(Toronto, Ontario) … The Rochester Americans (20-7-3-3) rode a 22-save effort from goaltender Linus Ullmark to clinch sole possession of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division with a 2-0 shutout victory over the Toronto Marlies (22-11-0-0) Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
With the victory, Rochester has notched points in 21 of its last 24 games and has collected 38 points since Nov. 1 during its recent surge up the Eastern Conference standings. The Amerks remain the only team in the league with one regulation loss while on the road this season and hold a record of 12-1-3-2 in their 18 games away from The Blue Cross Arena.
In his first trip back to Toronto, former Marlie and current Amerk Seth Griffith led Rochester to its 20th victory of the season as he tallied a goal and an assist. Sahir Gill notched his 10th goal of the campaign to finish off the scoring while Ullmark, the reigning CCM/AHL Player of the Week, picked up his second shutout of the season after stopping all 22 shots sent his way. The Swedish netminder holds a share of the league-lead with 15 wins while improving to 15-5-3 on the season.
Second-year forward Trevor Moore registered a game-high five shots for the Marlies as netminder Garret Sparks stopped 30 of 32 but suffered his third straight loss. The 25-year-old shows an 11-6-0 record on the slate while his 1.86 goals-against average ranks third-lowest in the AHL.
The Amerks drew their first penalty of the night late in the opening period, and despite entering the tilt just 1-for-25 in their last six games, Griffith gave Rochester a 1-0 lead on the man-advantage going into the break.
Griffith collected a pass from Zach Redmond and patiently picked the upper left corner of Sparks with 34 seconds left in the period. Stuart Percy and Redmond each recorded their 16th helper of the season, which are tied for second-most among all Rochester skaters, on Griffith’s fourth goal of the campaign.
The tightly-contested game remained a one-goal affair until the 16:33 mark of the third period when Gill banged home an insurance marker past Sparks and squashed any thought of a Marlies comeback.
Crashing towards a loose puck in front of Sparks, Griffith fired a shot off the pads of the netminder but the rebound sat atop the crease before being swept into the cage by Gill. The goal gives Gill a share of the team-lead with rookie C.J. Smith as they each have 10 makers in 33 games this season.
The Marlies pulled Sparks for the extra skater for the final two minutes of the showdown but Ullmark held off the attack as he notched his second shutout of the season and third of his AHL career. Rochester’s reigning team MVP boasts a 12-2-3 record in his last 17 appearances since Nov. 1. and has held the opposition to two or fewer goals in 12 games over that span.
Rochester returns home to close out the 2017 calendar year on Saturday, Dec. 30 with another get-together against the Laval Rocket at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. The contest will be the fourth meeting over a nine-day span between the North Division rivals and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Griffith (4), Gill (10)
RCH: Ullmark – 22/22 (W)
TOR: Sparks – 30/32 (L)
RCH: PP (1/3) | PK (5/5)
TOR: PP (0/5) | PK (2/3)