We’re back for 2019-2020 to bring you as much Amerks coverage as possible. You may have already noticed that Die By The Blade’s Ryan Wolfe will be sharing weekly Amerks recap/review posts. I’ll continue with my standard Amerks Weekly post (typically on Wednesdays) which will serve as more of a general “state of the team” post as well as providing previews for the upcoming week’s games. Thanks for your continued support and I always welcome recommendations in the comments should there be anything in particularly you’d like me to focus on in a future post.
Amerks Games This Week
- Friday - 10/18 - 7:05pm - vs Cleveland (2-2-0-0)
- Saturday - 10/19 - 7:00pm - at Utica (2-0-0-0)
AHL North Division Standings as of October 16th
The Amerks went 3-1-0-0 to open the season and are tied for first place in the AHL’s North Division.
What Happened Last Week?
Record Oct 4-Oct 15: 3-1-0-0
Also notable: Gord Dineen remains the interim head coach while Chris Taylor is still assisting behind the Sabres bench pending the recovery of Don Granato. So far it doesn’t seem as though the team has seen any ill effects from the unexpected change - as well they shouldn’t; Dineen has been with the team for several years, is very familiar with the system put in place by Ralph Kreuger and Taylor, and has plenty of head coaching experience himself.
It’s still too early to tell if the Amerks will be able to fully replace the loss of goals due to the exits of players such as Victor Oloffson, Danny O’Regan, Wayne Simpson, and Alex Nylander (83 goals among them), but so far so good, with Tage Thompson and a healthy Andrew Oglevie leading the way with two goals each.
- Tage Thompson: 2+3=5 in 4 games. I’ve decided to bestow the nickname “Judgement Day” on Tage. Pretty much all this kid has done since joining Rochester at the end of last season is put up points and score big goals. 10 goals in 15 games, to be exact. His two playoff goals last season were half of the team total during their first round sweep against Toronto.
Obviously it’s still very early in the season, but Tage is doing exactly what he needs to be doing so far. Most importantly, he’s not pouting about being in Rochester. He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and putting in the work to prove to the Sabres that he should be at or near the top of the recall list.
His skating still has room for improvement and there have been a few shifts where he’s appeared as though he’s not quite used to moving all the bulk he added to his frame over the summer, but once he gets a handle on that, look out... it’s Judgement Day.
- Andrew Hammond: Signing “The Hamburglar” wasn’t seen as a big splash in the free agent market, but so far he’s been absolutely lights out for the Amerks. Undefeated with three wins and sparkling stats (1.60 GAA and .941 SV%), Hammond is giving the team rock solid goal keeping, but it doesn’t stop there; his puck handling skills are far beyond anything we’ve seen in Rochester in a long time. Of course that style of play is high risk/high reward. The gif below is an extreme example, and a play such as this could go very wrong, but so far it’s been all good. Most often he’s just quickly and accurately moving the puck from his crease or inside the triangle to a skater to spring a clean zone exit.
Andrew Hammond gave us a mini heart attack early but he knew what he was doing and beat Cory Conacher to the puck. pic.twitter.com/UfyLOsgou3— Let's Go Amerks (@LetsGoAmerks) October 5, 2019
- Jacob Bryson: This kid has a total of four professional games under his belt and he’s already playing with the poise of a seasoned vet. Solid in his own end (+1) he’s also demonstrated great vision on zone exits, including a few beautiful breakout passes, such as this assist to JS Dea for a goal on Saturday night.
This weekend the Amerks will begin their season series’ against two divisional foes; Cleveland comes to town on Friday night and then the team will hit the road to meet Utica on Saturday night. In 2019-20, they’ll face each of these teams the same number of times as last season: 8 games against Cleveland and 10 games against Utica.
Last season, the Amerks dominated Cleveland, going 6-2 in their season series. Cleveland’s roster is largely unchanged, including old friends Zac Dalpe (55 pts in 55 games last season) and Nathan Gerbe (32 points in 41 games). Gerbe’s season was cut short due to injury but he is fully healthy now and will look to pick up where he left off vs Rochester; he put up 2+2=4 in four games against the Amerks last season.
The Amerks went 7-3 against Utica in 2018-19, but Utica could be vastly improved this season, most notably with the addition of 2016 NHL 5th overall draft pick: defenseman Ollie Juolevi. He only saw 18 games of action last season but put up an impressive 13 points in that time. Optimists expect Juolevi to make the jump to Vancouver sooner rather than later, which would be good news for the Amerks. This game will also be the first time the Amerks see old friend Justin Bailey wearing blue and green. Following his trade to Philadelphia last season, the Flyers did not offer him a new contract and he subsequently signed a one-year two-way contract with Vancouver.
It’s early in the season so these games will be our first chance to see how the Amerks match up against each of these division rivals.
- October 13, 2019 - Curtis Lazar (F) - ⬆️ from Rochester to Buffalo
- October 14, 2019 - Michael Houser (G) - ⬆️ from Cincinnati to Rochester
Game 1 - 10/4/2019 - Home Win (OT) vs Syracuse
Game 2 - 10/11/2019 - Away Win at Springfield
Game 3 - 10/12/2019 - Away Loss at Providence
Game 4 - 10/13/2019 - Away Win (SO) at Hartford
- Lawrence Pilut - Shoulder - Week-to-Week. Pilut is nearly recovered from his offseason shoulder surgery, has been skating with the Amerks for about 2 weeks, and is slated for a return to game action in the near future. How long he stays in Rochester may depend on the status of the defensive logjam in Buffalo.
- Taylor Leier - Shoulder - Month-to-Month. Leier also had offseason shoulder surgery, but he is not expected back until sometime in December.
- Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen - Hips - Week-to-Week. Reports are that UPL’s recovery and rehab are on schedule and we can expect him to take the ice sometime in November.
The Cincinnati Cyclones are 1-0-0-0 as they start their quest to return to the top of the ECHL and avenge last season’s premature ending. They finished 2018-2019 with the best record in the league but fell to rival Toledo in the second round of the playoffs.
- Justin Bailey: 1+0=1 in 2 games with AHL Utica
- Nicholas Baptiste: 0+2=2 in 2 games with AHL Toronto.
- Kyle Criscuolo: 0+1=1 in 3 games with AHL Lehigh Valley
- Jack Dougherty: 1+0=1 in 2 games with AHL Belleville
- Brendan Guhle: 0+2=2 in 4 games with NHL Anaheim
- Alexander Nylander: 2+0=2 in 3 games with NHL Chicago
- Danny O’Regan: 0+5=5 in 4 games with AHL Hartford
- Matt Tennyson: 0+0=0 in 1 game with AHL Binghamton, 0+0=0 in 1 game with NHL New Jersey
- Scott Wedgewood: 1-0-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .969 SV% in 1 game with AHL Syracuse