Rookie forward Zemgus Girgensons scored his first professional goal and David Leggio combined for 29 saves in regulation and overtime to help the Rochester Americans earn a 3-2 shootout win in front of 6,026 fans over the North Division rival Hamilton Bulldogs Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
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Marcus Foligno sealed the victory with the game-winner in the fourth round of the skills competition while Leggio stopped three of four shooters to help the Amerks claim their sixth win in the last seven games, including three straight at home.
Rochester surrendered a 2-0 lead as Hamilton rallied with a pair of third period goals from Brendan Gallagher and Darryl Boyce to force overtime, but Phil Varone and Brian Flynn would find the back of net to set the stage for Foligno’s winner.
“It was that type of game. It was a hard-working, scrappy game to get and that’s hockey, you just got to grind it out.” Leggio said.
The Amerks opened the scoring 6:31 into the contest as Girgensons deflected Alex Biega’s shot from the point to give Rochester a 1-0 lead. The assist would mark Biega’s fourth in his last three games.
After a scoreless middle frame, Rochester needed only 34 seconds on the man-advantage as team captain Kevin Porter put the Amerks up by a pair with his fourth goal of the season at just 2:02 into the third period. Mark Mancari feathered a pass to Porter in the low slot, but the puck caromed off his skate and past Hamilton goaltender Robert Mayer for his third tally in as many games.
Gallagher put the Bulldogs on the board just 41 seconds later, redirecting Brendon Nash’s shot from the point over the right shoulder of Leggio to cut Rochester’s lead in half.
Hamilton knotted the game with four minutes left in regulation as Boyce pounced on Mike Blunden’s rebound and tucked the puck just inside the near post for the equalizer to push the contest into extra time.
An uneventful overtime session would require a shootout to determine the winner and the Amerks would convert on three of their four opportunities to stave off Hamilton’s late-game comeback attempt.
The same two teams will meet again on Saturday, Nov. 3 as the home-and-home series shifts back across the border for a 7:00 p.m. bout at Copps Coliseum. Fans can tune in for all the live action on Sports 1280 WHTK.