Marlies open Calder Cup playoffs with a win

Jerry D’Amigo scores twice including winning goal
Apr. 19: Marlies 4 vs. Rochester 3

Marlies scorers: D’Amigo 2 (2), Frattin (1), Zigomanis (1)
Americans scorers: Varone (1), Foligno (1), Brennan (1)
Links: Box Score | Discussion boards

Forward lines:: Hamilton-Zigomanis-Kadri, Ashton-Colborne-Frattin, D’Amigo-Dupuis-Deschamps, Scott-Acton-Rosehill
Defence pairings: Percy-Gardiner, Fraser-Holzer, Mikus-Gysbers
Goaltenders: Scrivens (Win 59:55 minutes played, 20 saves, 3 GA) Rynnas (0:00)

Recap:
A common echo is that, once again, there is no playoff hockey in Toronto. 6,244 fans at Ricoh Coliseum disagree.

By locking up the second seed in the AHL’s Western Conference, the Marlies earned the privilege of choosing to open their best-of-five conference quarter-final against the Rochester Americans on home ice. The hometown fans did not go home disappointed. Jerry D’Amigo’s goal with 4:17 remaining in regulation was the game-winning marker in a 4-3 Toronto victory.

The goal was set up by Marlies defenceman Mark Fraser who had a partial breakaway coming out of the penalty box after serving an interference minor. Fraser was hooked by a Rochester defender drawing a delayed penalty, perhaps even a potential penalty shot. However Fraser managed to get the pass over to D’Amigo on the two-on-one, and no mistake was made in finding the open goal.

“It was a great play, I was at the end of my shift and wondering if I should go or not,” said D’Amigo. “I saw Fraser and he was going hard there, so I figured I might as well. He made a great pass and made it pretty easy for me to find the open net.”

The goal – D’Amigo’s second of the game – capped off yet another outing between the two North Division rivals decided by the slimmest of margins. All 11 games played between Toronto and Rochester this season, including ten regular season meetings, have been decided by one goal.

All but two of the game’s goals were scored in the final twenty minutes. The first period saw the Marlies have a territorial edge, but Americans goalie David Leggio was unbeatable in the opening frame. Rochester’s Phil Varone put his team up 1-0 by deflecting a point shot.

Leggio continued his heroics in the second period, stopping all but one of the 18 shots directed his way. The most highlight worthy of the saves was a glove hand thievery of Joe Colborne skating down the left side and trying to pick the top corner. D’Amigo finally got the Marlies on the board by converting a pass from the corner made by Nicolas Deschamps.

The floodgates opened in the third period, with Matt Frattin and Mike Zigomanis both suddenly solving Leggio. It seemed that Zigomanis’ power-play marker would provide some insurance, but the Americans showed their resilience in storming back with a pair of goals of their own. The game remained knotted at 3-3 before D’Amigo’s game-clincher.

“Jerry’s had a great season for us,” said coach Dallas Eakins of D’Amigo’s play. “Last year he maybe came in a little too early. I think him going back to junior (Kitchener – OHL) got his confidence up. And he has just played excellent this year. He’s been one of our top two penalty-killers on a unit that was number one in the league. His ability to drive the net and get those dirty goals and dirty chances has been huge for us.”

The game was the Marlies home debut for defenceman Stuart Percy, who played his lone game of the regular season in the club’s final outing in Abbotsford just last Sunday. Percy, who turns 19 next month, was eligible to be called up after his junior team the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors was eliminated from the OHL playoffs, and was paired with Jake Gardiner on the blueline.

“He’s a great skater and he’s great with the puck, I just try to support him.” said Percy of his defence partner. “I try to get good reads off him and I think we complement each other well.”

Game Two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 3pm at Ricoh Coliseum.

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