Varone and Igor Lead the Amerks to a 15 Round Shootout Win (with shootout video)

A week after a horrible weekend collapse the Amerks are now on a three game winning streak heading into the month of March and the final push for the Calder Cup playoffs.  The 15 round shootout win had a bit of everything and it all came together with Igor Gongalsky winning the game in the 15th round of the shootout, one round away from the AHL record.  David Leggio was yet again fantastic with 22 saves in regulation and 13 saves in the shootout.

This was the third straight win for the Amerks and a winning streak that they haven’t had since they won four straight between December 18th and the 28th.  The win bumps the Amerks into a tie for eighth place with the Peoria Rivermen.  It also puts them just three points behind the fourth place Chicago Wolves BUT every team between the Amerks and Wolves in the standings has at least a game in hand.  It’s amazing how things can quickly turn a corner with three wins in a row.

Phil Varone had an assist on all three goals and is now leads the team in points with 36 (8G + 28A) after this game.  Varone is a player who has found a way to envision plays develop and put the puck exactly where it needs to go.  I don’t think anyone could have predicted he’d be at the point he is right now.  Kevin Oklobzija also shared this stat:

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The Amerks beat a high scoring fast skating Hershey team on Wednesday.  They beat the defensive minded Phantoms on Friday and a hard hitting Lake Erie team on Saturday.  They’re adapting to the games of their opponents but also finding ways to play that they want to.

Evan Brophey scored first for the Monsters at 7:12 of the first period with a quick one timer off a great pass through the crease by Greg Mauldin.  The second goal was scored when Eric Hunter faked both Nick Crawford and Brayden McNabb into thinking he was going to circle the back of the net but instead of doubled back and lifted the puck with a backhand between Leggio and the post.

TJ Brennan and Brayden McNabb scored 44 seconds apart in the second period to tie the game 2-2 through the end of the second period.  Phil Varone put a perfect saucer pass across the ice to Brennan who put the puck perfectly in the top right corner.  Evan Rankin had a breakaway stopped by a poke check from Monsters goaltender Gerald Coleman but he was able to continue with the puck behind the net.  Rankin faked one way but went the other and passed to the puck to the goal mouth and Brayden McNabb shot it stick side to tie the game.

There was a lot of hitting, pushing and shoving throughout the entire game but Jacob Lagace and Luke Walker were the only players to drop the gloves and exchange some punches, as seen here:

Brennan scored his 11th of the season and second of the night at 5:43 of the third period to put the Amerks up 3-2 by watching for the rebound and being in perfect position for it.  Varone took a wrist shot from the point and Coleman kicked out the rebound to the left where Brennan was skating in waiting for it.  The goal was scored just as an Amerks power play opportunity expired, an opportunity created by Joe Finley.  Evan Brophey was hacking away at Finley trying to lure him into a fight but Finley was the smarter man and let Brophey take the penalty.

Brad Malone lead the charge for the Monsters down ice and assisted on the game tying goal at 9:55 of the third period.  Malone was being chased by Travis Turnbull and Shaone Morrisonn and was able to pass the puck from behind the goal line to Ryan Stoa who was in front to shoot it past Leggio.

As the game was winding down and there was only 68 seconds left on the clock Luke Adam was sent to the penalty box for a delay of game when he lobbed the puck high in the air and over the glass.  Even though it was a horrendous play the team had his back and killed off the penalty that extended into overtime.

The shootout went 15 rounds with only three Amerks skaters not shooting.  Maxime Legault, Shaone Morrisonn and Joe Finley were the only three Amerks to not shoot.  For the Monsters the only three players were David Liffiton, Mike Brennan and Zack Cohen.

Igor Gongalsky was finally the one to score and win the game which can be seen here:

Shootout – Lake Erie 2 (Rissmiller NG, Stoa NG, Hunter G, Brophey NG, Malone NG, Mauldin NG, Walker NG, Richmond NG, van der Gulik NG, Mercier G, Strong NG, Gaunce NG, Chouinard NG, Charlebois NG, Bordeleau NG), Rochester 3 (Szczechura NG, Adam NG, Brennan NG, Varone G, McNabb NG, Crawford NG, Voakes NG, Rankin NG, Whitmore NG, Foligno G, Persson NG, Turnbull NG, Stuart NG, Lagace NG, Gongalsky G).

Amerks are on the road next Friday against Grand Rapids, Saturday against Toronto and then back at home on Sunday March 4th against Toronto.