The Rochester Americans got back on the winning track with a 3-1 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday night at Copps Coliseum. The victory snapped Rochester’s five-game winless streak and now gives the Amerks 79 points with four games remaining in the season as they continue their playoff push.
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Evan Rankin posted his second consecutive multi-point effort with a goal and an assist, while Derek Whitmore and Phil Varone provided a goal apiece. Netminder David Leggio finished with 25 saves in what was his 19th straight start. Rochester native Ryan Grimshaw also made his AHL debut for the Amerks after being signed to an Amateur Tryout earlier in the day.
Brian Willsie tallied the lone goal for Hamilton in the loss and Peter Delmas turned away 16 of 18 shots faced between the pipes.
The Amerks struck first 6:36 into the contest when Whitmore set a new AHL career-high with his team-leading 28th goal of the season. On a three-on-one rush, Mark Voakes faked a shot and slid the puck to Whitmore at the right side of the net, where the fourth-year pro immediately one-timed it into the near corner.
Willsie evened the score at one for Hamilton at the 16:17 mark of the middle frame, converting on a shorthanded breakaway for his 17th of the season. An unfortunate bounce off the foot of the linesman sprung Willsie free at the Hamilton blueline and the 14-year pro would capitalize as he beat Leggio with a glove-side wrister to make it a 1-1 game.
The Amerks regained the lead 2-1 just 1:34 into the final period, as Varone came up with the puck out of a net-mouth scramble and shoveled it to the back of the net. After his initial bid from the edge of the crease popped up in the air, Varone located the rebound for his 10th goal of the season and his team-leading 50th point.
Rankin secured the win for Rochester with an empty net goal in the closing minute of regulation time.
Rochester travels to the Glens Falls Civic Center on Sunday, April 8 to close out its season series with the Northeast Division Adirondack Phantoms. The 5:00 p.m. contest will be the fourth and final meeting this season between the intrastate rivals and can be heard live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.