By Erica Whyte
The Rochester Americans collected four out of a possible six points this past week, which saw the Amerks on the losing end of an overtime and shootout loss before a dominating 5-2 win over the defending AHL’s regular season champs to extend their point streak to six straight games. Rochester enters the week with points in 13 of its last 14 games and remains in sole possession of second place in the AHL’s North Division standings.
Weekend in Review
ROCHESTER (1) AT UTICA (2) – OTL
For the third consecutive game between the Amerks and Utica Comets at the Adirondack Bank Center, the North Division showdown went beyond regulation as Rochester closed out the second month of the 2017-18 season with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Comets.
Despite falling in the extra session, the Amerks concluded November owning a record of 7-1-3-1 in 12 games and collected 18 of a possible 24 points during the month. Garret Ross, who returned to the lineup after missing the last three games, scored the lone Amerks goal 4:18 into the middle period while goaltender Linus Ullmark stopped 31 of 33 but suffered the loss.
HARTFORD (5) AT ROCHESTER (4) – SOL
For the fourth time in the last five games, the Amerks needed to go beyond regulation time to decide the outcome. On Friday night, the Hartford Wolf Pack erased 3-1 Amerks lead to pick up a 5-4 shootout win and snap a four-game losing skid at The Blue Cross Arena.
Despite falling in the shootout, the Amerks have notched points in 12 of their last 13 games and have collected 23 out of a possible 32 points dating back to Oct. 25.
Seth Griffith, Steve Moses, Garret Ross and Evan Rodrigues all lit the lamp for the Amerks, who have not suffered a loss in regulation on home ice since Oct. 28, going 4-0-0-1 since. Netminder Adam Wilcox, who made his second start in the last three games, made 24 saves but took the loss.
ROCHESTER (5) AT WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (2) – W
The Amerks kicked-off a four-game, eight-day road swing in a big way as they scored four-unanswered goals during the second period on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Saturday night.
With the victory, the Amerks have notched points in 13 of their last 14 games and 25 points out of a possible 34 dating back to Oct. 25. Rochester also improved to 6-1-3-1 in 11 games away from The Blue Cross Arena this season.
Evan Rodrigues (2+1), who has 10 points (5+5) in the last six games, and C.J Smith (1+2), who has a team-best 22 points (7+16) in 21 games on the campaign, each bagged three-point nights to lead the Amerks to a victory. Garret Ross scored his third goal in as many contests and Eric Cornel capped off the scoring while goaltender Linus Ullmark earned his 10th victory of the season, stopping 22 of 24 shots he faced. Over his last nine starts, the Swedish netminder has a 7-0-2 record.
News and Notes
Rochester’s 5-2 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday was the start of a four-game, eight-day road swing through the Atlantic Division, which also includes stops in Springfield, Hartford and Bridgeport this weekend when the Amerks play their first three-in-three of the season. Coming off Saturday’s win over the Penguins, the Amerks have earned at least one point in 10 of their first 11 road games this season with only one regulation loss, a 5-0 setback at Binghamton on Nov. 17.
Amerks rookies continue to make their mark, as two of the team’s top point-producers are in their first pro year. With four more points (1+3) through the weekend, including a three-point effort in Saturday’s win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, forward C.J. Smith now leads the Amerks in all offensive categories with seven goals, 16 assists and 23 points while being one of just three skaters to appear in all 22 games this season. Smith is the only active AHL rookie to lead his team in scoring and is tied for sixth overall among the league’s top point-getters.
With another assist on Saturday, Brendan Guhle pushed his point streak to a season-long four straight games. He remains Rochester’s top-scoring blueliner and comes into the week tied for third in scoring among all AHL rookie defensemen with 14 points (5+9), all of which have come in his last 17 games. His three power-play goals are also tops amongst all first-year blueliners while his 51 shots are second-most.
The Amerks roster has seen significant movement in the last week. The Buffalo Sabres assigned forward Seth Griffith and defenseman Matt Tennyson to Rochester. Griffith is an AHL All-Star who was drafted in the fifth round by the Boston Bruins in 2011, and boasts 204 points in 206 career AHL games, including two (1+1) in his first three games since joining the Amerks. Tennyson played 14 games for the Sabres this season and was held scoreless during his time in Buffalo.
"They both stepped in really well. I really like how they brought some pace to our team,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor of the team’s newest additions. “They were dominant in both games, I thought. Tennyson really bought stability back there on defense for us. He did a great job as well. Great additions by both.”
Hudson Fasching and Evan Rodrigues have both received their first call-ups of the season. In his second pro year, Fasching has totaled nine points and is tied for the second on the team with six goals. Rodrigues, the Sabres’ 2016-17 Rookie of the Year, has totaled 10 points (5+5) in eight AHL games this season and leads all Rochester skaters with 1.25 points per game.
In a corresponding move, the Sabres reassigned Kyle Criscuolo to Rochester. In his first NHL call up, the second-year forward played eight games with the big club.
Linus Ullmark is 7-0-2 in his last nine starts. The former Swedish Goaltender of the Year and reigning team MVP hasn’t lost in regulation since Oct. 28 and has won nine of his last 12 dating back to Oct. 25, including a career-best five straight to open the month of November. He currently leads the AHL in saves (466) and is tied for fourth in wins (10) while his .919 save percentage is 14th-best among all netminders.
The Amerks begin a weekend trek through the Atlantic Division and opens their first three-in-three of the campaign on Friday, Dec. 8 against the Springfield Thunderbirds at 7:05 p.m. Following the tilt with the Thunderbirds, the Amerks visit the Hartford Wolf Pack for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff before taking on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. All of the action will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
1. C.J. Smith: 7G - 16A - 23 PTS
2. Sahir Gill: 6G - 10A - 16 PTS
3. Steve Moses: 6G - 8A - 14 PTS
4. Kevin Porter: 5G - 9A - 14 PTS
5. Brendan Guhle: 5G - 9A - 14 PTS
Linus Ullmark: 10-3-0; 1 SO; 2.80 GAA; .919 SV%
Adam Wilcox: 2-2-2; 3.44 GAA; .878 SV%