David Leggio steered his team through a barrage of shots in the first period before his teammates found their scoring touch.
The Rochester goaltender made 16 of his 26 saves in the opening period, and Brian Flynn scored the game-winning goal, as the Rochester Americans defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-1 in American Hockey League action on Wednesday.
"We did a good job of limiting their scoring chances, but we had the lead and it was important to get out of (the first) period with it," Leggio said.
"We continued to play the right way and we focused on playing a disciplined game. I think we did that, especially when we got the lead."
Nick Tarnasky, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and T.J. Brennan added goals for Rochester (8-4-1).
Joonas Nattinen had the lone goal for Hamilton (4-5-2).
The Americans opened the scoring early in the first after a goal-mouth scramble. Centre Rick Schofield misfired on a shot, but the puck dribbled to Tarnasky, who easily slotted it past a downed Mayer at 2:27.
Hamilton allowed the first goal of the game for the ninth time in 11 contests this season.
The hosts responded with a period of extended pressure following a cross-checking penalty to the visitors' Alex Biega at 3:21.
Bulldog winger Mike Blunden had the clearest chance of the flurry, but could only find the post with his wrist shot from the slot.
The action-packed first period featured only one goal but 28 total shots and ten combined penalties.
Hamilton saw the first period as a missed opportunity.
"We had some chances and some good shots but their goalie shut the door on us," said Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre.
"If we score one or two goals, it's a different game. But we made things tough on ourselves in the second period."
Rochester doubled its advantage at 4:12 of the second, when Kevin Porter streaked down the left wing and found Flynn with a long cross-ice pass. Flynn received the puck in the high slot and beat Mayer with a wrist shot over the blocking arm.
The visitors nearly scored another goal nine minutes into the period, but a scrambling Mayer was saved by a timely block from defender Antoine Corbin in the crease.
Rochester found that third goal three and a half minutes later, when Porter cycled the puck out to Gauthier-Leduc on the blue-line and the defenceman's shot bounced through traffic and past a screened Mayer at 12:35.
The goaltender's miserable afternoon came to an end when the Americans scored their fourth goal of the game at 15:14 of the second. The Americans made the most of a three-man rush, with Brennan slotting the puck past Mayer following a series of short passes.
Mayer was removed from the game and replaced by recently signed rookie Scott Darling after allowing four goals on 22 shots.
Bulldogs scored a consolation goal -- Nattinen's first of the season -- at 17:35 of the third period.
It was a heartbreaking moment for Leggio, who lost his shutout bid with 2:25 remaining. But the goaltender dismissed any discussion of his missed opportunity.
"It would obviously be nice to have gotten the shutout, but first thing's first, we got the win," Leggio said.
"If it wasnt for how well the guys played, I wouldn't have even been in the position to get that shutout. I've just got to make that save, but it didn't affect the outcome of the game."
The Bulldogs squandered all five of their power plays on Wednesday, and have now converted on only four of 48 man-advantages this season (8.3 per cent).
Lefebvre acknowledged that his team must improve with the man-advantage, but saw encouraging evidence in Wednesday's power play performance.
"We have to bear down on chances that we have and sometimes maybe we squeeze down a little too hard on the stick," he said. "But it's part of the process, and we're going to keep working on it."
"Tonight, the power play moved the puck around and we had some shots. We just couldn't get enough rebounds."
Hamilton was a perfect four-for-four on the penalty kill and extended its streak of successive kills to 17 over the past four games.
Attendance for the 10 a.m. ET "School Game" was announced as 10,649, most of whom were young Hamilton-area students.