TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rochester Americans enter the final month of the regular season tonight as they look to stay undefeated against the Lake Erie Monsters in a North Division showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the sixth and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: CHADD CASSIDY WITH DON STEVENS
2012-13 AHL STANDINGS 2012-13 NHL STANDINGS
ROCHESTER STATS BUFFALO STATS
LAKE ERIE STATS COLORADO STATS
FRIDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST
2013 CALDER CUP PLAYOFF PRIMER
Last Game: Rochester at Hamilton – 3/30/13
Rochester (4) vs. Hamilton (2)
Goals: Rankin (2), Gauthier-Leduc (GWG), Ellis
Goalie(s): Leggio (22 saves/23 shots, 40:00)
Special Teams: PP: 0/2 --- PK: 3/3
Shots: Hamilton 36 --- Rochester 30
PIM: Rochester 8 --- Hamilton 6
3 Stars: 1. Rankin (RCH), 2. Vail (HAM), 3. Leggio (RCH)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Amerks have claimed all five meetings with Lake Erie this season and have outscored their North Division rivals 26-16 throughout the season series thus far. Rochester defeated Lake Erie 4-2 in the team’s most recent get-together back on March 3 at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Amerks scored twice in the second period before Maxime Legault added a pair of his own in the third as Rochester remained unbeaten against the Monsters and improved to 10-1-0-0 in its last 11 games against Lake Erie dating back to last season. Amerks goaltender David Leggio has manned the pipes for each game versus the Monsters, boasting a perfect 5-0-0 record to go along with a 3.18 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
AMERKS NOTES: Rochester (37-26-3-1, 78 points) enters the contest coming off a 4-2 come-from-behind win over the Hamilton Bulldogs this past Saturday at Copps Coliseum. Facing a 2-0 deficit going into the third period, the Amerks scored four unanswered goals, including three in a span of 3:25, to rally for the win. Evan Rankin, playing just his second game back with the Amerks after an injury sidelined him for 22 games, jumpstarted the rally with a pair of goals 2:24 apart while Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and Matt Ellis also scored for Rochester, which has won five of its last seven games. The Amerks, who will play their remaining nine games over three straight three-in-three weekends, enter tonight’s game in sole possession of fifth place in the Western Conference, where eight points is all that separates the Amerks from the seven teams below them, including Lake Erie, which has played three more games than Rochester. Mark Mancari, who has registered 15 points (5+10) over his last 16 games, leads the Amerks in all offensive categories in goals (20), assists (38) and points (58) and enters the matchup tied for seventh in scoring among the AHL’s top point-getters. He also ranks fifth among league leaders in assists, which includes the third-most on the power-play with 18. His 246 shots on goal are also tops in the AHL. David Leggio has appeared in 57 of the Amerks’ 67 games so far this season and has a record of 35-21-1, marking just the seventh time in the franchise’s 57-year history that a Rochester goaltender has won at least 35 games in a season. The fifth-year pro continues to lead all AHL netminders in wins (35), saves (1765), minutes (3433:09) and shots against (1910), while ranking fifth with a .924 save percentage and tied for seventh with four shutouts.
LAKE ERIE NOTES: Lake Erie (30-30-3-7, 70 points), wrapping up a five-game road swing tonight, comes into the matchup fresh off its 3-2 overtime win over the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies Wednesday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum. Thomas Pock scored late in the third period to force overtime before Mike Connolly needed just 21 seconds into the extra frame to help the Monsters snap a brief two-game skid. Lake Erie also finished the contest going 2-for-2 on the power-play, snapping a streak of three straight games without a goal on the man-advantage, while the Monsters’ penalty kill was also flawless, making them 17-for-18 on the man-down over their last five games. At 17-15-1-3, the Monsters are the AHL’s seventh-best team on the road having earned more than half of their wins and points away from downtown Cleveland. Lake Erie, however, is 3-21-0-2 when trailing after two periods, the second-worst mark in the AHL in that category. The Monsters are led offensively by a pair of rookie forwards in Andrew Agozzino (18+29) and Mike Sgarbossa (19+25), who have combined for 91 points and rank fourth and sixth in scoring among AHL freshmen, respectively.
