(amerks.com) – Nathan Lieuwen pitched an 18-save shutout as the Rochester Americans dropped the Toronto Marlies 1-0 Saturday night at the Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex in the team’s final tune-up before the regular season. The Amerks finalize their preseason with an even 1-1 record against the Marlies heading into the season opener on Friday, Oct. 10 vs. the Adirondack Flames.
Tim Schaller scored the eventual game-winning goal 8:46 into the first period on an assist from Akim Aliu to provide the Amerks with a lead they would never relinquish.
Antoine Bibeau and Cal Heeter combined to stop 20 shots for the visiting Marlies.
The Amerks jumped ahead early in the first period, when Aliu whipped an area pass up to a cruising Schaller. Schaller accepted the pass, cut towards the net and shoveled a backhand shot past goaltender Bibeau to provide Rochester with its first goal of the evening.
Aliu nearly potted his second point of the night from in close on a wrist shot, but the puck bounced off of the right post and out of harm’s way.
Rochester had a number of chances to add to its lead in the second period, but could not convert for the insurance goal. Matt MacKenzie hit another post midway through the period, while Dan Catenacci appeared to score on a rebound opportunity in front of the net, but the official had blown the whistle prior to the puck crossing the line.
In a penalty-filled third period, Lieuwen was at his best. With the Amerks on the man-advantage midway through the final frame, Lieuwen made back-to-back strong saves on Toronto odd-man rushes to preserve the lead. The first was a flashing glove save on Toronto forward Denver Manderson, who cruised down the left wing and fired a high shot that was shut down by Lieuwen.
The second save might have been Lieuwen’s best of the night, when the Marlies crashed into the Amerks zone on a 2-on-1 opportunity. A cross-ice pass led to a quality scoring chance, but Lieuwen slid across the crease with the split-save to deny the shot.
Toronto was penalized with consecutive minors in the final five minutes of regulation, and despite pulling their goalie for the final minute, could not find the equalizer.