BUFFALO (LGS) — Things couldn’t be worse for the Rochester Americans as they headed into their weekend contests between the Manitoba Moose and the Toronto Marlies. After Chris Drury was felled with a concussion against the Ottawa Senators, the Sabres' hand was forced once again. The person on their way out of Rochester this time was Mark Mancari.
Mancari left Rochester on Friday afternoon and made his NHL debut on Saturday versus the Ottawa Senators.
The undermanned Amerks went into a weekend set facing the Manitoba Moose on Friday night, then hitting the road and heading to Toronto on Saturday to take on the Marlies.
Things did not get off to a good start for the Amerks. In losing on Friday night to the Moose 8-3, they fell out of first place for the first time all year long.
Led by Alexander Bolduc, the Moose jumped out to a 3-1 lead after one period of play, had a 4-1 lead after two and pulled away with four goals in the third.
Scoring goals for Rochester were Anthony Stewart, Martin Lojek, and Greg Jacina.
“You can’t say it to the team before the game,” said Manitoba coach Scott Arneil, “but this was a must win game.
“It’s nice to be the hunted, instead of the hunter,” Arneil said as the Moose moved into first place.
“I’m at a loss for words,” a frustrated Randy Cunneyworth said in his press conference Friday night.
“I don’t doubt the intent, I think it’s a case where guys are trying to do more than what they are capable of.”
Adam Dennis went into the weekend as the number one guy for the first time all season. Dennis didn’t make it to the end of the game. Dennis was pulled 2:12 into the third and was replaced by Adam Berkhoel. Dennis made 17 saves on 23 shots, while Berkhoel stopped 8 of 10 shots.
“I don’t know why we’ve stopped working,” said Amerks captain Brandon Smith.
“We’ve got to come together as a team, and stick together (through this).”
The scoring drought continued into Saturday night’s game. The Amerks were shut out for the third time in four games.
Scoring for Toronto were Ben Ondrus, Jay Harrison, and Robbie Earl.
Adam Dennis stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced. Earl scored on an empty net.
The Amerks finally brooke out of their slump with a 3-2 overtime victory Wednesday night (last night) against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Mark Mancari - fresh off his stint in Buffalo - scored the winner 1:42 into overtime. It was his second goal of the game. Sabres' prospect Adam Berkhoel made 26 saves and picked up the win in his first start between the pipes for Rochester.
“I felt it was a step in the right direction,” said Cunneyworth. “We had a lot of opportunities tonight, and through hard work, we were successful.”
With a 37-20-1-0 record and 75 points, the Amerks now own a share of the North Division lead with the Manitoba Moose.
Wristshots from the Amerks locker room and around the AHL:
►Trailing Rochester by just two points heading into Friday night’s contest, the Manitoba Moose bolstered their lineup with the addition of Brendan Brooks. Brooks has been loaned by the Detroit Red Wings. Brooks had scored nine goals and eight assists for 17 points and added 44 penalty minutes fro Grand Rapids in 51 games.
► With their roster being depleted by the unbelievable injury bug in Buffalo, Rochester General Manager Jody Gage announced that the Amerks have recalled Jonathan Lehun and Chaz Johnson. Lehun was averaging a touch under a point a game, scoring 34 points (18g, 16a) in 35 games for the Florida Everblades. Johnson had 111 PIMs in 44 contests for the Rockford IceHogs of the United Hockey League.
► Mark Mancari was sent back to Rochester on Wednesday morning and played against the Grand Rapids Griffins later that night. He celebrated his return by scoring two goals including the game-winner in overtime.
►On Monday, Lehun was sent back to the Everblades, while Johnson was signed to a Professional Try Out (PTO) and will remain in Rochester for the time being.
► After Stewart’s goal broke the Amerks scoreless streak at 134:34, the scoreboard operator appeared to not put the goal on the board. When the Amerks public relations staff was notified the media that the score was not put on because the board was broke, one observer quipped, “How do we know it wasn’t broke on Sunday?” (Referring to the fact that the Amerks hadn’t scored a goal at home since the prior Friday night).