UP NEXT: Rochester begins its two-game weekend swing through the Northeast Division on Saturday, April 6 when its travels east down the I-90 to face-off with the Adirondack Phantoms at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the fourth and final meeting between the intrastate rivals this season and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- With 39 goals through their last 15 games, including 33 in their last 12, the Amerks are currently sixth in the AHL in goals for with 208, 14 shy of Syracuse’s league-leading 222 tallies. Rochester is also fifth in the league in goals-per-game, averaging 3.10.
- Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most effective in the league over the last 32 games as the Amerks have converted on 26 of their 135 man-advantage opportunities. The Amerks currently rank fifth in the AHL with 58 power-play goals and have the fourth-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 20.5% efficiency rate. Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 42 of the first 67 games this season.
- The Amerks also own the top penalty kill in the AHL, successfully killing off 235 of 268 short-handed situations for an 87.7% efficiency rate, including 116 of 128 at home for a league-best 90.6% success rate. Rochester is 10-for-10 on the penalty kill over its last four games and has also allowed a league-low 33 power-play goals against.
- With 15 points (5+10) through his last 16 games, Mancari leads the Amerks in all offensive categories in goals (20), assists (38) and points (58) and enters the contest tied for seventh in scoring among the AHL’s top point-getters. Mancari also ranks fifth among league leaders in assists, including the third-most on the power-play with 18. His 246 shots on goal are also tops in the AHL, 25 more than the next closest player.
- Brayden McNabb ranks fourth and seventh among AHL defensemen in assists (31) and points (36), respectively, and has since set new career-highs in each category. McNabb also paces all blueliners with three short-handed assists.
- The duo of Mancari and Kevin Porter, who is currently on recall with the Sabres, have combined for 30 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 of 67 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.
- Also presently on recall with the big club is rookie forward Brian Flynn, who enters the weekend ranked among the AHL’s top scoring rookies with 32 points (16+16) in 45 games. The Amerks are 11-2-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.
- Newly acquired forward Johan Larsson, who came to Buffalo yesterday along with goaltender Matt Hackett in a trade that sent Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild, is 13th in scoring among the league freshmen after recording 37 points (15+22) in 62 games with the AHL’s Houston Aeros this season. He could potentially make his Amerks debut tonight against the Monsters.
- Leggio, who’s won three of his last four starts, continues to lead all AHL netminders in wins (35), saves (1765), minutes played (3433:09), shots faced (1910), while ranking fifth with a .924 save percentage and tied for seventh with four shutouts . He also boasts the second-best shootout record (7-1) among goaltenders, having stopped 35 of 45 shooters for a .778 save percentage. Leggio is 18-3 all-time in AHL shootouts and has won 11 of his last 13, including a pair of shootout victories over Rochester’s recent five-game road trip.
LEGGIO NAMED TOP GOALTENDER FOR MARCH
The American Hockey League announced today that Leggio has been selected as the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March. Leggio went 9-4-0 with a 1.86 goals-against average, a .946 save percentage and two shutouts, allowing two goals or fewer in 11 of his 13 appearances during the month. Leggio began March by snapping a personal four-game losing streak with a 35-save outing in a 2-1 overtime win at Syracuse on Mar. 2. He made 38 stops in defeating Lake Erie, 4-2, on Mar. 3, and his 44 saves in a 5-0 win over Abbotsford on Mar. 8 were the most in a shutout by any AHL goaltender this season. Leggio won his fifth straight game in a 3-1 decision over Binghamton on Mar. 13, and made at least 36 saves in four consecutive starts from Mar. 22-29, including a 38-save shutout of Syracuse on Mar. 27.
