Despite seeing the highly anticipated return of forwards Michael Ryan and Corey Tropp to the lineup, the Rochester Americans fell to the Toronto Marlies by a score of 4-3 in a Wednesday afternoon matinee at Ricoh Coliseum. The loss increased the Marlies’ cushion atop the North Division to six points over the Amerks, who remain in second place as the rival clubs met for the sixth of 10 meetings this season.
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Zack Kassian netted two goals for Rochester in the contest, while Brayden McNabb provided a pair of assists. Ryan and Tropp were also able to find the scoresheet as they each contributed an assist in their first action since October 14 and January 8, respectively. Maxime Legault also tallied a goal for the Amerks and David Leggio turned away 21 of 25 shots between the pipes.
Nicolas Deschamps and Korbinian Holzer each finished with two assists for Toronto, while the club received goals from Ryan Hamilton, Kelsey Wilson, Joe Colborne, and Matt Frattin. Netminder Ben Scrivens made 17 saves to earn his third consecutive victory.
The Marlies got on the board first midway through the opening period, finding the back of the net just seconds after a Rochester penalty had expired. Hamilton cashed in with his team-leading 18th goal of the season after finishing off a backhand feed from Marcel Mueller at the top of the crease
Toronto doubled its lead to 2-0 just over three minutes later at the 14:11 mark. Stationed in the low slot, Wilson redirected a shot-pass from Philippe Dupuis off the left-wing boards that found its way past Leggio.
Kassian got the Amerks on the board 1:43 into the middle frame with his 12th of the year to cut the deficit to 2-1. After his initial bid from the left circle was denied by Scrivens, Kassian jumped on his own rebound and deposited it behind the Marlies backstop. Ryan and McNabb each recorded an assist on the goal.
The Marlies restored their two-goal cushion at 3:07 of the final period as Colborne snuck a backhander between Leggio’s pad and the post from below the right face-off circle.
Rochester battled back once again to make the score 3-2 at 11:44 as Legault finished off a perfectly executed line rush. As Travis Turnbull gained entrance into the Toronto zone, he left a pass for Tropp, who then immediately setup Legault streaking through the slot to bury his fourth of the season. The goal would represent Legault’s third point in five games while Turnbull pushed his current point streak to four games with an assist on the play.
Toronto quickly responded less than three minutes later with a power-play goal to extend its advantage to 4-2 as Frattin sent a hard wrister through a screen and straight to the top corner of the Rochester net.
Kassian netted his second of the afternoon with four seconds remaining in regulation, deflecting a centering pass off the stick of Marcus Foligno into the vacant net from the doorstep of the Toronto net. The 2012 AHL All-Star has now found the back of the net four times in his last five games. With the assist on the play, Foligno extended his point-scoring streak to five games and McNabb now shows five assists in his first four games back with the Amerks.
Rochester returns home on Friday, February 10 to host the inaugural visit from the West Division Texas Stars to The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:35 p.m. contest will be the second and final gathering of the season between the interconference rivals and will be carried live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.