VIEW NEAR THE TOP
The Amerks closed out the regular season with a 4-2 win in Belleville, capping the year with a second-place finish in the North Division and third overall in the American Hockey League with a 46-23-5-2 record and 99 points. Only the Charlotte Checkers and Syracuse Crunch finished with more wins and points than the Amerks, who earned points in eight of their final 11 games while outscoring the opposition 254-218 for the year.
At 25-9-3-1, the Amerks concluded the season with the best road record in the AHL, finishing one point ahead of the league-leading Charlotte Checkers thanks to a .711 points percentage. Rochester’s 25 road wins this season tied a franchise record originally set during the 1998-99 season and were the most in the AHL this season. The team also finished with the fewest regulation road losses with nine, having collected at least one point in 29 of their 38 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks won 11 of their last 14 on the road, including five straight from March 23 to April 8.
REDMOND NAMED AHL’S TOP DEFENSEMAN
The American Hockey League named Amerks defenseman Zach Redmond the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2018-19 season. The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 31 cities. Redmond finished the 2018-19 regular season with career-best totals of 21 goals (tops among all AHL defensemen) and 50 points, along with a plus-13 rating in just 58 games for the Americans, who finished with the fourth-best record in the AHL. He tied for the overall league lead with nine game-winning tallies and ranked first among blueliners with 10 power-play goals (tied) and 200 shots on goal. Redmond, who broke a 46-year-old franchise record for goals by a defenseman in a single season, was also voted a First Team AHL All-Star this season following a Second Team selection in 2017-18. He joins AHL Hall of Famer Steve Kraftcheck (1959) and Hockey Hall of Famer Al Arbour (1965) as the only Amerks ever to receive the Eddie Shore Award. An eighth-year pro from Traverse City, Mich., Redmond has totaled 65 goals and 132 assists for 197 points in 314 career AHL games, as well as nine goals and 29 assists in 133 NHL contests with Buffalo, Montreal, Colorado and Winnipeg. Redmond, who has successfully resumed his career following a potentially life-threatening laceration to his femoral artery in 2013, was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008 and was acquired by Buffalo in a trade with Montreal on Oct. 4, 2017.
THOMPSON MAKES IMMEDIATE IMPACT
After appearing in 65 games with the Buffalo Sabres, second-year forward Tage Thompson was assigned to Rochester at the end of March and his addition to the Amerks lineup was certainly a welcomed one. In eight games with the Amerks, Thompson erupted for nine points on six goals and three assists, including a career-high three-point outing in his Amerks debut in a 4-2 win over Laval on March 29. Thompson, the son of Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson, then found the back of the net again the very next night in Binghamton, helping Rochester clinch its second straight playoff spot with a 6-4 win at Binghamton. Most recently, the former first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues scored both goals in a 2-1 win at Cleveland on April 8 to secure the Amerks home ice for the first-round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs before closing out the regular season with another two-point effort (1+1) in the season finale at Belleville on April 14.
Much like last season, the 2018-19 season saw the Amerks turn some of the most improbable of comebacks into the most incredible of victories. Trailing 4-1 less than a minute into the third period against Toronto on March 24, the Amerks scored three straight goals over the final 13:53 of regulation to overcome the three-goal deficit, including one with 22 seconds remaining to force overtime, before Danny O’Regan delivered the game-winner just 17 seconds into the extra session to cap a thrilling comeback win over the Marlies. It was the third come-from-behind win this season for the Amerks, who also rallied from being down 3-0 for a 4-3 overtime win in Utica on Feb. 22 and used a three-goal third period in Hartford on Nov. 18 to earn a 4-3 road win over the Wolf Pack. The most recent comeback effort came on March 30 as the Amerks stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in Binghamton for a 6-4 victory over the Devils that secured the team a playoff berth for the second straight year.
