Alex Biega broke a 2-2 tie with an unassisted goal 15:21 into the third period and Paul Szczechura tacked on an insurance tally with 45 seconds left in regulation to help the Rochester Americans defeat the Adirondack Phantoms by a score of 4-2 at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Sunday. The victory was Rochester’s second straight and moves the Amerks into a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots with 81 points entering the final week of the regular season.
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Evan Rankin and Biega led the way offensively for Rochester with a goal and an assist apiece, with Rankin’s performance representing his third straight multi-point effort. Phil Varone also scored a goal in the winning effort while David Leggio earned his 25th win of the season with an impressive 46-save night.
Tyler Brown and Tye McGinn scored for Adirondack, while netminder Michael Leighton turned away 24 of 27 shots fired his way.
After a scoreless opening period, Varone got the Amerks on the board 1:45 into the middle frame. After a Rankin bid from the slot was denied by Leighton, the rebound caromed right to Varone in the left slot to deposit his second goal in as many games and 11th of the season. The rookie forward now shows four points (2+2) in his last three games, including goals in back-to-back outings.
Brown capped off a strong offensive zone shift for Adirondack to tie things up at one midway through the second at 8:32. After a string of strong saves by Leggio, Andrew Rowe sent a centering feed toward the net that Brown tipped home for his eighth of the season.
Rochester regained a 2-1 lead at the 13:16 mark of the second as Rankin added a tally of his own to earn his third consecutive multi-point game and 14th goal of the season. Biega fired a wrister from the point that was deflected by Rankin and somehow eluded Leighton.
The Phantoms battled back once again to knot the score 2-2 with less than one minute to go in the second when McGinn chipped the rebound of an Oskars Bartulis point shot over the outstretched pad of Leggio.
Biega potted the game-winning goal with just 4:39 remaining in regulation, his fifth of the season. The blueliner grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone and made his way into the offensive zone before letting a wrister go from the middle of the slot that beat Leighton to the stick side.
Szczechura sealed the 4-2 victory with an empty net goal in the final minute of play.
Rochester returns home on Tuesday, April 10 to close out its season series with the North Division rival Grand Rapids Griffins at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the sixth and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk. The game will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet Channel 26.