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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
(Photo: Micheline Veluvolu)

This Week’s Storyline
Amerks Gear Up For Another Busy Week – Coming off a very light, but very successful holiday week that put the Rochester Americans back in the win column, the Amerks face another difficult stretch of games this week against fellow Western Conference opponents. For the second time in a three-week span, the schedule has Rochester playing three games in four nights, including its next two on home ice as the team wraps up a three-game homestand heading into the month of December. With a win over Albany on Friday, the Amerks (9-6-1-0, 19 points) moved into a third-place tie with Toronto in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings, but remain nine points behind league-leading Abbotsford, who sits atop the AHL with 28 points coming into the new week. Looking ahead, Rochester embarks on another busy week beginning with a midweek tilt against interconference rival San Antonio before a tough home-and-home series with Toronto to bring the weekend to a close.

Last Week’s Results
Friday, Nov. 23 vs. Albany, 5-2 W
Rookie forward Brian Flynn’s first career hat trick helped give the Rochester Americans a 5-2 victory over the Albany Devils on Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena in front of 8,781 fans. Defenseman T.J. Brennan added two goals and an assist while Flynn also recorded an assist for a four-point night as the pair combined for seven points and all five Amerk goals to help the team break a brief two-game skid. Goaltender David Leggio stopped 33 of 35 shots, including a shorthanded breakaway chance by Albany’s Adam Henrique, to pick up his ninth win of the season in goal. Brennan, Rochester’s leading goal scorer, scored both his goals while the team was shorthanded in a span of 6:35, tying a franchise record for the most shorthanded goals scored by one player in a game.

This Week’s Opponents
Tonight vs. San Antonio (Season Series: First game)
Rochester continues its three-game homestand on Wednesday, Nov. 28 as the San Antonio Rampage journey north to The Blue Cross Arena in their only visit to Western New York this season. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the first of just two meetings this season between the interconference rivals and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK. The Amerks are 0-4-1-0 over their last five get-togethers with San Antonio dating back to the 2007-08 campaign, when Rochester last defeated the Rampage by virtue of a 3-2 shootout victory back on Feb. 9, 2008. In addition, five of the last six games between the two teams have been decided by one goal, including last season’s 3-2 overtime loss at the AT&T Center last December. The Amerks hold an 8-8-0 lifetime mark in 16 games with the Florida Panthers’ affiliate. The game will be a walk down memory lane for some, especially for Rampage head coach Chuck Weber and assistant coach Jason Cipolla, who both shared the bench in the same capacity in Rochester during the 2010-11 season. Cipolla served as the Amerks assistant coach for four seasons (2007-11), finishing his tenure in Rochester with a 128-172-20 record (287 points) in 320 career games. Several Rampage players also called Rochester their home in 2010-11, including Colby Robak, Michael Caruso, Eric Selleck and Jacob Markstrom to name a few.

(Photo: Micheline Veluvolu)

Friday, Nov. 30 vs. Toronto (Season Series: 0-1-0-0, 0 pts.)
The Amerks host the defending Western Conference champion Toronto Marlies on Friday, Nov. 30 in the first of back-to-back tilts as the North Division rivals square off in a 7:05 p.m. bout at The Blue Cross Arena. The matchup will be the second of 10 meetings on the season for the two teams and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK. Toronto maintains the upper hand in the season series with a 1-0-0-0 record following its 3-1 win over Rochester in the only other encounter with the Amerks back on Oct. 13 at Ricoh Coliseum. Rochester is 26-33-2 all-time against Toronto.

Saturday, Dec. 1 at Toronto
Rochester opens its December slate as the home-and-home series shifts across the border to Ricoh Coliseum in downtown Toronto. The 7 p.m. contest (originally scheduled for 5 p.m.) can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK and will also be televised live nationally across Canada on Sportsnet ONE.

The Amerks announced earlier this week that the team has recalled defensemen Drew Schiestel and Matt MacKenzie from the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL. Schiestel has appeared in three games with the Amerks and three games with Greenville this season. He was selected by the Sabres with the 59th overall pick in the second round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. MacKenzie has appeared in nine games with the Amerks this season, recording one assist and 23 penalty minutes. In two games with Greenville, he scored one goal. MacKenzie was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the third round (83rd overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

After recording just one point through his first seven games of the season, first-year forward Brian Flynn has been the Amerks’ most productive and consistent player since the American Hockey League opened play in November. In eight games this month, Flynn has registered an astounding 14 points (7+7) and is averaging 1.75 points per game over his current eight-game point streak, which began with an assist in Rochester’s 3-2 win over Hamilton on Nov. 2. More impressively, however, Flynn has compiled four multi-point outings during that stretch, including three of his last five appearances that was highlighted by a career-high four-point effort (3+1) against Albany on Friday as he recorded his first career hat trick. The Amerks are also 4-1-0-0 this season when Flynn scores a goal.

