(Cleveland, OH)… A career-best four-point day from Phil Varone and a 31-save effort from goaltender David Leggio powered the Rochester Americans to a 4-1 win over the Lake Erie Monsters Tuesday morning at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. With the win, the Amerks (26-16-2-1, 55 points) remain undefeated against the Monsters this season and moves Rochester into a two-way tie with Lake Erie for second place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
Varone (2+2) had his hand in all four Rochester goals, including a pair of unassisted tallies, on his way to recording his first three-point game since notching three assists against Lake Erie on Feb. 17 of last season. Leggio also extends his personal win streak to a season-long seven games as the red-hot Amerks have now won eight of nine and nine of their last 11 games.
Rookie goaltender Calvin Pickard stopped 22 shots and Paul Carey scored the lone goal for the Monsters, who saw their winless streak reach five games in the loss.
Rochester opened the scoring 6:12 into the first period as Frederick Roy poked in Patrick Rissmiller’s wrap-around attempt to give the Amerks an early 1-0 lead. Rissmiller, who played with the Monsters last season, circled around the Lake Erie cage looking to stuff a shot inside the near post, but the rebound kicked out to the goal-mouth, where a waiting Roy shoveled it past Pickard for his sixth goal of the season and third in as many games. Varone would earn his first of four points of the day with an assist on the goal.
Varone made it a 2-0 contest midway through the frame after his short-handed breakaway goal spotted the Amerks a two-goal cushion at 11:40. Varone intercepted Cameron Gaunce’s pass at the blueline and sprung free alone before slipping a back-hander through the legs of Pickard for the unassisted tally.
The Amerks carried the momentum into the second period as a power-play goal from Crawford at 16:19 gave Rochester its biggest lead of the day. Varone, stationed along the left half-wall, one-touched Luke Adam’s offer across the way to Crawford, who left his post in the high slot and put a shot under the crossbar for his fourth of the season. The goal gives Crawford four points (2+2) through his first five games in February having only been held scoreless once during the stretch.
Lake Erie spoiled Leggio’s bid for the shutout late in the third period as Carey converted David van der Gulik’s pass at 15:47 to bring the Monsters within a pair, but Varone would add an empty-netter exactly three minutes later to cap his four-point game and secure Rochester the 4-1 victory.
Rochester returns home on Friday, Feb. 15 as the Amerks host the Houston Aeros on Hall of Fame Night at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK. Prior to the game, the Amerks will induct former team captain Dane Jackson and longtime sports anchor Rich Funke into the team's Hall of Fame during an on-ice ceremony as the organization welcomes the 53rd and 54th members of the exclusive club.