The Rochester Americans (3-2-0-0) will embark on their first “three-in-three” of the season this weekend when they hit the ice for three games in less than 72 hours. The demanding stretch begins Friday night as the Amerks face-off with the North Division rival Hamilton Bulldogs at The Blue Cross Arena. Following Friday night’s match-up, the Amerks will head north to Toronto for a 3 p.m. face-off with the Marlies. The busy weekend wraps up with a Sunday evening tilt against the Adirondack Phantoms back on home ice.
Rochester enters the weekend riding a three-game winning streak with victories over Lake Erie, Grand Rapids and Syracuse over the past week. After dropping their first two games of the season, the Amerks have reversed their fortunes as the team builds its chemistry.
“It helps when you have some success to get chemistry and I think the guys start building that and feeling better about themselves and where they are,” said Head Coach Ron Rolston following Rochester’s latest win, a come-from-behind shootout victory over Syracuse on Tuesday.
Rochester rallied from an early 2-0 deficit in Tuesday’s win over the Crunch. Jacob Lagace
and Nick Crawford
each scored a goal while David Leggio
made 29 saves and Jonathan Parker
netted the shootout-winning goal. Lagace has now scored a goal in each of the last two outings while Crawford has a point in three straight games. Entering play on Friday, Rochester is tied with Toronto atop the North Division standings.
The Amerks’ depth has proven to be a valuable asset early on this season as the team has faced a variety of injuries. Defensemen Dennis Persson
, Drew Schiestel
and Shaone Morrisonn have each missed time with various ailments, as have forwards Paul Szczechura, Michael Ryan
and Maxime Legault. Despite the lineup shuffling, the team has come together and gotten contributions from just about everywhere in the lineup.
“With some of the injuries we’ve had, guys have really stepped up into spots and played terrific for us, so that’s a good sign,” Rolston said. “Not only are those guys feeling good about themselves, but also the guys who get into the lineup are producing and helping us be successful, so that’s a positive thing.”
There has also been some shuffling in the crease, but it hasn’t been due to injury. Goaltenders David Leggio
and Drew MacIntyre
have alternated starts, and each netminder has contributed to the current three-game winning streak.
“I think the competition is healthy in a sense that they push each other,” Rolston said. “They have both had quality outings for us and have each been in games where they have held us in so we were able to get our feet under us. We have got two quality goaltenders here that are capable of winning games for us and we are surely going to need it as we move along in our schedule with a young team.”
Leggio made 34 saves in a 3-1 win at Lake Erie last Friday in the team’s first win of the season. MacIntyre followed up by stopping 30 of 32 shots in a win over Grand Rapids on Sunday before Leggio turned aside 29 shots in Tuesday’s win versus Syracuse. Over the last three games, Leggio and MacIntyre have combined for a 1.62 goals against average and a .949 save percentage while allowing just five total goals.
Amerks Captain Colin Stuart and rookie forward Zack Kassian have each gotten off to hot starts for Rochester, with each player notching five points through the first five games. Stuart enters this weekend’s games having tallied four points (1+3) in the last two games and leads the team with 18 shots on goal. Kassian, meanwhile, was held off the scoresheet for the first time all season on Tuesday after beginning his pro career with a four-game point streak.
-- Dan Peters