SHARING THE WEALTH
After failing to produce a 20-goal scorer last season for just the second time in franchise history, the Amerks had six different players to have reached the mark by the season’s end, something Rochester hasn’t done since the 1996-97 campaign when the team had seven. Zach Redmond continued his record-setting season by becoming the first defenseman in team history to reach the 20-goal mark back on Feb. 20 against Cleveland while Victor Olofsson followed suit just two nights later against Utica, eclipsing the mark with his second-straight 27-goal season. Since then, forwards C.J. Smith, Taylor Leier, Danny O’Regan and Wayne Simpson have all joined the club, with Simpson scoring twice in a 5-2 win at Syracuse on April 6 to surpass the mark for the first time in his AHL career. Rochester finished the regular season as the only AHL team with six different 20-goal scorers. With Redmond becoming the first to reach the mark, the Amerks have now had at least one player in 61 of the previous 63 years since the team’s inception in 1956 to score 20 or more goals, a streak that was sparked by Bronco Horvath’s team-leading 37 tallies during Rochester’ inaugural 1956-57 season. The 2014-15 and 2017-18 campaign remains the only two seasons in the 63-year history of the franchise that failed to produce a 20-goal scorer.
OLOFSSON LEADS THE WAY
Victor Olofsson took his first season in North America by storm, leading the AHL in scoring through October before finishing the season as Rochester’s leader in goals (30), assists (33) and points (63) through 66 games with the Amerks. A seventh-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2014, Olofsson scored twice in a 4-3 loss at Syracuse on April 13, becoming the first Amerks skater to score 30 goals in a season since Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both reached the mark during the 2004-05 campaign. Olofsson, who earned CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for October, finished tied for eighth in the AHL in goals and 14th among the league’s top point-getters in overall scoring. Additionally, he ranked among the league leaders with 15 power-play assists while his nine game-winning goals, three of which have come in his last 14 games, tied for most in the AHL. Olofsson was rewarded with a late-season recall to the Buffalo Sabres, where he added four points on two goals and two assists in six games with the big club.
REDMOND NAMED TO 2018-19 AHL FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM
With 20 points (5+15) over his final 21 games, which included six multi-point efforts during that span, Zach Redmond concluded his illustrious season scoring a career-high 21 goals through 58 games, including 10 on the power-play, good enough for 13th in the league in that category. Nearly three months after setting the franchise record for goals by a defenseman and becoming the first blueliner in team history to score 20 in a season, Redmond reached the 50-point mark for the first time in his pro career with an assist at Syracuse on April 6. He closed out the campaign leading all AHL defensemen with a franchise-record 21 goals and 200 shots and ranked third with 50 points. His nine game-winning tallies were also the most by a blueliner this season, earning him a selection to the 2018-19 AHL First All-Star Team. The 30-year-old Redmond earns AHL year-end honors for the second straight season after being named to the AHL Second All-Star Team in 2017-18, becoming the first Amerks defenseman to be selected in back-to-back years since Terry Hollinger in 1995-96 and 1996-97.
CAREER-YEAR FOR C.J.
C.J. Smith assembled a career-year for himself in 2018-19, setting career-highs in goals (28), assists (30) and points (58) through 62 games to finish second on the team in scoring as one of only three skates to surpass the 50-point mark. With an assist at Cleveland on April 8, Smith closed out the season having amassed 41 points (22+19) over his last 41 games dating back to Dec. 5, having been held scoreless just 12 times over that span. He also posted a season-long nine-game point streak in that time. He also finished with a plus-26 on-ice rating, good enough for 10th in the league, while playing at nearly a point-per-game pace for the better part of the last three months for Rochester.
With 30 and 28 goals on the season, respectively, forwards Victor Olofsson and C.J. Smith nearly became the first set of Amerks to score 30 in the same season since Thomas Vanek (42) and Jason Pominville (30) both reached the mark during the 2004-05 campaign when Rochester finished the year with an AHL-best 51-19-6-4 record, winning the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as regular-season champions. The Amerks would set several single-season franchise records for the most points (112) and the longest home winning streak which saw Rochester win 17 consecutive home games between Dec. 17 and Mar. 4 while Vanek would go on to tie the single-season franchise marks for most goals by a rookie (42) and most power-play goals (25).
