… Newcomer Patrick Rissmiller, who is just four games into his Professional Tryout, has five points (1+4) and a pair of multi-point performances since re-joining the Amerks on Feb. 2… Porter, meanwhile, has 30 points (10+20) over his last 26 outings, including 13 points (4+9) in his last eight, and has been held scoreless just four times in his last 14 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… Nick Crawford has been hot as of late, scoring two goals, both of which came on the power-play, and adding two assists in his last five appearances… Coming off his career-high four-point game (2+2) Tuesday at Lake Erie, Varone also shows five points (2+3) in his last five games… Mancari enters the matchup with 29 points (12+17) over his last 23 games, a stretch that featured a season-long five-game point streak from Dec. 19 to Dec. 28 and his first hat trick of the season against Toronto on Feb. 1… More impressively, Mancari has posted 10 games with multiple points during the same stretch, including four straight outings between Jan. 21 and Feb. 2, recording 11 points (4+7) over that span… Rookie forward Frederick Roy brings a three-game goal-scoring streak into tonight’s game, while fellow rookie Kevin Sundher has tallied six points (3+3) over his last eight games… Veteran defenseman Adam Pardy has three points (1+2) through his first six games with the team, all of which are wins.
Leggio will man the pipes for his 200th career game tonight against Houston… Pardy is eight games shy of 400 pro appearances… Adam is just two points away from reaching the century mark for his AHL career… Mancari’s next goal will be the 200th of his pro career and needs another two points to reach 200 as an Amerk.
Sweets in Your Seats – The Sweets in your Seats Valentine’s Day Pack includes two 100-Level premium tickets for the Amerks’ home game on Friday, Feb. 15 versus the Houston Aeros and a one-pound, handmade chocolate heart delivered to your seat, courtesy of Sweet Expressions, all for just $35.
Tim Hortons Discount Night – Tonight’s game falls on the third 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.