The Amerks have a chance to take first back first place in the North Division with a win tonight over the Hamilton Bulldogs, a team they’ve had difficulty beating so far in six games this season. The Bulldogs have 12 wins this season and five of those have been against the Rochester Americans. Both teams are playing improved hockey lately so it should be a competitive game starting at 7:35 at the War Memorial.
Rochester is on a four game winning streak having just defeated the Oklahoma City Barons in a shootout and overtime. They handed the Lake Erie Monsters a 4-1 loss last Wednesday and almost two weeks ago defeated the Houston Aeros on the road. The winning streak has the Amerks within one point of first place in the North Division and thanks to a Toronto Marlies loss on Thursday they have a chance to move up. They’re a young team finding ways to win through injuries, call ups and overall simply working as a team.
Hamilton on the other hand has won six of their last 10 games and picked up points in eight of those games. On Monday the Toronto Marlies were winning 3-0 at the end of the first period but by the time the game was over the Bulldogs had scored six goals and won 6-3. The Bulldogs are looking to move into the top eight teams in the conference and will have the confidence based on previous meetings between the two teams. They appear to be a team that started out slow (except beating the Amerks) and is starting to crawl their way back.
Another team effort will be required for a victory (stating the obvious).
Whoever starts in net whether it’s David Leggio or Drew MacIntyre will need to be at the top of their game. Each goalie has won two games of this current four game streak and who starts on Friday night is unknown. The occasional weak goal has been the downfall of both goalies which is evident in the fact that 10 out of the teams 18 combined losses have been decided by one goal.
The “All-Twitter” line of Marcus Foligno (@marcusfoligno), Phil Varone (@pvarone22) and Jacob Lagace (@jlagace83) will need to continue their performance from Wednesday. Lagace had two goals, Foligno had two assists and Varone also had two assists. Lagace had 10 goals in 58 games with the Pirates last season and is already at nine goals in 29 games. Varone and Foligno are rookies and while expectations are higher on Foligno the young players have all started producing more than expected.
Random stats: Marcus Foligno is tied for first amongst rookies with three game winning goals this season.. TJ Brennan has a point in eight out of the last nine games played.. Phil Varone has had a point in seven of his last nine games.. Jonathan Parker has not had a point since October 16th but scored one of the shootout goals on Wednesday.. Derek Whitmore has said his goals seem to come in bunches so he’s due, his four goal game was back on November 26th and he’s only scored three goals this month..
Shaone Morrisonn (lower body) and Evan Rankin (likely a concussion due to this hit) are expected to miss the game due to injuries as well as Michael Ryan (no one knows) and Matt MacKenzie (leg). Paul Szczechura sat out the game on Wednesday after being ‘banged up’ from blocking a shot and is ‘hoping’ to play. For updates on injuries you can always check out http://www.letsgoamerks.com/injuries. The Sabres appear to finally finding health so the call ups have slowed and there’s rumblings in Buffalo that the inconsistency of Zack Kassian could see him sent back. Colin Stuart is still a few weeks away from returning and he’s one player that could really be used.
There’s already over 7,000 tickets sold for the game tonight which will make it one of the largest crowds of the season. The upper atrium will have $2 beers from 6:30 – 7:30 and the Civic Center Garage will have parking for $5. Out of all of the seats remaining there’s under 400 seats remaining in the center sections (upper and lower bowl) so if you don’t have tickets yet fill out his form to get best available tickets for $10. If you have questions or special needs please contact the Rochester Americans ticket office at 1-855-GO-AMERKS (the team did not sponsor me in any way for this sales pitch).
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See you at the game!