OLOFSSON MAKES HISTORY WITH SABRES
After notching his team-leading 16th multi-point game and the first four-assist effort of his career on March 24 in Toronto, Victor Olofsson earned his first recall to the Buffalo Sabres a few days later before making his highly anticipated NHL debut against Detroit on March 28. Olofsson recorded an assist on Jack Eichel’s 100th career NHL goal and posted a team-high five shots over 16:25 of ice time while becoming the 500th different Sabre to a play a game for Buffalo in either the regular season or playoffs. Two nights later on Long Island, Olofsson scored his first NHL goal, the lone tally in Buffalo’s 5-1 loss at the New York Islanders, becoming the first Sabre to record two points through his first two NHL games since Casey Mittelstadt last season.
A WEDGE-WALL BETWEEN THE PIPES
Scott Wedgewood, who won 10 of his last 17 games, posted a career-best 28-14-2 record in 48 appearances this season. In addition to his 28 wins, which put him six off the league lead to end the regular season, the sixth-netminder recorded the third-most shutouts in the AHL with five, two of which came over a three-game span. Wedgewood, who previously won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, also finished sixth in saves (1,195) while his 2.68 goals-against average and .908 save percentage both tied for 19th in the AHL, respectively. He became the first Amerks netminder to post five shutouts in a season since Ryan Miller had eight in 2004-05 and concluded the season just two wins shy of reaching the 30-win mark, a feat last accomplished by former two-time MVP David Leggio, who posted 38 victories during the 2012-13 campaign.
HOW SWEDE IT IS
Buffalo’s 20-man roster against Detroit on March 28 featured a total of six different Swedish-born players, five of which spent time in Rochester at one point. They included forwards Johan Larsson, Alexander Nylander, Victor Olofsson, defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Lawrence Pilut and goaltender Linus Ullmark.
TAYLOR JOINS ELITE COMPANY
By way of a 5-2 victory over the Marlies on March 23, which snapped a three-game losing skid, Rochester became the third different AHL team this season to reach the 40-win mark. Amerks head coach Chris Taylor also became the first bench boss to lead his team to the 40-win mark since Benoit Groulx (44) in the 2009-10 season. Earlier this season, Taylor reached the 30-win mark for the second straight year, becoming the first Amerks head coach to lead his team to 30 or more wins in each of his first two seasons behind the bench since Hall of Famer Randy Cunneyworth, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history.
ROAD TO BUFFALO LEADS THROUGH ROCHESTER
Among the 36 different players that have suited up for the Buffalo Sabres this season, 13 have also spent time in Rochester. Excluding goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who earned a pair of recalls but never saw game action with the Sabres, Buffalo has required the services of defensemen Will Borgen, Brendan Guhle, Matt Hunwick, Casey Nelson, Lawrence Pilut, Matt Tennyson, as well as forwards Remi Elie, Alexander Nylander, Danny O’Regan, Victor Olofsson, C.J. Smith, Tage Thompson and Scott Wilson. Thompson, who joined Rochester at the end of March, played in 65 games with Buffalo while the remaining 12 have combined for 221-man games with the big club, including 33 from Pilut. Borgen and Olofsson were among the only two to make their NHL debuts; Borgen in Ottawa on March 26 and Olofsson against Detroit on March 28. Olofsson is the first Sabre since Casey Mittelstadt to record two points (1+1) through his first two NHL games with his first NHL goal holding up as the lone tally in Buffalo’s 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders on March 30. The goal came against former Amerk and Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner late in the third period on the power-play. Nylander, meanwhile, has recorded four points (2+2) in 12 games for the Sabres, all of which came over a three-game span from March 17 to March 23.
IRON MAN STREAK COMES TO AN END
Wayne Simpson saw his Iron Man streak of 231 consecutive AHL games end after missing the game in Hartford on Feb. 2. The streak, which dated back to Jan. 29, 2016, was the longest in the AHL over that span. Prior to joining the Amerks, the Boxborough, Mass., native appeared in all 76 regular-season games with the Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins over each of the last two seasons, in addition to 35 straight appearances for the Portland Pirates.
