Courtesy of Amerks.com
TORONTO, ON — C.J. Smith recorded his second career hat trick and factored in on four of the five goals for the Rochester Americans (23-13-2-0), who turned the tables with a 5-1 victory over the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies (19-15-3-2) in the second half of a home-and-home series between the North Division rivals Saturday afternoon at Coca-Cola Coliseum.
Today’s matinee was the first game north of the border after Rochester hosted the first three games of the season series. The Amerks have now won five of their last eight games and widened their lead atop the AHL’s North Division standing by a three-point margin.
Smith, who was reassigned yesterday by the parent Buffalo Sabres, tied a career-high as he scored three goals – including the eventual game-winner – to go with an assist, while Zach Redmond registered a pair of helpers in the victory. Kevin Porter (1+1) also turned in a multi-point effort for Rochester, which improved to 4-1-0-0 this season in the head-to-head matchup against the AHL’s defending champions. Victor Olofssoncompleted the scoring on the day as goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who has gotten the nod in nine of the last 12 games for the Amerks, upped his record to 14-7-1 as he stopped 26 of 27 shot he faced.
The Marlies, who have won five of their last seven games, got on the scoreboard thanks to Trevor Moore’s team-leading 19th goal of the campaign, while netminder Michael Garteig made 29 saves.
Moments after drawing the first penalty of the afternoon, the Amerks, who came into the contest having scored 13 power-play goals in the last 10 games, capitalized on the man-advantage at the 13:25 mark of the stanza.
Parked atop the right point, Smith banged in a one-time feed from Porter to put Rochester in front with 6:36 remaining.
After taking a 1-0 lead into the dressing room following the first period, the Amerks came out in the middle frame and quickly grabbed a two-goal cushion exactly five minutes in.
While maintaining the puck in the offensive zone, Redmond sent a back-door pass to Smith, who was left all alone to the right of the netminder as he came off the bench. Without hesitation after collecting the puck, the Amerks reigning Rookie of the Year tucked a shot inside the left post, doubling the Amerks’ lead.
Smith’s second goal of the day gave him his seventh multi-point effort of the season while Redmond also earned his seventh multi-point outing with his second straight assist.
Facing a 2-0 deficit, the Marlies spoiled Wedgewood’s bid for a shutout 2:43 into the third period only to see the Amerks counter with a pair of power-play goals 2:16 apart to break the game open.
Much like in the first period, the Amerks benefitted from the man-advantage as Porter and Olofsson each lit the lamp while on the power-play to make it a 4-1 score with 13:30 left in regulation.
It was the eighth time this season Rochester recorded two or more tallies on the man-advantage.
In one final last-ditch effort to mount a comeback, Garteig was pulled for the extra attacker, but Smith sealed the 5-1 win as he slipped the puck into the vacant net from Jack Dougherty to complete the hat trick and cap a four-point performance.
Today’s matchup was the fourth game this season between the two clubs in which the winning team has scored five goals.
The Amerks continue their three-game road swing as they travel to Pennsylvania for a pair of matchups, beginning on Friday, Jan. 18 when they meet up with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before facing the Lehigh Valley Phantoms the next night. Both of the 7:05 p.m. contests will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: C.J. Smith (14, 15 – GWG, 16), Porter (6), Olofsson (11)
TOR: Moore (19)
ROC: Wedgewood – 26/27 (W)
TOR: Garteig – 29/33 (L)
ROC: PP (3/7) | PK (3/3)
TOR: PP (0/3)| PK (4/7)