Tonight’s Game: The playoff bound Rochester Americans officially bring the 2013-14 regular season to a close this afternoon when they travel north of the border for one final go-around with the North Division-champion Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. The 3:00 p.m. contest will be the 10th and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
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
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF PRIMER
Head-to-Head: Today’s matchup brings the North Division foes together for the second time in eight days and for the fourth straight week with Rochester leading the season series as a result of back-to-back wins over the Marlies, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Amerks’ last visit to Toronto back on April 5. Rochester also posted a win in the most recent get-together between the two teams that saw the Amerks score twice in the third period and hang on for the 3-1 win. Luke Adam leads the Amerks with nine points (3+6) in seven games against the Marlies this season, while Brayden Irwin, who factored in on all four Rochester goals two Saturdays ago, has five points in five games against his former team.
Amerks Notes: Rochester (37-27-6-5, 85 points) enters the final day of the regular season having officially punched its ticket to the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs and is coming off a 5-1 rout of the Syracuse Crunch in last night’s regular season home finale at The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and used another spectacular showing between the pipes from rookie goaltender Andrey Makarov, who was making his 10th consecutive start in goal for Rochester. Makarov turned aside 22 of Syracuse’s 23 shots, earning his seventh straight win while pushing Rochester’s point streak to eight straight games. The first-year goaltender has allowed just one goal in three of his last four games and hasn’t allowed more than three goals in each of his 10 starts. He enters play this afternoon with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage over his personal and season-long seven-game winning streak. After dropping nine straight games to close out the month of March, Rochester has yet to lose in regulation this month, going 7-0-0-1 through its first eight games of April and having claimed 13 out of a possible 14 points down the final stretch to advance to the postseason for the third straight year. With two more points (1+1) in last night’s win over the Crunch, Irwin now has 13 points (5+8) in the last nine games, including a season-high four assists in a 4-3 win at Toronto on April 5. Tim Schaller, meanwhile, has notched seven (5+2) of his 16 points on the season over the last six outings while team captain Kevin Porter has scored a goal in four of the last seven games. Adam currently ranks sixth in the AHL with 29 goals on the season, which include a team-best 16 power-play tallies, and should he find the back of the net again today, will become Rochester’s first 30-goal scorer since the 2004-05 campaign. Phil Varone, who enters play tonight with 10 points (4+6) over his last eight games, presently ranks seventh in the AHL with 43 assists and is tied for 12th among the league’s top scorers with a team-high 61 points. The third-year pro has also amassed 23 of his 43 helpers this season on the power-play, good for seventh in the league in that category. Rookie forward Mikhail Grigorenko has collected four assists in his first eight games with the Amerks.
Toronto Notes: Toronto (44-25-2-4, 94 points), returning home from a five-game road swing today, comes into the matchup after seeing its brief two-game win streak halted in a 3-2 loss to the Utica Comets last night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Despite the loss, the Marlies have claimed the North Division crown for the third straight year and will make their third straight trip to the postseason. Led by first-year head coach Steve Spott, Toronto owns two of the league’s top six scorers in AHL All-Stars Spencer Abbott and T.J. Brennan. One of the more elite offensive pairings in the AHL, Brennan (72 points) and Abbott (69 points) enter the weekend ranked third and sixth in league scoring, respectively. In addition to leading the Marlies with a career-high 25 goals, the most from any defenseman since 2002-03, Brennan also continues to pace all blueliners in points (72), goals (25), assists (47) and power-play points (44), while ranking first overall with 263 shots on goal. 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. Abbott, meanwhile, currently ranks second in the league with 52 assists and his season-long 13-game point streak (1+18) to open the season still stands as the second-longest in the AHL.
Up Next: Finishing as the seventh seed in the Western Conference for the third straight year, the Amerks open the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday, April 25 against either the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins or Chicago Wolves in Game 1 of the best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals at The Blue Cross Arena. Individual game tickets for Round One of the postseason will be available at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office, online at Amerks.com, or by calling 1-855-Go-Amerks.