LEGGIO’S CAREER YEAR LEADING THE WAY… AGAIN
A year after single-handedly guiding the Amerks into the postseason, Leggio is again having another big year between the pipes for Rochester and making a strong bid to repeat as team MVP. The 2012-13 campaign has already seen the fifth-year netminder capture his third straight 20-win season, but Leggio has since added some more career achievements to an already impressive resume. The Williamsville, NY, native was nearly flawless in a recent two-game sweep of the Abbotsford Heat, beginning with a 44-save shutout on March 8 that produced his career-high 29th win of the season, besting the 28 victories he set a year ago with the Amerks. Leggio followed that up with another brilliant effort, stopping 35 shots in regulation before denying seven of 10 shooters in a rematch against the Heat two days later that garnered his first career 30-win season. He became the first Amerks netminder to post 30 wins in a single season since Ryan Miller’s incredible 41 victories during Rochester’s historic 2004-05 campaign. Leggio, yet again, turned in another memorable performance last Wednesday against Syracuse when he steered aside all 38 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, matching the career-high he set during the 2008-09 campaign with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. Most recently, he became just the seventh goaltender in franchise history to record 35 wins after making 22 saves in relief effort at Hamilton on Saturday. He enters the weekend having already set new AHL career-highs in all goaltending categories, including goals-against average (2.53), save percentage (.924), wins (35), saves (1765), shutouts (4), minutes (3433:09) and games played (57). Since Feb. 22, 2012, Leggio has started 82 of Rochester’s 93 regular-season and playoff games and has earned 48 of the team’s 50 wins. With nine games remaining, he could challenge the AHL record for saves in a season (2,005), established by Mike O’Neill with the Baltimore Bandits in 1995-96.
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 season as an Amerk since joining the organization as a rookie for the 2005-06 campaign. Entering this year, the eight-year pro ranked 46th all-time in scoring amongst forwards in franchise history with 156 points (62+94) in 215 career games in the red, white and blue, but has since climbed to 24th on the list, surpassing some notable names like Dane Jackson, Scott Nichol, Jason Pominville and most recently, Wally Boyer, along the way. Mancari added another personal milestone at Toronto on Feb. 27, scoring his 200th pro career goal and recording his 200th point as an Amerk. With two assists at Oklahoma City on March 19, Mancari reached the 57-point mark for the third straight season with the Amerks, a feat he also accomplished during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns in Rochester.
THE STREAK CONTINUES
With the lone goal in the Amerks’ 2-1 loss to Texas on March 22, Mancari became the first Amerk this season to net 20 goals on the way to posting his seventh consecutive 20-goal season over his eight-year professional career. In doing so, Mancari continues Rochester’s 57-year tradition of having at least one player from each season since the team’s inception in 1956 to score 20 or more goals, a streak that was sparked by Bronco Horvath’s team-leading 37 tallies during the Amerks’ inaugural 1956-57 campaign.
Over the first two and a half years of his professional career, defenseman Alex Biega played in 21 shootout games and was never called on to attempt a shot. That changed earlier last month, and Biega’s prowess has brought the Amerks valuable standings points down the stretch. On March 10, Rochester turned to Biega in the bottom of the 10th round of a marathon shootout vs. Abbotsford, and the third-year blueliner snapped a shot home to give Rochester the win. On March 19, Biega got the call in the fifth round and netted the only goal of the shootout, sending the Amerks to victory in Oklahoma City. And on March 23 in Houston, Biega’s goal in the last half of the fifth round made Rochester triumphant again – and made him 3-for-3 with three game-winners, putting him behind only Grand Rapids’ Chad Billins for tops in the AHL in shootout efficiency, while improving the Amerks to 7-1 in shootouts this season.
TWICE IS NICE
The goaltending tandem of Nathan Lieuwen and David Leggio combined to give the Amerks back-to-back shutout wins for the first time in over a decade last week during a shutout streak that kept opponents off the scoreboard for 180:10. After Lieuwen stonewalled the Rampage with 39 saves in San Antonio on March 24, Leggio followed up with an equally impressive outing of his own with a 38-save shutout of Syracuse on March 27. It would mark the first time Rochester earned consecutive shutout victories since the 2002-03 season when former Amerks netminder Mika Noronen single-handedly posted back-to-back shutouts as part of a two-game sweep of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 in southern Ohio.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
The end of the NHL lockout may have meant the departure of several key components to Rochester’s offense, but the recent flurry of roster moves has certainly been beneficial for the Amerks. Aside from the season-long mainstays in Mancari and Nick Tarnasky, the latest additions of high-end forwards Patrick Rissmiller, Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick give the Amerks five active veterans in the lineup for the first time this season while providing stability and plenty of leadership. Along with established defenseman Adam Pardy, who was recalled earlier this week for his third NHL stint with the Sabres, Rochester’s veteran class has combined for over 1,200 man games in the NHL, including 329 from McCormick, and has totaled 113 points (46+67) for the Amerks in 2012-13.
