David Leggio stopped all 34 shots he faced and Kevin Porter had a hand in both goals as the Rochester Americans blanked the Hamilton Bulldogs 2-0 in a special New Year’s Eve matinee Monday afternoon at The Blue Cross Arena.
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The win improves Rochester to 4-1-0-0 on the season against Hamilton, earning eight out of a possible 10 points through the first five games of the season series, which resumes on Friday, Jan. 11 when the Bulldogs return to the Flower City.
Leggio was stellar in net, turning aside all 34 shots en route to his first shutout of the season, while Evan Rankin and Mark Mancari each tallied goals for the Amerks.
Cedrick Desjardins made 24 saves in the losing effort for the Bulldogs, who fall to 11-17-1-2 after being held scoreless for the second straight game.
The AHL’s second-best power-play unit capitalized on its first man-advantage of the afternoon as Rankin netted his eighth of the season put the Amerks up 1-0 just 6:33 into the opening period. Moments after Leggio foiled Olivier Fortier’s shorthanded breakaway opportunity, Porter collected the loose puck from the near corner and led the rush the opposite way. Once he gained the Hamilton zone, Porter left it for Brian Flynn, who then fed Rankin at the top of the crease for an easy tap-in to the back of the net, proving to be the game-winner.
The power-play tally was Rochester’s fifth over its last four games and Rankin’s third tally in the past seven games since returning from injury.
Porter would later help Rochester increase its lead 2-0, this time setting up Mark Mancari’s seventh goal of the season at 11:15 of the middle frame. In similar fashion to the Amerks’ first goal, the Amerks captain retrieved Steve Qualier’s missed shot from the left half-wall and began the transition out of the defensive zone. Once he crossed the blueline, Porter made a lateral pass to Mancari and the veteran forward picked the upper right corner from the top of the circle to put the Amerks up by a pair. The goal gives Mancari, who’s fresh off a five-game point streak, three in his last four games and a total of five points (3+2) over that span.
Rochester opens the New Year on Friday, Jan. 4 as it travels west for the first of back-to-back tilts with the Abbotsford Heat at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The 10:00 PM EST matchup will be the third of eight meetings between the North Division foes and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.