The Rochester Americans enter the AHL All-Star break on a winning note, defeating the divisional rival Toronto Marlies for the first time this season by a score of 2-1 at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The win brings the Amerks to within five points of first-place Toronto for the top spot in the North Division with one game in hand.
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Derek Whitmore’s tally late in the first period proved to be the game-winner as the two clubs combined to score all three goals within the opening 20 minutes of the contest. All-Star forward Zack Kassian began the scoring for Rochester and David Leggio was spectacular in goal, turning aside 37 of 38 Marlies shots.
Mike Zigomanis scored the lone goal for Toronto in the loss, while netminder Ben Scrivens finished with 25 saves between the pipes.
The Amerks got on the board first just over six minutes into the opening frame when Kassian lit the lamp for the eleventh time this season. After taking an in-stride pass in the neutral zone from Paul Szczechura, Kassian beat Scrivens with a far-side wrister just under the crossbar from the right circle. Szczechura’s assist on the play represented the 100th of his AHL career while Marcus Foligno also picked up a helper.
Rochester doubled its lead to 2-0 at 17:01 as Whitmore netted his team-leading 17th of the season and second in three games. Off the rush, the team’s top scorer sent a floating wrister toward the net from the left-wing half boards that found its way behind Scrivens.
The Marlies responded with just 34 seconds remaining in the opening period to cut the Amerks’ lead in half and make the score 2-1. A centering feed from behind the net was batted down out of mid-air by Zigomanis past Leggio for his 11th goal of the season.
Leggio stood tall in the Amerk crease over the final 40 minutes in stopping all 25 shots sent his way to secure the one-goal victory.
The Amerks return home after the 2012 AHL All-Star break on Thursday, February 2 for the first of back-to-back tilts with the Abbotsford Heat at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the first of four scheduled meetings this season between the former division rivals and will be carried live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk. The game also falls on the second Seneca Casinos Legends Night, featuring Buffalo Sabres captain and former Amerk Jason Pominville. The NHL All-Star will sign autographs prior to the game and drop the ceremonial first puck.