The Rochester Americans defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-1 at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night to clinch a berth in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs. It marks the second straight year the Amerks have qualified for the postseason and the 43rd playoff appearance in franchise history.
Forwards Phil Varone (1+2) and Luke Adam (1+2) each finished with three points on the night while Dan Catenacci, making his professional debut, picked up his first pro points with a goal and an assist. Defenseman Nick Bailen registered the first multi-point game of his career with two assists on the night, and goaltender David Leggio stopped 29 of 30 shots to earn the win. Maxime Legault and Evan Rankin (1+1) rounded out the scoring for Rochester, while Olivier Archambault scored the lone Hamilton goal.
In a first period that featured multiple power play chances for both teams, the Amerks scored the only marker on a goal by Adam. With the Amerks skating on a 4-on-3 advantage, Varone set Bailen up for a one-timer, and the rookie out of RPI blasted a shot through traffic that Adam tipped in past Hamilton goalie Dustin Tokarski to give Rochester a 1-0 lead at 18:41 of the opening period.
The Amerks extended their lead to 2-0 early in the second period as Catenacci scored his first career goal at 3:31 of the middle frame. Varone picked up his second assist of the night as Catenacci tipped in his shot after Varone had collected a drop pass from Rankin and quickly snapped it on net.
Archambault got Hamilton on the board later in the second period with his first AHL goal. The rookie sprinted up the middle of the ice, through the neutral zone and in on Leggio with two Amerk defenders in close pursuit. Patrick Rissmiller was able to catch Archambault and poked the puck off the Bulldog forward's stick, but the puck hit a skate and bounced right back to Archambault, who regained possession at the top of the crease and swept it past Leggio for the goal.
Rochester went back up by two goals at 12:57 of the second period as Varone scored to record his third point of the night. Bailen wound up for a slap shot from the right point, but instead of shooting, passed across to Adam at the left face-off dot. Adam then fired a slap shot that trickled through Tokarski and came to rest in the crease. Varone was there to quickly pounce on the loose puck and slam it home for the goal.
Rochester tacked on two more goals in the third period as Adam set up Legault on a 2-on-1 to make it a 4-1 game. Rankin then capped things off on another 2-on-1 rush, capitalizing on a feed from Catenacci.
The Amerks will bring the 2012-13 regular season to a close on Sunday, April 21 when they travel to Hamilton to face-off with the Bulldogs again. Game time is slated for 3 p.m.
Rochester's playoff opponent and schedule won't be determined until after the season finale.
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