HEY NOW, YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR
Defensemen Zach Redmond and Lawrence Pilut were named to the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic in January but were unavailable to participate due to injury and NHL recall, respectively. The selection was the first for Pilut, the former SHL Defenseman of the Year, and the first for Redmond since 2012 when he was a member of the St. John’s IceCaps. Brendan Guhle, who was traded to Anaheim at the NHL trade deadline, would go onto represent the Amerks at the annual midseason showcase, helping the North Division repeat as champions of the 2019 AHL All-Star Challenge in Springfield. The night before, Guhle finished with the sixth-fastest time in league history in the CCM Fastest Skate competition with a lap time of 13.648 and posted a shot of 99.4 MPH in the Hardest Shot event.
RECORD BELONGS TO REDMOND
Veteran defenseman Zach Redmond broke the 46-year-old single-season franchise record back on Jan. 23, scoring his team-leading 19th goal of the season in a 7-5 win over the Binghamton Devils at The Blue Cross Arena. Redmond surpassed Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti, who set the original mark with 18 goals during the 1972-73 campaign. He also become the first defenseman in the 63-history of the franchise to reach the 20-goal mark, scoring just 2:45 into the first period in his first game back from an 11-game injury absence. Earlier this season, he became the fastest Amerks defenseman to score 10 goals in the fewest amount of games to begin the season since Amerks Hall of Famer Don McSween reached the mark in his first 21 games during the 1989-90 campaign. Redmond bested the mark, needing only 14 games. McSween would later go on to become the top scoring defenseman in franchise history. Redmond, who last season became just the first Amerk blueliner in seven years to lead the team in scoring, finished nine goals shy of tying John Slaney’s AHL record for goals by a defenseman of 30, set during the 1999-00 season as a member of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
AMERKS GET TWO-TIME STANLEY CUP-WINNER FROM BUFFALO
Just days after being reassigned from the parent Buffalo Sabres, veteran forward Scott Wilson made his season debut against Toronto on Jan. 11. The game was Wilson’s first of the season after sustaining an injury during the preseason just four days prior to Buffalo’s regular-season opener. With the addition of Wilson, who was recalled by the Sabres on Feb. 22 and spent the remainder of the season in Buffalo, Rochester’s lineup featured two Stanley Cup-winners in he and Amerks captain Kevin Porter.
SMITH’S BIG WEEK
Just days after becoming the first Iowan to score an NHL goal in Buffalo’s 5-1 win over New Jersey on Jan. 8, C.J. Smith followed up with his most dominant performance of the season for Rochester. Smith tied a career-high with a four-point night (3+1) – including his second-career hat trick – and had a team-high seven shots in Rochester’s 5-1 win at Toronto on Jan. 12. Smith also netted the game-winner while single-handedly outscoring the defending Calder Cup champion Marlies in his return to the Amerks lineup.
C.J. Smith and Lawrence Pilut each scored their first NHL goals in Buffalo’s 5-1 rout of the New Jersey Devils back on Jan. 8. The game was the sixth time in franchise history in which two Sabres recorded their first NHL goals in the same contest. The last such game was April 6, 2018, when Casey Mittelstadt and Alexander Nylander each scored their first career goals at Tampa Bay. It was also the fourth time in which two different players scored their first NHL goals in the same period. Smith also became the first player from the state of Iowa to score an NHL goal.
PILUT TAKES FLIGHT
Much like Victor Olofsson, fellow Swede Lawrence Pilut made an immediate impact in his North American debut after being named the SHL’s top defenseman in 2017-18. Pilut was nearly a point-per-game player for Rochester, recording 26 points (4+22) in 30 games from the blueline as well as a plus-22 on-ice rating that placed him ninth in the AHL amongst all defensemen. The Tingsryd, Sweden, native began the season with four multi-point efforts through his first seven games, including three separate three-point efforts over that span, before totaling nine points (1+8) over a season-long seven-game point streak to open the month of November. Pilut was never held scoreless for more than three games throughout the season despite recording just one assist over his final seven appearances. Pilut’s offensive output in Rochester has earned him three different recalls to the Sabres, where he contributed six points (1+5) through 33 games.
