Amerks prepare to take big step forward

After reaching the Calder Cup playoffs in back-to-back years, the Rochester Americans are looking to take a bigger step this upcoming season, the third under Head Coach Chris Taylor.

When Jason Botterill was hired as Sabres GM in 2017, he stressed success across all levels of the organization, and Rochester has been a prime example, winning 46 games and earning 99 points last season. Despite their regular-season success, they were swept in the first round for the second straight year, but this year they are primed to make a deep run in the postseason.

Returning to the team this season includes veteran leaders Kevin Porter, Nathan Paetsch, Zach Redmond, and C.J. Smith. While Porter finished with 39 points in 58 games, himself and Paetsch provided a strong leadership role, serving as captain and alternate captain, respectively. Redmond finished last year leading all AHL defensemen in scoring with 21 goals, finishing with 50 total points. Smith finished his second year in the AHL with 28 goals and 58 points, finishing second to Victor Olofsson for the team lead in scoring.

The fresh faces on this year’s team can include league veterans Jean-Sebastian Dea, John Gilmour and Andrew Hammond, all of whom signed with the organization this past summer. Dea arrives in Rochester after playing primarily with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) and Springfield Thunderbirds (FLA), which he scored 44 points in 46 games last year in the AHL. Gilmour is coming off a season which he finished second in the league for scoring by defensemen, finishing behind only Redmond in scoring, with 20 goals and 54 points in 70 games last season for the Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR), all career-highs for Gilmour. In signing a one-year, one-way deal with the Sabres, he will have to clear waivers in order to join the Amerks, if the Sabres make that decision before tomorrow’s deadline.

Ukko Pekka-Luukkonen, who was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft, is set to begin his first pro season. Although he will not start the season after undergoing hip surgery, his performance will be interesting to watch, due to the current status of the Sabres goalies, which included Linus Ullmark signing a 1-year deal after arbitration this past summer. He earned 38 wins for Sudbury in the OHL, setting an OHL record, a .920% save percentage and a 2.50 GAA in 53 games played. While he’s only 20 years old, he will be a player many fans watch as the season progresses.

Hammond, the projected starting goaltender for Rochester heading into the season, won 19 of his 33 games played for the Iowa Wild (MIN), along with a 2.81 goals against average and a .910% save percentage. In the playoffs, he finished with a 5-6 record, 2.46 GAA and .912% save percentage. With the arrival of Luukkonen to North America and entering his first pro season, the goaltending position will provide intrigue for the Amerks and their fans this season.

In order for Rochester to have a successful year and take that much-needed step forward, they will also need to have greater success against teams such as Syracuse, who the Amerks finished second to in the North Division standings last year. They will also need to see greater development from younger players like Will Borgen, Andrew Oglevie, and Rasmus Asplund, who showed improvement near the end of last year.

The performance of their goalies will be an important focal point to their overall performance, with Hammond being brought into the fold, and Lukkonen’s arrival, and how he performs will play a decisive role in the success they achieve this season.

