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Amerks Weekly - Apr 15 - Apr 21

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The Amerks officially finish the regular season in second place in the division and will face Toronto in round one

Micheline Velovolu | Rochester Americans

Amerks Round 1 Playoff Schedule (Best of Five Series)

  • Friday 4/19 - 7:05pm - vs Toronto Marlies
  • Sunday 4/21 - 3:05pm - vs Toronto Marlies
  • Wednesday 4/24 - 7:00pm - at Toronto Marlies
  • Friday 4/26 - 7:00pm - at Toronto Marlies (if necessary)
  • Sunday 4/28 - 5:05pm - vs Toronto Marlies (if necessary)

AHL North Division Final Regular Season Standings for 2018-2019

The Amerks went 1-1-1-0 last week.

Overall, the Amerks finished second in the North division and third in both the Eastern Conference and the League.

With their win at Belleville on Sunday, the team tied a franchise record with 25 road wins.

What Happened Last Week?

Record Apr 8-Apr 14: 1-1-1-0

The Amerks entered the week with a very real chance to win the North division and secure home ice for both Rounds 1 and 2 of the playoffs.

Even with a loss on Friday night (to 30th place Binghamton), the Amerks were still alive in the fight, as they traveled to Syracuse for the teams twelfth and final regular season meeting of the year. They carried a tie game deep into the third period before Syracuse, with under five minutes to play, scored two goals within two minutes of each other to secure the win and the division title. Both teams finished the season with matching 6-4-1-1 records against each other. Just one more win for the Amerks in any of those four regulation losses would’ve been enough to win the division, further demonstrating that every game is important, from opening night onward.

On Sunday, the Amerks rested nine players, called in five reserves from Cincy, travelled to Belleville, gave a 20 year old goalie his first professional start, and easily dispatched the Senators 4-2 in a win-and-your-in game for them. That’s an impressive end to the season, considering the circumstances.

The Amerks have struggled at home for much of the season, so there is sentiment among some fans that it might be better off that they didn’t win the division, should they make it out of Round 1, leaving them with either a home-ice disadvantage versus Syracuse or retaining home-ice advantage against Cleveland.

Either way, they’ll have to get there first.

Bright Spots

  • Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (G) - As expected, following the end of his OHL season the Sabres assigned UPL to Rochester where he signed an Amateur Try Out contract to allow him to play in the remainder of their season.
    What was slightly unexpected is that UPL earned his first AHL start and first professional win when he was asked to play on Sunday in Belleville. He stopped 32 of 34 shots en route to a 4-2 victory. He will remain with the team and Chris Taylor says he is officially the team’s third goaltender.
  • Victor Olofsson (F) - Living up to the #GOALOFSSON nickname, Victor scored two goals on Saturday night to reach the 30 goal plateau! He became the first Amerks player to reach that mark since Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both did it in 2004-05.
  • Kurt Gosselin (D) - Most of us weren’t sure what to expect out of Kurt Gosselin after the team signed him following the end of his NCAA season, but he has stepped in and impressed in his short time with the team. He’s looked so good, in fact, that as of Wednesday he was expected to be in the starting lineup for the playoffs.
  • Casey Fitzgerald (D) - Also on Sunday in Belleville, Fitzgerald scored his first professional goal. He has looked very good in his first few games and he’ll almost certainly be a big part of the Amerks team in 2019-20.
  • Jacob Bryson (D) - Another new face in town, Bryson was assigned to Rochester after signing his Entry Level Contract with the Sabres. He is not expected to get any games this season, but will accompany the team throughout the playoffs to get familiar with the players and the system.

Room For Improvement

  • All is forgiven from the regular season! It’s time to leave the past behind and focus on the playoffs.

Look Ahead: it’s playoff time!

Who to watch?

According to LetsGoAmerks.com, these were the lines/pairings from Wednesday’s practice:

  • C.J. Smith - Kevin Porter - Wayne Simpson
  • Victor Olofsson - Rasmus Asplund - Danny O’Regan
  • Taylor Leier - Kyle Criscuolo - Tage Thompson
  • Remi Elie - Yannick Veilleux - Dalton Smith
  • Lawrence Pilut - Zach Redmond
  • Andrew MacWilliam - William Borgen
  • Kurt Gosselin - Matt Tennyson
  • Scott Wedgewood
  • Adam Wilcox

This has raised quite a few questions.

  • Are these for real, or are the coaches strategically trying to throw off the Marlies’ game planning?
  • Eric Cornel was the only Amerks player to play in all 76 regular season games... and he’s potentially being left off the Game 1 roster. Is that a wise move?
  • Is Alex Nylander’s injury more serious than the team/organization is letting on?
  • Kurt Gosselin has only eight pro games under his belt, but he has assists in three straight; is that enough to justify starting him over Jack Dougherty? On this week’s BTB Podcast, Keith Wozniak suggests the team is choosing strong L/R d-pairings and that might be the reason Gosselin gets the start.
  • Casey Fitzgerald has put up 1+2=3 in his first four professional games and has not looked one bit out of place stepping into a veteran lineup as a rookie. Will he get into a playoff game?
  • What about Sean Malone? He only played in 38 games for the Amerks this season, but he’s reliable on faceoffs and brings valuable playoff experience from last season.
  • Dalton Smith?
  • Just kidding; that’s not a question. I fully support Dalton Smith in the lineup on any given night. My initial line projections did not include an energy line, choosing instead to role four lines that could all put the puck in the net, but it’s hard to argue against adding some toughness to the roster, at least for Game 1 at home, where you can expect Toronto to come in and try to stir things up and steal a road win.
  • How short of a leash do Wedgewood and Wilcox have, with UPL waiting in the wings as the third goaltender?