OLOFSSON OWNS OCTOBER
Victor Olofsson certainly didn’t waste any time in getting acclimated to the American Hockey League. Just months after leading the Swedish Hockey League with 27 goals, Olofsson made the most of his North American debut, leading the AHL in scoring through the first month of the season with 15 points (5+10) in 10 games to earn CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors. A seventh-round selection of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2014 NHL Draft, Olofsson put together four straight multi-point efforts over a one-week span, including a season-high four-point outing (2+2) at Utica on Oct. 17, and was held scoreless just twice during the month. Olofsson, who was also named the AHL’s Player of the Week for period ending Oct. 14 after scoring the game-winning goal in back-to-back games against Bridgeport, closed out the month on a seven-game point streak, accounting for 14 points (9+5) over that span.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
Rochester’s success this season can be certainly be attributed to the increase in offensive contributions from its blueliners. In addition to Zach Redmond, who reached the 50-point mark for the first time in his pro career with an assist at Syracuse on April 6, the Amerks have also relied heavily on the production from Lawrence Pilut, who last season led all SHL Defensemen in scoring, while Matt Tennyson has reached the 20-point mark for the third time in seven years. With four goals, 17 assists and 21 points, Tennyson had his best season since producing 27 points on five goals and 22 assists as a rookie during the 2012-13 campaign.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Amerks finished the regular season boasting a 35-15-3-1 (74 points) record against North Division rivals and went 11-8-2-1 (25 points) versus non-divisional foes. Rochester outscored the opposition 124-110 on home ice and 130-108 on the road, in addition to dominating the third period all season long with a 92-74 goal differential. The Amerks scored the first goal in 44 of the 76 regular-season games, showing a 33-6-4-1 record when doing so, including an 18-2-2-1 mark at home. Rochester was also 30-1-3-1 when leading after two periods, a streak that also came with a near-perfect 16-1-0-1 mark at home. Most impressively, though, Rochester led the league with eight wins when trailing after two periods.
SPECIAL TEAMS BREAKDOWN
After going 6-for-18 on the man-advantage over their final five games, the Amerks finished with the league’s eighth-best power-play unit, converting on 61 of 299 chances for an 20.4% success rate. Rochester also owned the second-best power-play on the road with 39 goals on 156 man-advantage situations. On the penalty kill, Rochester successfully killed off 254 of 311 (81.7%) shorthanded situations, including 122 of 146 on the road for an 83.6% efficiency rate. As a team, Rochester allowed a league-low three shorthanded goals against, with all of them coming on home ice. The Amerks also scored 11 shorthanded goals this season, including two each from C.J. Smith and Wayne Simpson.
CYCLONES CAPTURE REGULAR SEASON TITLE
The Cincinnati Cyclones captured the 2018-19 Brabham Cup as ECHL regular-season champions, following a 3-2 win over the Toledo Walleye on April 3. The team finished with a 51-13-5-3 record (110 points) this season, marking its best finish since the 2007-08 campaign when Cincinnati went 55-11-1-4 with a franchise-best 115 points under former Amerks head coach Chuck Weber. It also marks the second Brabham Cup in franchise history for the Cyclones, who also took the prize that year, before ultimately going on to win their first of two Kelly Cup championships in a three-year span. The Cyclones also tied an ECHL record with 30 home wins this season while boasting the league's top offense, averaging 3.92 goals per game, and the top defense, having allowed a miniscule 2.44 goals per 60 minutes and outscoring the opposition 282-176. Starting and finishing games were a specialty for Cincinnati, as they finished with an ECHL-best 99 first-period goals and have allowed 48 goals in the third period. Cincinnati also outscored the opposition, 92-48, in the final 20 minutes of play, and were 37-1-1-2 when leading after two periods. They gave up more than three goals in regulation just 10 times all season. The regular-season title solidifies Cincinnati as the top seed in the ECHL overall and guarantees the Cyclones home ice advantage throughout the entirety of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Cyclones clinched the ECHL's Central Division title back on March 20, marking their first division title since the 2012-13 season. This will be the 10th trip to the postseason for the Cyclones since returning to action for the 2006-07 season, and the third berth in the last four seasons. The Cyclones have won three division championships in that time (2007-08, 2008-09, 2012-13), and have a pair of Kelly Cup championships in 2008 and 2010. Cincinnati also made a third trip to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2014, falling in six games to the Alaska Aces.
