(Abbotsford, BC)… Veteran forward Mark Mancari registered three points (1+2) and David Leggio made a season-high 48 saves to help the Rochester Americans to a 5-2 win over the Abbotsford Heat Friday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The game was the first of a two-game set between the North Division rivals, which continues Saturday night in British Columbia.
Five different goal-scorers found the back of the net for the Amerks, who have now won four of their last five games and moved within two points of Abbotsford for second place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings. Kevin Porter also notched two points (1+1) in the win, including his 100th career AHL point.
Max Reinhart and Ben Walter each tallied lone goals for the Heat, while starting netminder Barry Brust stopped 25 of 29 shots in the losing effort.
For the second straight game, Rochester capitalized on its first power-play of the contest as rookie forward Brian Flynn spotted the Amerks to a 1-0 lead with his 10th goal of the season. After receiving a pass from Porter at the high slot, Mancari released a quick shot through traffic, but Flynn, who was stationed at the top of the crease, tipped it past the screened Brust to put the Amerks on top.
The assist gives Mancari 12 points (4+8) through his last 10 games while, Porter, who earned his 100th career AHL point with the secondary assist, shows nine points (2+7) over his last 10, including three assists in his last two outings. Flynn also becomes just the third Amerk this season to reach the 10-goal mark, joining Marcus Foligno and top point-getter T.J. Brennan in double digits.
Zemgus Girgensons gave the Amerks a two-goal cushion under five minutes later, flipping a puck over the left shoulder of Brust to make it a 2-0 game. Defenseman Joe Finley jumped on a loose puck deep in the Rochester zone and sprung Girgensons free with a breakout pass up the left wing boards heading the opposite way. Gaining the Abbotsford zone, Girgensons beat his defender to the outside and flipped a back-hander to the top right corner of the net for his third of the season and second tally in five games.
Reinhart brought Abbotsford within a goal 2:59 into the third period on a shorthanded breakaway, but Rochester responded just 33 seconds later again on the power-play as Nick Crawford’s wrister from the blueline found the right corner. Cody Hodgson earned the lone assist on the play, giving the Amerks a 3-1 advantage.
Rochester extended its lead to 4-1 as the duo of Mancari and Porter struck again at 9:11 of the third period. Mancari outhustled his defender to a loose puck deep in the Abbotsford zone and found a wide-open Porter, who made a move to his backhand and slipped a slow shot past Brust for his second point of the game. Mancari also recorded his second point of the contest and now has three multi-point games in his last five showings.
The Heat would again cut their deficit in half as Sven Baertschi and T.J. Brodie set up Walter, who finished off a nifty passing play to make it a 4-2 game.
Mancari secured the win for the Amerks, adding an empty-netter to cap his three-point night.
The same two teams meet again in the back-end of the two-game weekend set on Saturday, Jan. 5 at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Game time is slated for 10:00 p.m. EST and can be heard live on Sports 1280 WHTK.