Today’s Game: The Rochester Americans conclude their three-game road swing this morning as the Amerks travel north of the border to take on the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies in their annual school day game at Ricoh Coliseum. The special 11:00 a.m. contest will be just the sixth of 10 scheduled meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on WBER 90.5 FM.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
2013-14 AHL STANDINGS 2013-14 NHL STANDINGS
2013-14 ROCHESTER STATS 2013-14 BUFFALO STATS
2013-14 TORONTO STATS 2013-14 MAPLE LEAFS STATS
Head-to-Head: Today’s divisional showdown falls in the middle of a stretch in which Amerks and Marlies will face off with each other five times over the final four weeks of the regular season, including one more get-together set for later this week and each of the next three weekends. The Amerks are 3-1-1-0 against Toronto this season and have claimed seven out of a 10 possible points after dropping a 2-1 overtime decision in the latest encounter with the Marlies 11 days ago back in Rochester. Luke Adam leads the Amerks with six points (2+4) in four games against Toronto this season, while Mike Zigomanis shows four points (2+2) against his former team, including the game-winning goal in his return to Toronto on Oct. 26.
Amerks Notes: Rochester (30-24-6-4, 70 points) enters the contest looking to snap a season-long six-game winless skid after being shutout for the second straight game in a 3-0 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters to close out a weekend set Sunday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena. Goaltender Connor Knapp, recalled from the ECHL’s Alaska Aces on Monday of last week, stopped 21 of 24 shots in his second straight start for the Amerks, while newcomer Blake Kessel made his Rochester debut since joining the team on a professional tryout on Friday. The weekend’s pair of losses marked the first time in nearly two years the Amerks, who are now scoreless through their last 124:13 of play, were blanked in back-to-back outings since March 31 and April 3, 2012, losing 1-0 to Toronto and 4-0 to Abbotsford, respectively. Despite their recent struggles, however, the Amerks have earned points in 10 of their last 16 games, including eight of their last nine at home, and remain alive in the playoff race with a three-point lead over Charlotte and Oklahoma City for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, which saw Texas become the first team to advance to the postseason party. The Amerks also have a game in hand of both the Checkers and Barons, who are currently tied for ninth, with just 12 games remaining in the regular season. Adam currently ranks fifth in the AHL with 27 goals on the season, which include a league-best 15 power-play tallies, and is on pace to best his career-high of 29 and become Rochester’s first 30-goal scorer since Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both reached the mark during the 2004-05 campaign. Second-year forward Johan Larsson remains Rochester’s most consistent point-getter since his reassignment to the Amerks on Jan. 11, showing 31 points (13+18) over his last 31 games. With a team-high 50 points in 57 games this season, leading point-getter Phil Varone is already within two points of matching his career-high and presently ranks 11th in the AHL in assists (36) and 17th in points (50).
Toronto Notes: Toronto (38-20-2-3, 81 points), wrapping up a three-game homestand this morning, comes into the matchup having won four of its last five games following a 3-2 victory over the Abbotsford Heat Sunday on home ice. Josh Leivo’s 18th goal of the season with 2:26 remaining in the third period broke a 2-2 tie and secured the win for the Marlies, who own a comfortable 11-point lead over the Amerks and are currently among the top three teams in the Western Conference. Led by first-year head coach Steve Spott, Toronto owns two of the league’s top five scorers in AHL All-Stars Spencer Abbott and T.J. Brennan. One of the more elite offensive pairings in the AHL, Abbott (68 points) and Brennan (62 points) enter the week ranked second and fifth in league scoring, respectively. In addition to leading the Marlies with a career-high 21 goals, Brennan also continues to pace all blueliners in points (62), goals (21), power-play points (41), shots (219) and game-winning goals (4). Brennan opened the campaign with an impressive 12 points (8+4) through his first five games, including two hat tricks and a pair of four-point games over that span. The former Amerk played the last two seasons in Rochester, nearly tying the franchise record for the most goals scored by a defenseman in a single season in 2012-13. Abbott currently leads the league with 52 assists and his 13-game point streak (1+18) to open the season stands as the second-longest in the AHL to date. Currently on recall with the parent Toronto Maple Leafs, former Amerk netminder Drew MacIntyre has been the go-to guy for the Marlies his season, having played 44 of Toronto's 63 games. He enters play today ranked second in the AHL in saves (1,222), minutes played (2,624) and wins (25).
Up Next: Rochester begins a four-game homestand on Wednesday, March 26 when the Milwaukee Admirals make their only appearance of the season at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the second and final meeting between the interconference rivals this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK. Wednesday’s game will also be just the 14th all-time meeting between the two teams and the first time in over seven years the Amerks hosted the Admirals in Rochester. Milwaukee’s last visit to Western New York saw the Admirals, led by former All-Star Pekka Rinne, escape town with a 4-3 overtime win back on Nov. 22, 2006.