10/04/19vs. Syracuse CrunchW 3-2 (OT)
10/11/19@ Springfield ThunderbirdsW 2-1
10/12/19@ Providence BruinsL 3-2
10/13/19@ Hartford Wolf PackW 3-2 (SO)
10/18/19vs. Cleveland MonstersL 4-3 (SO)
10/19/19@ Utica CometsL 7-1
10/23/19vs. Hershey BearsW 5-1
10/26/19@ Syracuse CrunchW 7-6 (OT)
10/27/19@ Springfield ThunderbirdsL 2-1 (OT)
10/30/19vs. Providence BruinsL 4-3
11/01/19vs. Binghamton DevilsW 4-2
11/02/19@ Utica CometsW 6-0
11/08/19vs. Binghamton DevilsL 4-3 (SO)
11/13/19vs. Syracuse CrunchW 4-3
11/15/19vs. Cleveland MonstersW 4-3 (OT)
11/16/19@ Utica CometsW 4-3
11/22/19vs. Hartford Wolf PackW 4-0
11/23/19@ Binghamton DevilsW 4-2
11/29/19vs. Toronto MarliesL 3-2 (OT)
11/30/19@ Cleveland MonstersW 3-2
12/04/19vs. Toronto MarliesW 4-0
12/06/19vs. Charlotte CheckersW 4-0
12/07/19vs. Charlotte CheckersL 3-1
12/11/19vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton PenguinsW 4-2
12/13/19@ Laval RocketW 3-2
12/14/19@ Laval RocketW 5-0
12/18/19@ Binghamton DevilsL 2-1
12/20/19vs. Binghamton DevilsW 3-0
12/21/19vs. Utica CometsW 4-3
12/27/19vs. Belleville SenatorsW 4-3
12/28/19@ Binghamton DevilsL 2-0
12/31/19@ Utica CometsL 3-2
01/03/20@ Belleville SenatorsW 4-3 (OT)
01/04/20@ Toronto MarliesL 5-2
01/08/20vs. Binghamton DevilsL 4-3 (SO)
01/10/20vs. Belleville SenatorsL 5-1
01/11/20@ Syracuse CrunchL 5-4
01/17/20vs. Cleveland MonstersL 4-3 (SO)
01/18/20@ Lehigh Valley PhantomsL 4-0
01/19/20@ Hershey BearsL 4-1
01/22/20@ Cleveland MonstersW 3-2 (OT)
01/24/20vs. Laval RocketW 5-2
01/25/20@ Syracuse CrunchW 3-2
01/31/20vs. Syracuse CrunchW 4-2
02/01/20@ Binghamton DevilsW 3-2
02/05/20@ Cleveland MonstersW 4-2
02/07/20vs. Syracuse CrunchL 5-2
02/08/20@ Toronto MarliesL 4-0
02/11/20@ Charlotte CheckersL 4-2
02/12/20@ Charlotte CheckersL 5-2
02/15/20@ Syracuse CrunchW 4-3 (SO)
02/16/20vs. Utica CometsW 3-2
02/19/20vs. Belleville SenatorsL 3-2 (OT)
02/21/20vs. Lehigh Valley PhantomsW 3-2 (OT)
02/22/20vs. Cleveland MonstersL 3-2 (OT)
02/26/20vs. Utica CometsL 3-2 (SO)
02/28/20vs. Laval RocketW 4-2
02/29/20@ Syracuse CrunchL 4-2
03/04/20vs. Utica CometsL 3-1
03/06/20@ Belleville SenatorsW 5-3
03/07/20@ Belleville SenatorsW 4-2
03/11/20vs. Binghamton DevilsL 5-2
03/13/20vs. Syracuse Crunch7:05 PM
03/15/20@ Cleveland Monsters3:00 PM
03/17/20@ Toronto Marlies1:30 PM
03/20/20vs. Springfield Thunderbirds7:05 PM
03/21/20vs. Springfield Thunderbirds7:05 PM
03/25/20vs. Toronto Marlies7:05 PM
03/28/20@ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins7:05 PM
03/29/20@ Bridgeport Sound Tigers3:00 PM
04/01/20vs. Utica Comets7:05 PM
04/03/20vs. Syracuse Crunch7:05 PM
04/04/20@ Syracuse Crunch7:00 PM
04/08/20@ Utica Comets7:00 PM
04/10/20vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers7:05 PM
04/11/20@ Binghamton Devils7:05 PM

Robert Janish, Jr.
Robert Janish, Jr.
One of the most memorable Sabres games I ever attended was the line brawl against the Senators, which Buffalo won in a shootout, 6-5. I can't wait for the day when playoff hockey returns to Buffalo. I graduated with a Masters in Sport Administration, and a Bachelor's in Political Science & Communication Studies from Canisius College.
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