The Rochester Americans travel to the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, Canada this afternoon for a contest against their North Division rivals, the Toronto Marlies, the same team that ended the Amerks season in three straight games less than six months ago.
Today’s game is the season opener for the Marlies and it marks the first road game of this young season and the second game in as many nights for Rochester. Last night the Amerks hosted the Syracuse Crunch, the farm team of the Tampa Bay Lightning in a hard fought contest that needed a shoot out to determine the winner. Mark Mancari clinched the victory for the Amerks, which look for back to back wins to start the year.
Coach Ron Rolston brings the Rochester Americans into the 2012-2013 season with a mix of veteran leadership and exciting newcomers. Players such as Drew Schiestel and Mark Mancari have the much needed experience to help lead the way for up and coming prospects like defenseman Mark Pysyk, the Buffalo Sabres first round draft pick in 2010, and forward Zemgus Girgensons, the 14th overall pick in the 2012 draft.
The mix between veterans, first year players, and the young Buffalo Sabres such as Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno who were sent down to Rochester during the lockout, should provide a solid foundation for a strong run for the Calder Cup.
The Toronto Marlies are coming off one of their most successful seasons in their seven year history. Head coach Dallas Eakins guided the Marlies to the Western Conference title and a chance to play the Norfolk Admirals in the Calder Cup finals.
Although being swept in four games, strong veteran play from players like Mike Zigomanis and Ryan Hamilton give the fans of the Toronto Marlies and their parent team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, a great chance to take the next step and become AHL champions.
Last years regular season series between the two clubs was won quite handily by Toronto,by a 7-3 count, but each game was a close contest with all ten games being decided by one goal, and four of them going into overtime.
With each team adding new prospects and their young players gaining more experience, more close, hard fought games are expected throughout the 2012-2013 season.