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Amerks Weekly - Dec 17-Dec 23

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Two wins over Cleveland help the Amerks expand their division lead.

Micheline Velovolu | Rochester Americans

Amerks Games This Week

  • Wednesday 12/19 - 7:05pm - vs Belleville Senators (12-15-2-0)
  • Friday 12/21 - 7:05pm - vs Hartford Wolfpack (11-14-1-2)
  • Saturday 12/22 - 7:05pm - vs Hartford Wolfpack (11-14-1-2)

AHL North Division Standings as of December 17th

The Amerks went 2-1-0-0 last week and retained control of the North Division. The Crunch still have three games in hand, but as of today the Amerks still lead in both points and points percentage. They have a nice cushion over third place Utica (who has played three more games) and the weekend sweep against Cleveland boosted the gap to a full eight points over them, the fourth place team.

The Amerks remain in second place in both the Eastern Conference and the league overall, behind only the Charlotte Checkers.

What Happened Last Week?

Record Dec 10-Dec 16: 2-1-0-0

While the loss to Binghamton was perhaps their ugliest performance of the season, they quickly rebounded with two huge wins against Cleveland, the team that was previously directly behind them in the standings. As the saying goes: the easiest way to stay on top of the standings is to beat the teams that are behind you.

Bright Spots

  • The coaching staff is doing an admirable job as the team navigates a series of injuries and NHL recalls that have taken their toll on the Amerks’ roster. Lawrence Pilut, Brendan Guhle, and Matt Tennyson all remain in Buffalo while Kevin Porter, Kyle Criscuolo, and Andrew Oglevie are all nursing injuries in Rochester.
  • Danny O’Regan now has 10 goals on the season and ranks second on the team in that category, behind only Zach Redmond. He has played on a line with Rasmus Asplund and Victor Olofsson for nearly every game this season.
  • Scott Wedgewood returned from his recall to Buffalo to play his first game in almost two weeks and he stopped 42 shots on his way to a Ryan Miller shutout.

Room For Improvement

  • Despite the wins, special teams play is regressing. The PK dropped three spots to rank 26th in the league and the PP dropped four spots to 18th position.
  • We saw two more games in which the Amerks gave up late third period goals, one of which ruined a shutout for Adam Wilcox and resulted in overtime (gifting a point to a division rival), and the other ruined a great shutout performance by Scott Wedgewood.
  • I mentioned last week that the Amerks were in need of a playmaking center - proposing Myles Powell as an option... and then the Amerks recalled Powell; he centered the fourth line in Friday night’s win, but was a healthy scratch on Saturday night. On a related note, something interesting happened on Saturday night: Sean Malone got a promotion to first line center and Chris Taylor used C.J. Smith to center the second line, between Alexander Nylander and Justin Bailey. They seemed to find some chemistry. We’ll have to keep our eyes on this to see if Smith stays in that position going forward.

Look Ahead

While November was a relatively quiet month (most weeks were only two games) December is in full swing. Every week in December includes a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday game for the Amerks.

This week features three home games against Eastern Conference bottom dwellers, with Belleville visiting on Wednesday night and Hartford rolling in for a two-fer on Friday and Saturday nights. The Amerks have a great opportunity to walk out of this week with six more points while Syracuse has three tough games against much more difficult opponents.

The midpoint in the AHL season is quickly approaching and the Amerks - despite being depleted due to injuries and recalls - should be expected to collect every possible point when they match up against lesser opponents.

The Belleville game is notable as it is their first meeting since Belleville ended the Amerks’ five-game win streak back in October, when the Amerks blew a third period lead before allowing the Senators to win it just 14-seconds into overtime. It’s time to avenge that loss.

Transactions

  • December 10, 2018 - Myles Powell (F) ⬆️ from Cincinnati to Rochester.
  • December 11, 2018 - Scott Wedgewood (G) ⬇️ from Buffalo to Rochester.
  • December 12, 2018 - Jonas Johansson (G) ⬇️ from Rochester to Cincinnati.
  • December 12, 2018 - Matt Hunwick (D) ⬇️ from Buffalo to Rochester.
  • December 15, 2018 - Matt Hunwick (D) ⬆️ from Rochester to Buffalo.
  • December 16, 2018 - Brendan Guhle (D) ⬆️ from Rochester to Buffalo.
  • December 17, 2018 - Matt Tennyson (D) ⬇️ from Buffalo to Rochester.

Video Room

Game 25 - 12/12/2018 - Home Loss vs Binghamton Devils

Game 26 - 12/14/2018 - Home Win vs Cleveland Monsters

Game 27 - 12/15/2018 - Away Win at Cleveland Monsters

Injury Report

  • Kyle Criscuolo - Lower Body - Week to Week
  • Andrew Oglevie - Concussion - Indefinite
  • Kevin Porter - Lower Body - Week to Week

Farmville

The Cincinnati Cyclones are 18-5-2-1 and remain in first place in their division!

Jonas Johansson is 8-3-1-1 with a 2.51 GAA and an .910 SV%.

Devante Stephens (D) With all the defensive turnover in Rochester, Stephens is chomping at the bit for a promotion, putting up 5+10=15 in 24 games, and his +22 rating ranks third on the team. It seems that he’s developing nicely down in Cincy, but I’ve yet to get a chance to look beyond the stats.

Old Friends

  • Matt Moulson: 8+13=21 in 24 games with Ontario.
  • Nicholas Baptiste: 5+7=12 in 30 games with Milwaukee.
  • Colin Blackwell: 4+0=4 in 11 games with Milwaukee.
  • Cliff Pu: 1+2=3 in 24 games with Charlotte.
  • Seth Griffith: 5+10=15 in 22 games with Manitoba.
  • Jordan Nolan: 7+8=15 in 24 games with San Antonio.
  • Hudson Fasching: 8+9=17 in 26 games with Tucson.
  • Taylor Fedun: 1+2=3 in 3 games with Texas / 1+3=4 in 11 games with NHL Dallas Stars.
    (14 games remaining in Dallas until he generates a seventh-round pick for Buffalo).
    Also notable: he’s still leading the Stars in most advanced stats (obviously in limited and highly-sheltered minutes, small sample size, etc.).

Manufacturing a Rivalry

The Amerks and Cleveland Monsters have only been playing in the same division for about three months so far, but both teams are looking to create a buzz and manufacture a genuine rivalry. Everyone knows real rivalries are created through hard fought wins and losses on the ice, especially in the post season, but these teams are actively working to engage their fanbases and create something that both cities can get excited about.

They’ve launched the “Great Lakes Rivalry Series” which includes a fan-designed trophy that will go to the winner of the annual regular season series between the two squads. If you have a knack for art and/or design and would like to submit a trophy idea, you can do so at this link.

The previously announced Nickelodeon Nights featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be a part of this series.

Americans Made - Victor Olofsson

GOALofsson himself was featured in the latest edition of the Amerks’ “Americans Made” video series.

Question of the Week

If (and it’s a big if) the Sabres and Patrik Berglund are able to part ways, which current Amerks player would you most like to see take his spot, full-time, in Buffalo?