POWELL NAMED TO ECHL ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
Cincinnati Cyclones forward Myles Powell was named to the 2018-19 ECHL All-Rookie Team. This is the second-consecutive year that a Cyclone has been represented on the All-Rookie Team, joining last year's ECHL Rookie of the Year, Justin Danforth, who was also named to the team. A native of Courtenay, B.C., Powell led all ECHL rookies in scoring with 66 total points (31+35) through 57 games. Additionally, he tied for second amongst all ECHL first-year skaters and finished tied for sixth overall in goals, while placing 10th overall in scoring among the league’s top point-getters. He also led all rookies and finished second in the ECHL with a plus-45 on-ice rating. Powell closed out the regular season on a six-game point streak, accounting for six goals and two assists in that time and had points in 14 of his last 18 games overall, amassing 11 goals and 13 assists. He enjoyed a pair of season-high seven-game point streaks from Nov. 7-21 (8+3), and again from Feb. 1-20 (6+7). His first seven-game point streak also included a career-high six-game goal-scoring streak (8g). Overall, Powell posted point streaks of five or more games on six occasions this season and failed to find the score sheet in just 15 of his 57 games played. Powell has also appeared in seven games for the Rochester Americans, American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Cyclones.
CINCINNATI’S KNODEL, HOUSER EARN ALL-ECHL FIRST-TEAM HONORS
Cyclones defenseman Eric Knodel and goaltender Michael Houser, both under American Hockey League contracts with the Amerks, were named to the 2018-19 All-ECHL First Team. Knodel takes home All-ECHL honors for a second-straight campaign after being named to the All-ECHL second team last season. He paced all defensemen with 53 points (17+36), finished second amongst league rearguards with 24 power-play points (7+17) and third with a plus-38 on-ice rating. He was named the AMI Graphics/ECHL Plus Performer of the Month for February after posting an on-ice rating of plus-16 through 13 games during the month. Houser led all ECHL netminders with a record of 29-7-4-1, along with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. His 29 wins were tied for the most amongst ECHL netminders, while his 2.13 GAA and .922 SV% were third and fourth-best in the ECHL, respectively. He allowed more than three goals on just seven occasions and made 25 or more saves in all but 12 outings. Houser was also named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for December after a perfect 6-0-0-0 record along with a 1.17 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage.
HOUSER NAMED WARRIOR HOCKEY ECHL GOALTENDER OF THE YEAR
Goaltender Michael Houser, who is also under an AHL contract with Rochester, was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Year. He is the first Cyclone to earn this award. Houser, who was also named to the All-ECHL First Team, led all ECHL netminders with a record of 29-7-4-1, and was second with a 2.13 goals-against average. He also placed fourth in the ECHL with a .922 save percentage, and his 29 wins tied him for the league-lead amongst ECHL netminders. He allowed more than three goals on just seven occasions and made 25 or more saves in all but 12 outings this season. Houser was also named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for December after a perfect 6-0-0-0 record along with a 1.17 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. Houser is in his fourth stint with the Cyclones, having spent 41 games with the Cyclones during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, and another 41 during the 2016-17 campaign. He has also appeared in 17 playoff games for Cincinnati as well, turning out a 9-5-3 record with a 2.24 GAA and .915 SV%. He split last season between the Ft. Wayne Komets and Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League (AHL) and has also seen AHL time with the Ontario Reign, San Antonio Rampage, and Cleveland Monsters.