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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

(Rochester, NY)… Phil Varone scored a goal and an assist and David Leggio stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced to help the Rochester Americans to a 4-1 win over the first-place Syracuse Crunch in front of 6,155 fans Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.

Mark Mancari, Brian Flynn and Evan Rankin rounded out the scoring for the Amerks, while former Crunch Rick Schofield notched a pair assists to help Rochester improve to 4-1-0-0 against his former team. The game also featured the debut of veteran defenseman Adam Pardy, who finished with a plus-one on-ice rating and earned 22:01 of ice time over 28 shifts in his first game in the red, white and blue.

Jared Nightingale scored the lone goal for Syracuse and goaltender Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves in the losing effort for the Crunch, who lost back-to-back games in regulation for just the first time this season, with both losses coming against Rochester.

The Amerks opened the scoring at 14:17 of the first period as Mancari took a pass from Amerks captain Kevin Porter to put the Amerks up 1-0. Porter skated up the right wing boards and made a lateral pass over to Mancari, who caught Tokarski out of position and buried the puck in the wide open net for his 11th goal of the season.

Flynn gave the Amerks a 2-0 lead at 4:41 of the second period. Luke Adam slipped through a pair of Crunch defenders and broke in alone, but his shot missed wide of the net to the near corner. Continuing with the play, Adam picked up the loose puck and sent a centering pass to a streaking Flynn, who one-touched it to the back of the net for his 13th goal of the season. With the assist, Adam extended his current point streak to five games, totaling seven points (3+4) over that span.

Rankin netted his ninth goal of the season at 7:05 of the second period making it a 3-0 game for the Amerks. Rankin’s initial shot from an odd-man rush with Schofield was denied, but he soon found his own rebound along the Syracuse goal-line and jammed it in to give Rochester a three-goal advantage.

Syracuse got on the board late in the middle frame after a net-front scramble led to Nightingale’s first goal of the season at 16:31. The play would go under official review, where it was determined that Nightingale was able to nudge the puck past Leggio prior to the cage being dislodged. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat each earned the assists.

Rochester cushioned its win with a final goal from Varone at 14:14 of the third period to make 4-1. After a one-timer from Alex Biega at the right point, Varone tipped it through Tokarski’s pads for the goal to help the Amerks to their second win in three games.

The Amerks remain at home on Monday, Jan. 21 as they take on the North Division rival Hamilton Bulldogs in a special afternoon matinee at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 1:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on WBER 90.5 FM.

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