In the regular season, the Amerks finished with a 5-1 record vs the Marlies, including going 3-0 in Toronto. The winning team scored five goals in each of those six games, so there’s the potential for this to be a high scoring series.

Finally, after meeting him only one time in Toronto during the regular season, Friday will be Nick Baptiste’s first return to Rochester since being traded away to Nashville last summer (and subsequently traded by Nashville to Toronto at the deadline). I expect the crowd to give him a short warm welcome... before we cheer for him to lose.

Also, LetsGoAmerks.com has a nice playoff preview that’s worth a look. Short but informative.

How to watch?

Road playoff games for Round 1 will be carried live on MSG!!!

The AHL did announce their playoff packages for their vastly improved AHLTV service. If you’re interested, you can subscribe to a package at https://www.watchtheahl.com/.

  • Daily passes for $7.99 each will get you access to all games on a single day.
  • Playoff pass for $24.99 will get you access to watch ALL playoff games from all teams for the duration of the playoffs.

Better yet, if you’re in the area, get over to Blue Cross Arena for a game! Plenty of tickets are still available at the links in the tweet below:

Transactions

Video Room

Game 74 - 4/12/2019 - Home OT Loss vs Binghamton Devils

Game 75 - 4/13/2019 - Away Loss at Syracuse Crunch

Game 76 - 4/14/2019 - Away Win at Belleville Senators

Injury Report

  • Andrew Oglevie (F) - Upper Body - Unknown - Done for the season.
  • Alexander Nylander (F) - Lower Body - Unknown - The team has been very tight-lipped about the supposed cut on the back of Nylander’s leg.

Team Awards

Before last Friday night’s home finale, on Fan Appreciation Night, the Amerks held their 2018-2019 Team Awards ceremony.

  • Scoring Champion: Victor Olofsson (30+33=63 in 66 games)
  • Most Valuable Player: Zach Redmond
  • Rookie of the Year: Rasmus Asplund
  • Most Game Winning Goals: Zach Redmond & Victor Olofsson (9 each)
  • Most Improved Player: Rasmus Asplund
  • Unsung Hero: Wayne Simpson (toot my own horn... I called this one last week)
  • Man of the Year (community service, etc): Nathan Paetsch
  • Booster Club Most Popular Player: Zach Redond
  • Sportsmanship award: Danny O’Regan

Additionally, Zach Redmond was recognized by the league with two honors. He was named a 1st Team All-Star as well as earning the Eddie Shore award for the AHL’s top defenseman - the first Amerk to win the award in 54 years (Al Arbour). Redmond led the Amerks defense with an impressive 50 points in 58 games (21+29) despite missing 18 games due to injury. He also set a new franchise record for goals by a defenseman.

Farmville

The Cincinnati Cyclones finished the regular season with a stunning 51-13-5-3 record and earned the Brabham Cup for having the league’s best record!

The Cyclones are currently in Round 1 of the ECHL playoffs and are leading their series 2-1 against the Kalamazoo Wings.

The ECHL Playoff Bracket can be viewed here.

Additionally, Jesse Schultz was awarded the ECHL League MVP award for his impressive season!

Old Friends

Still Playing:

  • Nicholas Baptiste: 12+10=22 in 55 games with Milwaukee / 2+5=7 in 18 games with Toronto.
  • Colin Blackwell: 14+12=26 in 43 games with Milwaukee / 0+0=0 in 6 games with NHL Nashville Predators.
  • Taylor Fedun: 1+2=3 in 3 games with Texas / 4+7=11 in 54 games with NHL Dallas Stars. 0+0=0 in 2 NHL playoff games.

Done for the year:

  • Justin Bailey: 6+2=8 in 17 games with Lehigh Valley / 0+1=1 in 11 games with NHL Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Hudson Fasching: 16+17=33 in 64 games with Tucson.
  • Seth Griffith: 16+41=67 in 69 games with Manitoba.
  • Brendan Guhle: 0+1=1 in 8 games with NHL Anaheim Ducks.
  • Matt Moulson: 28+34=62 in 68 games with Ontario.
  • Jordan Nolan: 17+18=35 in 59 games with San Antonio / 0+2=2 in 14 games with NHL St. Louis Blues.
  • Cliff Pu: 1+5=6 in 44 games with Charlotte. / 2+3=5 in 5 games with ECHL Florida Everblades / 1+1=2 in 9 games with Springfield.

Question of the Week

What is your series prediction for Round 1?