LENDING A HAND
The Amerks have had a total of seven players make the 75-mile trek west down Interstate 90 to Buffalo this season with third-year forward Luke Adam being the most recent to join the Sabres on recall. In addition to Adam, Buffalo has also required the services of forwards Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson, Kevin Porter and Brian Flynn along with defensemen T.J. Brennan and Mark Pysyk, who all began the season in Rochester. The group has totaled 56 points (24+32) in 123 combined games with the Sabres. Buffalo has also sent reinforcements to Rochester in the form of veteran forwards McCormick and Ellis as well as defenseman Pardy, all of whom have also seen time with the Sabres this season.
HOME, SWEET HOME
Home-ice advantage has certainly been beneficial this season for the Amerks, who have won 13 of their last 21 games within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena, outscoring their opponents 103-90 in 34 total games. Rochester boasts a 20-13-0-1 record in their downtown venue, making them the 13th-best home team in the AHL. Conversely, Rochester is 17-13-3-0 on the road and has won three straight and eight of its last 13 games away from Western New York.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
The Amerks have seen 10 of their last 17 games decided by one goal dating back to a 3-2 setback at Hamilton on Feb 22. Rochester is 13-11-3-1 in 28 one-goal games this season after finishing the 2011-12 campaign with 42 such outings. Of those 28 one-goal decisions, 12 have been determined in overtime or via the shootout, for an 8-0-3-1 mark.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks are 19-11-1-1 (40 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show an 18-15-2-0 (38 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 41 of the first 67 games of the campaign and show a 29-10-2-0 record when doing so, including a 16-4-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 29-1-1-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 17-0-0-0 mark at home.
ROLSTON MOVES UP TO NHL
The Buffalo Sabres promoted former Amerks head coach Ron Rolston to serve as their interim head coach for the remainder of the 2012-13 season. Rolston replaced Lindy Ruff, the all-time winningest coach in Sabres history and longest tenured coach in the NHL, who was relieved of his duties after 16 years behind the Buffalo bench. Rolston became the 16th coach in franchise history after compiling a 63-56-5 regular-season record over 1 ½ seasons with the Amerks, who he led to the Calder Cup Playoffs in just his first season as an American Hockey League coach. He officially made his NHL coaching debut in Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 21 at the Air Canada Centre and earned his first win in the Sabres’ 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26. His biggest win as Sabres head coach came in Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat of the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins, who came into the game with the NHL’s second-longest winning streak of 15 straight victories. Rolston is 8-8-4 since taking over for Ruff on Feb. 20.
CASSIDY APPOINTED HEAD COACH IN ROCHESTER
The exit of Rolston to Buffalo meant the elevation of Amerks assistant coach Chadd Cassidy as the new bench boss in Rochester. Cassidy, who previously worked alongside Rolston for five seasons at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, became the 30th head coach in Amerks history and the first to take over the position as a midseason replacement since John Van Boxmeer was appointed the title midway through the 1984-85 season when he took over for Jim Schoenfield. Cassidy made his American Hockey League head coaching debut in Rochester’s 5-1 loss to the Texas Stars on Feb. 20 and earned his first win in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Syracuse Crunch on March 2. Cassidy is 10-8-1-0 since his promotion to head coach and guided the Amerks to a 10-4-1-0 record through the month of March.
