The Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester was electric as the Rochester Americans opened the 2012-13 American Hockey League season with a 6-5 shootout win over the Syracuse Crunch. Veteran forward Mark Mancari scored the game-tying goal and fired the eventual winner in the fifth round of the skills competition that sent 8,859 Amerks fans into a frenzy.
Corey Tropp led the Amerks with two goals on the night, while Marcus Foligno (1+1) and Mancari (1+1) each contributed two points as well. Goalie David Leggio was stellar between the pipes, stopping 29 saves in regulation before denying all five shootout attempts from the Crunch, giving the opportunity for Mancari to win the game for the Amerks.
“It felt great,” said Leggio about being back in an energy filled Blue Cross Arena. “You could feel the energy as Mancari was going in for the shootout and when he scored the place erupted. Those are really great feelings as a player.”
Head coach Ron Rolston also thought the crowd gave his club the boost they needed.
“It was great to see the crowd. It was alive and they saw a great game.”
The Amerks wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Corey Tropp buried a cross-ice pass from Cody Hodgson 24 seconds into the game.
The Crunch responded with a goal from Mark Barberio assisted by Vlad Namestnikov and Alex Killorn. Barberio’s shot from the top of the circle squeaked past Leggio to knot the game at one.
Tropp tallied his second goal of the night after redirecting a shot from the point and sliding it into the empty net. Tropp’s goal was assisted by Luke Adam and Drew Schiestel.
The offensive outburst continued less than a minute later as Foligno fired a wrister under Tokarski’s arm. Amerks captain Kevin Porter and Mancari assisted on the goal, making the score 3-1.
Rookie defenseman Mark Pysyk continued the Amerks scoring assault with a quick goal three minutes into the second period to record his first professional goal. Last season’s point leader Phil Varone assisted on the goal along with Evan Rankin.
With 45 seconds left in the period, the Crunch cut the score to 4-2 with a rebound goal by Mike Angelidis, who sparked a four-goal run for Syracuse.
The Crunch pulled within one early in the third period as Cory Conacher scored on a wrist shot from the top of the crease.
Syracuse’s Tyler Johnson gave the Crunch their first lead of the game with back-to-back tallies within a two-minute span, but the lead would be short-lived as Mancari found the top of the net with a power-play marker to level the game at five apiece.
After a scoreless overtime, Mancari secured the win for Rochester as the lone scorer in the shootout.
The Amerks travel north of the border to take on the defending Western Conference Champion Toronto Marlies on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Ricoh Coliseum. The 5:00 p.m. contest will be the first of 10 meetings this season between the North Division rivals and can be heard live on Sports 1280 AM WHTK.