Another weekend has come and gone and another pair of solid performances by the Rochester Americans. The team finished the set of games with three out of a possible four points with an overtime loss to the Toronto Marlies on Friday and regulation win against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday night. David Leggio has stepped up to becoming the star of the team right now with his fourth straight standout performance. Leggio had 35 saves in a win against the Bulldogs on Saturday and over the course of the past four starts he has made 165 saves in net. That’s a lot of pucks to be stopping. Oh defense where are you?
This team has needed the goalie to steal wins and the win against Hamilton could be considered one of those games. Right now that goal is David Leggio and he’ll have more starts on the horizon.
Back to the win over Hamilton.. the Amerks are now 9-0-1-0 when leading after two periods of play. When this team can find a way to build a lead they’ve done an outstanding job of holding on to it.
Mark Voakes put the Amerks on the board first with his fifth goal of the season at 19:27 of the first period. Shawn Szydlowski had control of the puck along the boards and sent a pass to Nick Crawford on the other side of the ice who was able to quickly put the puck onto the stick of Voakes who beat the Bulldogs goaltender Robert Mayer.
Marcus Foligno scored 17 seconds into the second period for his 11th goal of the season with a tip in past Mayer. Foligno brought the puck across the blue line with Alex Henry trailing behind him but he was able to backhand a pass to Phil Varone who then put the puck right back at the tip of the stick for Foligno who was able to deflect the pass into the net.
The only goal of the game for the Hamilton Bulldogs was scored by Phil DeSimone who was standing all by himself on the far side of the crease to redirect a pass from Garrett Stafford into the net. Alex Biega was trying to fend off the rush of Stafford and as TJ Brennan tried to step up to help it left DeSimone wide open.
With just three minutes left in the game there was some pushing and shoving in the corner on the Bulldogs end of the ice due to Jonathan Parker being called for a boarding penalty. As David Leggio watched Robert Mayer skate into the mess he slowly strolled out closer and closer to the blue line keeping a close eye on the situation. Referee Chris Ciamaga quickly ordered Mayer back to his crease at which point Leggio also skated back but not before he shook his stick in the “I’m watching you” kind of way.
The boarding call by Parker was likely the right call by the referee but not the right call by Parker with the score so close and such little time left on the board. The team was able to kill off the penalty and then Marcus Foligno scored an empty netter to secure the win.
There’s no quitting for this team and they stand behind one another through the great calls and even bad calls and bad decisions. It’s a hard working team that knows they’ll have to stay disciplined and fight their way to every point possible in the standings. There’s obviously still some questions and concerns but it’s a team everyone can root for and in return they’ll give us everything they have.
A few other thoughts/notes…
** Jonathan Parker probably came as close as he has to scoring a goal since October in the second period when one of his shots went off the right goal post. He did get an assist on the empty net goal by Foligno, his first point since October 16th.
** Hamilton Bulldogs tough guy Zack FitzGerald appeared to be running his mouth for a lot of the game trying to challenge Maxime Legault and Riley Boychuk at various times but neither of them were willing. This is where Joe Finley would’ve come in handy to either put the guy in his place or make him think twice about even going down that path.
** Joe Finley had been called up on Saturday to the Buffalo Sabres to fill in for an injured Brayden McNabb.
** Zack Kassian seemed to be somewhere else this weekend. Maybe it was too many questions from the media at practice on Thursday about his time in Buffalo or something else but he just didn’t seem like the same Kassian who played with fire against Binghamton and Hershey a week prior. He wasn’t very physical, made poor decisions with his passes and even on one instance put little effort into a shot after Paul Szczechura passed the puck to him.
** The Amerks had their first back to back games of 6,000+ fans in a very long long time. There may be numbers out there saying it’s happened but when it comes to people in the seats it’s been a while. The game on Friday game had 6,456 and on Saturday they had 6,305. Way to go Rochester, especially during the first real sign of winter. There’s a lot of great reasons to see the team play and the word seems to be spreading.
** Igor Gongalsky missed his second straight game after a knee on knee collision with Jacob MicFlikier of the Hershey Bears.
** Corey Fienhage has only played in eight games this season but has worked his way into the lineup on Saturday and played a respectable game.
** A mid season report card is on the way within the next 48 hours.