THREE AMERKS ALUMNI STILL ALIVE IN THE QUEST FOR THE STANLEY CUPNews | 5/14/2012 4:22:55 PM | ROCHESTER AMERICANS
Three former faces that once called Rochester home are currently in the hunt for hockey’s top prize in the National Hockey League and the only thing that stands between them and Lord Stanley’s Cup – a mere eight more wins. Former Amerks players Martin Biron and Taylor Pyatt along with ex-coach John Tortorella are among the NHL’s four teams remaining in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Biron, a heavy fan-favorite in Rochester, spent four seasons (1997-01) between the pipes for the Amerks, recording a 59-32-9 record with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 103 career games. Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round (16th overall) of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, Biron posted his best season in Rochester in 1998-99, tabbing a career-best 2.07 goals-against average along with a .930 save percentage en route to earning the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award and the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award as the goaltender best at his position and the goaltender who owned the best goals-against average.
The 2011-12 season marked his second with the New York Rangers, where he posted a 12-6-2 record with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage in 21 games. He and the Rangers are slated to meet the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals in a rematch of the 1994 conference championship that saw New York rally from a 3-2 series deficit to dispatch New Jersey in decisive Game 7 before outlasting the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the franchise’s fourth and most recent Stanley Cup. Biron has manned the pipes for 500 career NHL games with Buffalo, Philadelphia, the New York Islanders and New York Rangers, earning a 228-212-27 record with 26 career shutouts.
Phoenix’s Pyatt was with the Amerks for half a season in 2001-02 after being acquired by Buffalo from the New York Islanders prior to the start of that season. In just a brief 27-game stint in Rochester, Pyatt managed to rack up 10 points (4+6) before his permanent return to the NHL.
The 12-year pro recently completed his third season with the Coyotes, tallying 19 points (9+10) and 23 penalty minutes in 73 games to help the ‘Yotes to the Pacific Division title, their first in franchise history. Pyatt has also collected four points (3+1) through 12 postseason games for Phoenix, who won its first playoff series since 1987 (then Winnipeg Jets) after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks four games to two in the opening round. Fresh off their 4-1 series win over Nashville in the second round, Pyatt and the Coyotes recently made their first-ever Conference Finals appearance in round three against the Los Angeles Kings, who currently hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference championship series. In 755 career NHL games with the New York Islanders, Buffalo, Vancouver and Phoenix, the Thunder Bay, Ontario, native has registered has 264 points on 130 goals and 134 assists.
Totorella, who completed his third full season at the helm of the New York Rangers, is in the Rochester record books as the only Amerks head coach to lead his team to the Calder Cup championship in just his first season behind the bench. After serving as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres for six seasons (1989-95), Tortorella arrived in Rochester in the fall of 1995 and would guide the team to its sixth Calder Cup championship in 1996, the team’s last, in the 56-history of the franchise.
Tortorella would serve as the bench boss the following season in Rochester before returning to the NHL as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes for two seasons (1997-99) and his first stint with the Rangers in the 1999-00 season. From there, Tortorella moved on to fulfill the head coaching role with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he would remain for the next six seasons (2001-08) and captured his first Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004. In two seasons behind the bench with the Amerks, Tortorella was 77-69-14 while going 29-21-8 in the playoffs.