Colin Stuart and Jonathan Parker each scored power-play goals, but it was not enough as the Rochester Americans dropped their 2011-12 American Hockey League season opener 5-2 to the Hamilton Bulldogs tonight at Copps Coliseum.
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Brock Trotter had his hand in four of Hamilton’s five goals and Frederic St. Denis also provided a pair of goals to give the Bulldogs their first win of the new season. Goaltender Nathan Lawson earned his first win of the season, stopping 30 of 32 shots, while Rochester’s David Leggio made several outstanding saves between the pipes in the 22-save losing effort.
Despite the loss, Rochester’s power-play demonstrated its efficiency tonight, scoring both goals on the man-advantage.
St. Denis opened the scoring midway through the first period, slipping a shot past Leggio from the left-wing circle for his first of the season at 10:15. Forwards Aaron Palushaj and Trotter both earned assists on the play to help the Bulldogs establish a lead they would not relinquish.
The Bulldogs quickly turned their one-goal lead into a three-goal cushion with back-to-back power-play tallies just 75 seconds apart, starting with St. Denis’ second goal of the contest just 3:40 into the second stanza. Following three consecutive penalties to the Amerks, Hamilton capitalized on its two-man advantage opportunity as St. Denis converted on a one-timer from Trotter, this time from the top of right-wing circle, for his second of the night.
Trotter put the hometown Bulldogs up 3-0 with his first of the season at 4:55, finishing a nifty give-and-go with Mike Blunden from the left corner with a quick shot over the glove of Leggio. Palushaj also earned his second assist of the night on the goal.
Newcomer Jonathan Parker, fresh off signing an NHL contract with the parent Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, put the Amerks on the board with his first professional goal on the power-play, swatting in a rebound from the goal-mouth at 10:59 to make it a 3-1 game. Forward Zack Kassian recorded his first pro point with an assist and Rochester native Derek Whitmore collected his first point of the season in his first game back in the red, white and blue.
Hamilton would quickly regain its three-goal lead, however, as Ian Schultz’s attempted pass through traffic was inadvertently deflected through the five-hole of Leggio off the stick of Amerks defenseman Dennis Persson. The goal, at 13:44, would be credited to Schultz as the Bulldogs took a 4-1 lead heading into the final frame.
Trotter gave Hamilton’s its largest lead of the night 5:24 into the third period, capitalizing on a penalty shot for his second goal of the game and fourth point of the night to give the Bulldogs a 5-1 advantage.
Stuart added a late third-period power-play tally with help from Corey Tropp and T.J. Brennan, but the Bulldogs were able to cling to their three-goal lead for the win.
Rochester’s 2011-12 Home Opener is set for Thursday, October 13 as it hosts the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. Prior to the game, fans are invited to re-live the storied history of the Rochester Americans franchise as more than 40 Amerks alumni walk the red carpet in celebration of the Amerks’ reunion with the Buffalo Sabres. The collection of former players and coaches will then be introduced on the ice during a pre-game ceremony.
Rochester is now 27-22-7 all-time in regular season openers and have outscored their opponents 208-189… The Amerks went 2-for-5 on the power-play, while Hamilton scored on two of its four man-up opportunities… The game featured the AHL coaching debut of newly appointed bench boss Ron Rolston, in addition to seven rookies making their pro debuts, including defenseman Brayden McNabb and forwards Phil Varone, Shawn Szydlowski, Jonathan Parker, Riley Boychuk, Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno… Colin Stuart sported the “C” tonight for the Amerks, while defenseman Alex Biega and forward Derek Whitmore were the “As”