With two more goals in Rochester’s 5-2 triumph over Albany on Friday, Brennan is on pace to shatter Rick Pagnutti’s 40-year-old franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a single-season. Pagnutti set the mark during the 1972-73 campaign, his first in Rochester, when he netted 18 goals en route to a 55-point season, which led all Amerks defensemen and placed him third on the team in overall scoring. Brennan officially reached the halfway point with a pair of shorthanded tallies on Friday to bring his season total to nine through just 16 games this season. The fourth-year blueliner fell just two short of the record last season, scoring 16 goals in only 52 games with the Amerks.

After posting back-to-back 3-2 losses to Abbotsford and Binghamton last weekend, the Amerks have seen nine of their first 16 games of the season decided by one goal, including three straight one-goal contests to begin the month of November. Rochester is 4-4-1-0 in one-goal games this season after finishing the 2011-12 campaign with 42 such outings last season. Of those nine one-goal games, three have been determined in overtime or via the shootout, for a 2-0-1-0 mark.

The Amerks are 3-3-0-0 (6 points) this season against North Division rivals, but have a 6-3-1-0 (13 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The second period has been Rochester’s strong suit thus far as the club has accounted for 23 goals while allowing 15. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 12 of the first 16 games of the campaign and show a 7-4-1-0 record when doing so, including a 4-2-0-0 mark at home. Rochester is also 7-1-0-0 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 4-0-0-0 mark at home. Coming off a season-high 51 shots on goal at Binghamton on Nov. 17, the Amerks are averaging 32.44 shots per game, the fifth-highest output among league opponents.

*With 46 goals through their last 12 games, the Amerks are currently fourth in the AHL in goals for with 58, nine shy of Charlotte’s league-leading 67 tallies. Rochester is currently averaging 3.63 goals-per-game, the third-most among AHL opponents.

*Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most potent in the league over the last 12 games as the Amerks have converted on 15 of their last 62 man-advantage opportunities. The Amerks rank tied for fifth in the league with 17 power-play goals and own the seventh-best power-play unit in the AHL with a 21.0% efficiency rate. More impressively, Rochester has scored at least one power-play goal in 11 of the first 16 games this season.

*With 14 points over his last 13 games, including a three-point outing at Syracuse on Nov. 10, Marcus Foligno is tied for the team lead with 17 points (6+11) in 16 games this season. The second-year pro currently ranks tied for 15th overall among the AHL’s top scorers, while his 11 assists are tied for 16th.

*Brennan, who has found the back of the net in four of his last six games, ranks second in scoring among AHL defensemen with 17 points (9+8) while his team-leading nine goals are second most among league rearguards and ninth overall.

*Additionally, four of Brennan’s nine tallies have also come on the power-play, tying him for seventh among league leaders, while also he shares the league lead with two shorthanded goals.

*Fresh off his four-point game aganinst Albany on Friday, Flynn ranks tied for fifth among AHL rookies with 15 points (8+7) in 15 games.
D. Leggio (Photo: Micheline Veluvolu)

*Leggio, who has started 14 of the last 16 games for the Amerks, leads all AHL netminders in saves (420) and wins (9), while his 848:48 minutes played are third-most among league backstops. He also boasts the third-best shootout record among goaltenders, having stopped nine of 10 shooters for a .889 save percentage.

*Brennan is 10th in the league with 59 shots on goal.

*Averaging 3.88 penalty minutes per game, Tarnasky is 14th in the AHL with 62 penalty minutes. He also comes into the week ranking third with eight fighting majors, including three in his last seven games.

*Rochester is 5-3-0-0 on home ice this season and is just one of seven teams to remain unbeaten in the shootout.

