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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

(ROCHESTER, NY)… Despite using a quick start to take an early 1-0 lead, the Rochester Americans could not overcome a late game rally by the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies, who used a four-goal run to defeat the Amerks 4-1 Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.

The Marlies scored for unanswered goals, including three in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit, while outshooting Rochester 40-15 in the contest. Former Amerks netminder Drew MacIntyre earned the win thanks to a 14-save effort for the Marlies, who moved six points ahead of the Amerks in the Western Conference standings. Joe Colborne and Brad Ross each scored for Toronto and Paul Ranger and Jerry D’Amigo added empty-netters in the closing minutes of regulation. Mike Zigomanis registered three assists in the win for the Marlies.

Cody McCormick scored the lone goal for the Amerks and David Leggio made 36 saves in the loss, which snapped Rochester’s three-game winning streak. The game also featured the return of two high-scoring forwards in Corey Tropp and Evan Rankin back from injury, with Tropp making a sooner-than-expected return after a 64-game absence with a knee injury he sustained in Rochester’s home-opener.

Tropp made an immediate impact in his return and picked up right where he left off on opening night, earning the primary assist on McCormick’s third goal of the season to help the Amerks take a 1-0 lead 5:11 into the first period. Tropp, after getting a lucky bounce off the right wing boards, skated into the right circle and made a cross-ice pass to McCormick, who caught the pass in stride and darted around Marlies forward Will Acton before floating a back-hander to the top corner over the right shoulder of MacIntyre. Amerks captain Matt Ellis was also awarded an assist on the goal, which sent Rochester into the first intermission with the early advantage.

The Marlies pulled even midway through the second period when Colborne somehow snuck one by Leggio from a tough angle, effectively snapping Rochester’s shutout streak of 180:10 with his 13th of the season at the 11:06 mark. Toronto capitalized on an offensive turnover with Zigomanis unleashing a shot from just inside the blueline that pinballed through traffic and missed wide of the net. Colborne, though, retrieved it off the end boards, and from behind the goal-line, slid the puck toward the goal-mouth where it would again carom off an Amerks defenseman and trickle inside the far post.

Toronto took its first lead of the night at 15:01 of the third period as Zigomanis set up Ross for the go-ahead tally. Zigomanis won a clean face-off back to Ross, who snapped it by Leggio to make it a 2-1 game. The Marlies sealed the win with back-to-back empty-net goals from Ranger and D’Amigo to secure the 4-1 win.

The Amerks bring the weekend to a close on Saturday, March 30 as they head across the border for a North Division showdown with the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the 10th of 12 meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.

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