Guhle Scores as Amerks Drop First of Two with Marlies
(Toronto, ON) - Newcomer Brendan Guhle became the third different player to score his first professional goal this week for the Rochester Americans, but it wasn't enough as the Amerks dropped the first of two meetings against the league-leading Toronto Marlies by a 3-1 score Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum. Rochester falls to 34-37-3-1 heading into Sunday's regular season finale against the Marlies.
Guhle's first pro goal was assisted by Justin Bailey and team captain Cal O'Reilly, who recorded the 400th point of his AHL career, while Nathan Lieuwen made 21 saves in the loss.
Toronto scored once in each period on goals from Matt Frattin, T.J. Brennan and Rinat Valiev while Connor Brown, last year's top scoring rookie, contributed two assists for the Marlies. Antoine Bibeau stopped all but one of the 34 shots he faced for Toronto, earning his eighth win over his last nine starts while improving to 28-9-1 overall.
The AHL's top-ranked offense jumped on the Amerks early, scoring just 3:12 into the contest to take a 1-0 lead on a play that began and ended with Frattin. As the Marlies gained the Rochester blueline, Frattin advanced the puck up to Mark Arcobello for a quick release that was met by the blocker of Lieuwen. Brown won the race to the rebound at the left edge of the crease and tapped it back to an oncoming Frattin, who flipped it over the defenseless netminder for his 13th of the season.
Toronto carried the one-goal advantage throughout the remainder of the opening frame while holding a 10-8 advantage in shots.
Despite falling behind early, the Amerks came out of the gate flying to begin the second, nearly tying the score just minutes in as Eric Cornel was left all alone in front following a 2-on-1 fast break. Cornel was able to get the shot off, but Bibeau flashed his glove at the last second to snare it out of the air. Minutes later, Cole Schneider slipped behind the Toronto defense after taking a long stretch pass from O'Reilly, but Bibeau was again equal to the task.
Rochester would eventually break through at the 8:01 mark when Guhle steered in a goal-mouth feed from Bailey to put the Amerks on the board. Guhle, Buffalo's second-round pick in last June's NHL Draft, becomes the third different Amerk in as many games to score their first pro goals this week, joining Stu Wilson and Giorgio Estephan. More impressively, the 18-year-old defenseman now shows four points (1+3) in his first five games with Rochester, including a pair of assists in last Saturday's overtime loss to Lake Erie.
Toronto retook the lead for good at 16:04 of the second stanza on a power-play goal from Brennan. After making a slick play at the blueline to keep the puck in the offensive zone, Brennan, named the AHL's top defenseman for the second time in three years, floated a wrister on net that saw its way through traffic and past a screened Lieuwen.
The Amerks appeared to the tie game again on a goal from Estephan, but video review provided enough evidence to overturn the call before Valiev restored Toronto's two-goal advantage with 5:13 remaining in the third.
Rochester pulled Lieuwen for the extra attacker with less than a minute to play, but the Marlies withstood the final push and held on for the 3-1 win.
The same two teams meet again for the second time in as many days as the Amerks and Marlies bring the 2015-16 regular season to a close in the back-end of a two-game set at Ricoh Coliseum. The 3:00 p.m. matinee will be the eighth and final meeting between the North Division rivals and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull.
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