Ellis has been Rochester’s most consistent performer as of late, scoring a goal in six of his last 12 games and collecting four points (2+2) over his last five… Forward Corey Tropp, who made his much anticipated return to the lineup last weekend, made an immediate impact by notching two assists and has registered points in each of his first three games (2+2) this season… Mancari, who recently strung together an eight-game point streak, comes into the matchup with 15 points (5+10) over his last 16 games and has collected 45 points (17+28) over his last 45 games… The same stretch featured an additional five-game point streak from Dec. 19 to Dec. 28 and his first hat trick of the season against Toronto on Feb. 1… Flynn has collected 15 points (7+8) through his last 20 games and hasn’t gone longer than five games this season without a point… Rissmiller, who signed an AHL contract with the Amerks last Wednesday, has collected five assists over his last eight games and shows 11 points (2+9) and a pair of multi-point performances since re-joining the Amerks on Feb. 2… Porter, though presently being on recall with Buffalo, has 31 points (10+21) over his last 29 outings, including 14 points (4+10) in his last 11, and has been held scoreless just six times in his last 16 showings… Rankin, who also returned to action over the weekend from a 23-game absence, scored twice in a span of 2:24 at Hamilton last Saturday to help the Amerks rally from a two-goal deficit… Coming off his game-winning goal last Wednesday against Syracuse, Rick Schofield has two points (1+1) in his last three games and Tarnasky, meanwhile, has four points (2+2) in his last five games, including goals in back-to-back outings.
Pysyk registered his first NHL point with an assist in Buffalo’s 4-1 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday… Porter also scored his first two goals as a Sabre in the game, including one short-handed marker… Lieuwen earned his first AHL victory and shutout when he stopped all 39 shots in Rochester’s 3-0 win at San Antonio on March 24… The same game also saw Tarnasky set a new career-high for goals in a season with his 15th of the campaign… Pysyk made his NHL debut against the Washington Capitals on March 17, recording one shot and 14:55 ice time… Ellis skated in his 700th professional game at Toronto on March 16 and is a mere two points shy of the 300-mark for his pro career… Mancari, who is the only player to appear in every game thus far this season, is slated to dress in his 600th professional game Sunday at Albany and needs another 10 points to reach the 500-point benchmark … Porter needs just another two assists to reach the century mark for his pro career… Rankin needs another five games to reach 300 for his pro career… Brayden McNabb appeared in his 100th game as an Amerk at Binghamton on March 9… Adam registered the 100th point of his AHL career with a goal at Lake Erie on March 3… Flynn made his NHL debut in the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on March 2, earning 8:50 of ice time… The same game also represented the 400th professional appearance for Pardy… Mancari scored the 200th goal of his pro career at Toronto on Feb. 27, becoming the 30th player in franchise history to record 200 points with the Amerks.
AMERKS POINTS OF INTEREST
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 ninth-largest crowd for a single game in American Hockey League history and the fifth-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.
More than a dozen different crowds of 7,500+ fans in attendance have taken in an Amerks game this season, including eight 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 10th in the AHL in total attendance to date and is averaging 6,317 fans per game through the first 33 home games of the 2012-13 campaign.
2013 ALL-STAR CLASSIC RECAP
Amerks defenseman Brayden McNabb became 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 as the Western Conference All-Stars earned a 12-11 win over their Eastern Conference counterparts in the 2013 AHL All-Star Skills Competition. McNabb also became just the second Amerk to top 100 miles per hour in the event, finishing behind current teammate Mark Mancari, whose blast of 102.8 during in 2008 is still an AHL record.
2012 IN REVIEW
Several Amerks players finished atop the AHL’s regular-season scoring leaders during the 2012 calendar year, including McNabb, who finished 10th in scoring among league blueliners with 37 points (6+31). 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.
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.
$5 Parking Night - Tonight's game represents the final $5 Parking Night in the Civic Center Garage this season. The $5 price marks a savings of $2.50 off the regular price of parking in the Civic Center Garage.
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.
Zweigle’s Family 4-Pack – For just $48, fans can purchase four lower level tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for select remaining Amerks regular season home games.
Moe's Hot Players - Tonight's Moe's Hot Players are Evan Rankin, Nick Tarnsaky and Maxime Legault. If any of these Amerks players score a goal tonight, your roster card is worth 50% off your order the following day at any participating Moe’s restaurants. If one of those players scores a hat trick, bring your roster card to any participating Moe’s restaurant the next day and receive a free burrito. Eat at Moe’s!