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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

TORONTO – Jerry D’Amigo’s second goal of the game with 4:17 left in the third period was the winner, as the Rochester Americans dropped a 4-3 decision to the Toronto Marlies in Game One of their AHL Western Conference Quarterfinal series before 6,244 at the Ricoh Coliseum. Game Two of the series will be played in Toronto on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Rochester battled back from a two-goal deficit late in the third to even the score at 3-3 on goals by Marcus Foligno and TJ Brennan, who somehow found a way to get the puck past Scrivens from an almost Jochen Hecht-like angle from the side of the net after some hard work along the boards by Evan Rankin. But D’Amigo used his speed to find some open ice on the winning goal, and the Amerks were never able to recover.

“Coming back to get those two goals to tie it was great, and we had another chance later to go ahead in the game,” said head coach Ron Rolston. “But we made a mistake and didn’t manage that part of the game well and they ended up scoring the winning goal.”

Rolston saw some good things in his team tonight, but knows they’ll have to tighten up defensively if they want to leave Toronto on Saturday with a split of the first two games.

“At times I thought we played well, and at other times we didn’t play the way we needed to,” Rolston explained. “They’re a good team. The margin of error with their team is minimal, and if you make mistakes it’s gonna be in the back of your net. That’s the way it was tonight. It allowed them to get up 3-1 on us, and suddenly we’re down two goals. But give our guys credit to come back and get ourselves back in the game.”

The loss spoiled a sparkling 34-save performance from Amerks goaltender David Leggio. Making his 24th consecutive start, Leggio stood tall in the Rochester net through the first two periods, making several key saves with the Amerks clinging to a 1-0 lead. He kicked out his right pad to stop Carter Ashton, then used a quick glove hand to deny Matt Frattin’s laser from the slot.

But Leggio couldn’t stop everything. After turning away the first 26 shots he saw, Leggio got caught out of position on Toronto’s first goal at 15:09 of the second period. The puck was fired into into the right corner and Leggio started out of his net to play the puck before quickly retreating. Nicolas Deschamps quickly jumped on the puck and spotted D’Amigo in the slot for the redirection over Leggio’s left shoulder.

“They went for the long pass, and it got tipped,” Leggio explained. "I was gonna go play it on the wall, but it bounced into the no-touch zone. I got back to the post quick, and they made a centering pass and the one-timer that got in.”

Rochester scored the game’s first goal, and it came off the stick of leading scorer Phil Varone at the 15:05 mark of the first. Varone set himself up in the slot in front of Marlies goaltender Ben Scrivens, and he tipped home Nick Crawford's floater from the point to give the Amerks a 1-0 lead.

With the ice still wet from the zamboni, Toronto took their first lead of the game just 61 second into the third period. Joe Colborne gathered the puck along the right boards in the Amerks zone, and fed a streaking Frattin for the one timer from the bottom of the faceoff circle. Mike Zigomanis then staked the Marlies to a two-goal lead with a short-side laser just over four minutes later at 4:40 on the power play,

“Going into the third it was a 1-1 game, and you don’t want them to get the lead early, so it might have taken a little wind out of our sails,” said Foligno. “They kind of had some momentum from the second period already, but it really showed the character in this team by coming back to tie it up after that.”

Toronto outshot Rochester 38-23, including a 30-13 total after two periods. Derek Whitmore led the Amerks with four shots, while Frattin had a game-high six. Both teams were one-for-five on the power play.

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