Flynn, who has 10 points (5+5) through his last five games, is in the midst of a career-long eight-game point streak (7+7) after being held pointless in six of his first seven games… Despite seeing his four-game point streak (1+3) cut short on Friday, second-year defenseman Brayden McNabb has collected one goal and nine assists in his last 13 appearances… Brennan, who also recently had a four-game point streak halted, shows goals in four of his last six games, including a stretch of three straight games from Nov. 9 to Nov. 14… Evan Rankin has registered 11 points (4+7) over his last 13 games… More impressively, the Portage, Michigan, native has only been held scoreless just five times in 16 games this season… Nick Tarnasky has tallied goals in four of his last nine games, including two in his last five appearances... Marcus Foligno, Rochester’s reigning Rookie of the Year, has registered eight points (1+7) in his last nine games, including six points (1+5) in his last four… Alex Biega has collected seven points (1+6) over his last 12 games, including at least one in three straight games between Oct. 26 and Nov. 2… Veteran forward Mark Mancari enters the week after notching eight points (2+6) through his last 12 showings, a stretch that features a pair of multi-point outings… Meanwhile, newcomer Rick Schofield also shows seven points (3+4) over the last 12 games and team captain Kevin Porter has tabbed four points (1+3) in as many games.

Mancari skated in his 500th career AHL game at Hamilton on Nov. 14… Rookie defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc also made his professional debut against the Bulldogs and scored his first pro goal in the 4-1 win… Rookie forward Kevin Sundher notched his first professional point with an assist in a 5-2 win at Syracuse on Nov. 10… Brennan, who recently eclipsed the 100-point mark in his AHL career, skated in his 200th career AHL game versus Adirondack on Nov. 9… Defenseman Nick Crawford needs just one more game for 150 pro appearances… Luke Adam is two games shy of the century mark for his AHL career… Leggio needs another two wins to reach 100 career victories… Schofield is just one game away from 100 AHL appearances and Foligno is just 10 appearances shy of 100 pro tilts.

Movember Game Friday – The culmination of the Amerks’ month-long Movember campaign will be held during Friday’s game vs. Toronto. The first 1,000 fans will take home an Amerks-themed Movember T-shirt, courtesy of Urology Associates of Rochester. Throughout the month of November, several Amerks players grew mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health. Leggio spearheaded the fundraising efforts as he teamed up with Urology Associates of Rochester to help raise funds for the Lipson Cancer Center at Rochester General Hospital and In addition to Leggio and UAR making donations to these causes, Amerks fans will have one last chance to make in-game donations. The first 20 fans to make a donation of at least $10 during each will receive an Amerks puck signed by Leggio and will also be entered into a raffle to win a game-used goalie stick autographed by Leggio.

Business Persons Special – For any Sunday through Thursday game, fans who present their business cards at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office can purchase a $17 ticket for best-available lower level seating.

Eats & Seats – The Distillery “Eats & Seats” promotion returns for another season, where for just $20, fans can purchase one ticket (best-available) and a $10 gift card to The Distillery.

Hockey Night in Rochester – Friday nights are Hockey Night in Rochester, and fans who wear an Amerks or Sabres jersey to a Friday game can purchase a best-available seat for just $17.

Ditch the Dorms – Ditch the Dorms Nights are back this season again on Fridays, where students who present their College ID at The Blue cross Arena Box Office can purchase a best available ticket for just $12.

Amerks Happy Hour – Prior to every Friday night home game this season, there will be an Amerks Happy Hour from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Upper Atrium Bar featuring live music and $2 Molson and Coors Light drafts for fans age 21 and over.

Nov. 9, 1956 – Amerks goaltender Charlie Hodge records the first shutout in franchise history in Rochester’s 5-0 win over the Providence Reds at the War Memorial.

Nov. 10, 2009 – The Amerks defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-1 at The Blue Cross Arena to tie a franchise record with their 11th consecutive victory. It marked the third time in franchise history than at Amerks team had achieved an 11-game winning streak.

Nov. 11, 1994 – Jason Young scores the game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory over the Worcester IceCats to give Rochester its 1,400th franchise win.

Nov. 22, 1964 – Amerks Hall of Famer Norm “Red” Armstrong scores the 2,000th goal in franchise history in a 6-1 win over the Springfield Indians.

Nov. 22, 1975 – Amerks Hall of Famer Gordie Clark scores the 5,000th goal in franchise history in a 6-4 loss to the Hershey Bears.

Nov. 26, 2011 – Rochester native Derek Whitmore posted his best game as a professional in a 5-3 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs, scoring a career-best four goals (two in the first, two in the third), including two in the first 1:53 of the contest, to power the Amerks to a win over their North Division rivals. The game also featured Whitmore’s first career hat trick as he single-handedly outscored the Bulldogs on his way to becoming the first Amerks player to net four goals since Jason Pominville’s five-goal outing against Cleveland on Oct. 21, 2005.

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