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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

TORONTO – For the past few weeks, the Rochester Americans did everything they could just to get in the Calder Cup playoffs. Come Monday night, they’ll have to do everything possible to stay in them.

For the second game in a row, Jerry D’Amigo was the hero as the Toronto Marlies defeated Rochester 4-3 in Game Two of their best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinal series before a sold-out crowd of 7,816 at the Ricoh Coliseum. The win gives Toronto a 2-0 series lead, and has Rochester on the brink of elimination as the scene shifts to Blue Cross Arena for Game Three on Monday.

With their late-season playoff push still fresh in their minds, head coach Ron Rolston says the team can definitely use that as a teaching tool for Game Three.

“We’re at one game now, but we’ve been that way the whole time,” said head coach Ron Rolston. “We’ve just been focused on a period at a time, just taking it in small steps. That’s the way it’s got to be on Monday. We have to start with the first period, put periods together and win the periods. Hopefully we can put together a 60-minute game on Monday night.”

Derek Whitmore thought the team’s effort was much better than Game One, and believed they deserved a better fate today.

“We played well enough to win the game; we just had some bad bounces and bad luck,” said Whitmore, who is still without a goal in the series. “But the bottom line is we’re down 2-0.”

“It’s one of those games we let slip away from us,” explained Marcus Foligno. “We can’t let this hang over our heads. We need to have a short memory and get right back it on Monday.”

D’Amigo’s second goal of the game snapped a 3-3 tie with just 1:50 left to play, as he converted a Matt Frattin pass from the corner with a quick one-timer in the slot.

It’s an all too familiar scene for Rolston, who coached D’Amigo in the US Under-18 program in 2008-09.

“Jerry D’Amigo is a big game player. In the World Juniors, he was a big game player,” Rolston said. “When the chips are down he’s a good player. Tonight he got two more, and has four already in two games. He’s just one of those guys that can step up in crucial times.”

The Amerks came out flying in the first period, a stark contrast to their sluggish start in Thursday’s series opener. They outshot Toronto 10-6 in the first, but were unable to get many quality scoring chances as they were forced to the perimeter for much of the period. Phil Varone’s point blank shot from the slot on the game’s first shift was their best chance of the period.

But despite having just six shots, the Marlies were able to get two past David Leggio to take 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes.

Leggio was his own worst enemy on the first goal as he coughed up the puck behind his net, leading to D’Amigo getting a wide open net for third goal of the series. Then with Foligno in the box on a questionable roughing call, Mike Zigomanis stepped into a howitzer from the top of the circle that Leggio was unable to see through a screen in front.

Rochester erased Toronto’s two-lead with a pair of their own in the second, including Foligno’s second of the playoffs at 10:48. Alex Biega moved the puck down low to Foligno, and he fed Maxime Legault in front. Legault’s shot was stopped by Ben Scrivens, but Foligno swung around the left side of the net and went short side with a quick wrist shot to cut the Marlies lead in half.

Just under four minutes later, as a Toronto penalty had expired, the Amerks used some quick puck movement in the Marlies zone to even the score at 2-2. Foligno tipped Brayden McNabb’s shot in front, but Varone was there to quickly bury the rebound at 14:35 for his second of the postseason.

The Marlies broke the short-lived tie with just 1:38 left in the second after Frattin knocked Nick Crawford off the puck with a hard bodycheck just inside the Rochester blueline. Frattin grabbed the loose puck and got off a shot that Leggio stopped. But the rebound landed right on the stick of Nicolas Deschamps and he made no mistake to send Toronto to the locker room up by one.

The Amerks answered back quickly in the third to tie the score at 3-3. TJ Brennan picked off a pass at the Toronto blueline and made his way through a crowd in front. Brennan’s short side shot was by no means a bomb, but it somehow found a way to dribble through Scrivens. For Brennan, it was also his second goal of the playoffs. Brennan led the Amerks with four shots on goal in the game.

Rochester was forced to play with just 11 forwards for most of the game after Evan Rankin went down with an injury in the first period. Rankin checked Frattin along the sideboards, but he was cut on the ankle by Frattin’s skate during the collision. He left the ice immediately, and soon after headed to the locker room with the help of a trainer. His status for Monday is questionable.

Rochester was scoreless in three power play attempts, and are now one-for-eight in the series. The Marlies scored once on four power plays, making them two-for-nine through two games. 

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