The Rochester Americans opened their three-game trek through the Lone Star State with a 2-1 loss to the Western Conference-leading Texas Stars Friday night at the Cedar Park Center in downtown Austin. With the loss, the Amerks fall to 33-25-3-1 on the season and are 1-2-0-0 on their current season-long five-game road swing.
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Veteran forward Mark Mancari continued to find the scoresheet, netting the lone goal for the Amerks, while goaltender David Leggio stopped 39 of 41 shots in his 53rd start between the pipes this season. Despite the setback, though, Rochester, which entered the game with the AHL’s top penalty kill, successfully killed off all seven Texas power-play opportunities, including a two-man disadvantage late in the middle frame.
Scott Glennie and Luke Gazdic led the way for the hometown Stars, who also received a 29-save effort from Richard Bachman as Texas moved atop the AHL standings with a league-best 85 points.
Texas opened the scoring 3:24 into the contest after a goal-mouth scramble led to Glennie’s third goal of the season with assists from Taylor Vause and Francis Wathier. After making two point-blank saves on Vause, Glennie picked up the rebound at the top of the crease and was able to poke it through the outstretched legs of Leggio on his second whack to give the Stars an early 1-0 advantage.
The Amerks scored short-handed late in the opening period as Mancari’s team-leading 20th goal of the season made it a 1-1 game heading into the first intermission. Phil Varone made a great play to bump his defender off the puck in the near corner, and as he circled behind the Texas net, he spotted Mancari in the low slot for a one-timer to the upper right corner with just six seconds remaining in the period. With the goal, which gives Mancari 15 points (5+10) over his last 11 games, the eighth-year pro becomes the first Amerk this season to reach the 20-goal mark, a feat he’s accomplished in each of his last seven seasons.
The Stars regained the lead midway through the second stanza on Gazdic’s deflection of William Wrenn’s blast from the point at 9:16. Bretton Cameron jumped on a loose puck at center ice and skated into Rochester’s zone looking to set up Wrenn with a one-timer from just inside the blueline. Leggio had the initial bid in his sights, but Gazdic, who was camped at the left post, redirected Wrenn’s shot under the crossbar to put Texas back up 2-1.
Rochester continues its trudge across the Lone Star State on Saturday, March 23 as the Amerks take on the Houston Aeros in a Western Conference showdown at the Toyota Center. The 8:05 p.m. EST matchup will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.