( Toronto, ON)… Mark Mancari scored a milestone goal and David Leggio made 37 saves, but it was not enough as the Rochester Americans dropped a 2-1 decision to the Toronto Marlies Wednesday night at Ricoh Coliseum. The Amerks, who fall to 27-22-2-1, have now lost a season-high four straight to close out the month of February.
Ryan Hamilton netted both goals for the hometown Marlies, including the game-winner on a penalty shot, and former Amerk Drew MacIntyre stopped 27 of 28 shots in just his fourth appearance with Toronto, which has taken over sole possession of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
The scoreless first period saw the teams exchange several quality scoring chances, including two per side in the early goings of what turned out to be a goaltending duel between the former teammates who shared the crease last season in Rochester.
Rochester had the game’s first scoring opportunity with Patrick Rissmiller setting up Phil Varone in the low slot, but MacIntyre was equal to the task as he kicked out his left leg pad for his one of 11 saves in the opening frame. Just minutes later, however, it was Leggio who came up big for the Amerks, moving from post-to-post to foil a Nicholas Deschamp breakaway that could have given the Marlies the upper-hand.
Toronto needed just 15 seconds into the second stanza to strike first as Hamilton’s team-leading 22nd goal of the season gave the Marlies a 1-0 lead. After a clean face-off win by Hamilton back to the left point, Paul Ranger stepped up and boomed a shot toward the front of net, where the Marlies captain deflected it past Leggio for his first of the night.
The Marlies, thanks in part to several more saves from MacIntyre, kept the Amerks at bay for the next 10 minutes until Rochester retaliated with a power-play marker from Mancari to make it a 1-1 contest. Mark Pysyk, stationed just inside the blueline at the high slot, slithered a pass through the left face-off circle to Mancari, who one-timed the offer with an absolute blast to the upper right corner. Rissmiller also earned an assist on assist on the play, having gained the Toronto zone and leaving it for Pysyk.
The milestone goal, which ties him with Amerks captain Kevin Porter for the team lead in scoring, was the 200th of Mancari’s professional career and his 200th point as an Amerk, tying Peter Ciavaglia for 29th in scoring among all-time forwards in franchise history.
Toronto quickly regained the lead just 2:07 later with Hamilton’s second of the game as he went high glove-side on a penalty shot after being hauled down from behind by Amerks defenseman Nick Crawford. Hamilton came in wide of Leggio before flipping a wrist shot over his left shoulder to put the Marlies back on top with a 2-1 advantage, which proved to be the game-winner.
The Amerks had a quite a few chances to tie the game in the closing minutes with Leggio on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, but MacIntyre again made key saves to thwart any hopes of a late comeback attempt.
Rochester’s three-game road swing continues on Saturday, March 2 as the Amerks make their way to Syracuse to face the Crunch at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The 7:30 p.m. matchup will be the second meeting in five days between the intrastate rivals and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The game will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.