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2017 TRAINING CAMP - DAY ONE NOTEBOOK

By Ryan J. Harr

Following the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, there were several changes to the Buffalo Sabres organization. Many of those modifications affected the Rochester Americans. Former Amerk Jason Botterill took the reins in Buffalo as general manager, Randy Sexton was tabbed to oversee hockey operations in Rochester as Amerks general manager and the team appointed Chris Taylor, one of the all-time greats in franchise history, to be the next head coach.

Earlier today it all came together as the Amerks took the ice for Day One of Training Camp at The Blue Cross Arena, thus ushering in a new era of hockey in Rochester.

Over the weekend, the parent Buffalo Sabres assigned 14 players to the Amerks, and while  many of its top line forwards and defensive corps remain with the NHL club, Rochester’s opening day roster featured a good mix of 16 forwards, 10 defensemen and four goaltenders, all but one of which are under contract for this season. The morning session proved to be a productive one for the group with the youngsters and seasoned veterans alike turning in a high-intensity 80-minute workout that new Taylor  and his staff used to further familiarize players with the organization’s systems while taking a closer look at the first-year prospects projected to make their professional debuts in Rochester this season.

Changes Behind the Bench:

Taylor was named the 32nd head coach June 30th, becoming just the 12th former Amerk to be appointed to the position in the 62-year history of the franchise.

Earlier today, the 45-year-old, along with new assistant Gord Dineen and Toby Petersen, led his squad on the ice, introducing the players to special teams tactics as well as putting them through a series of rigorous skating drills specifically designed to determine adequate levels of speed and fitness. Overall, Taylor was pleased with the effort put in and hopes the team will build on it as the week progresses.

“Overall it was a pretty good day,” said Taylor. We had some meetings this morning about being excited everyone being excited and you could tell everyone was definitely excited to get everything going.”

Monday’s practice was practice was also the first official day for Taylor in his new role. Taylor spent all of last season as an assistant coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, leading the team to an AHL-best regular season record while also helping Pittsburgh capture its second straight Stanley Cup.

The message was clear from the start: work ethic wasn’t to go unnoticed. With the regular season just two weeks away, roster spots are up for the taking and it’s simply a matter of who’s going to take advantage of the opportunities during the week-long camp leading into this weekend’s two-game set against the Toronto Marlies.

While Taylor admitted it’s still too early to tell where the strengths of the team lie, he predicts based on the number of returning players as well as the influx of new talent the focal point this season will be on increased offensive production. In the meantime, however, Taylor’s main focus over these next few weeks will be about unification and establishing a team identity.

“I told the guys before practice that everything starts today. It’s important for all of us to be in the right mindset. We’re going to be building the team over these next few days and we have a lot of guys looking for jobs.”

Feelin’ the Vibe:

Amerks forward Hudson Fasching, who appeared in 37 games with Rochester last season, says he noticed a different energy among the team.

“There is a lot of new guys on the team but I believe there is different energy among the team compared to last season. There are a lot of different changes, but with the new alterations to everything, I am putting last year in the past because it was an up and down season for me personally, so I am excited to get the season started.”

Winning Atmosphere:

Earlier this summer, Sexton made a commitment to not only create a winning culture in Rochester, but restore the Amerks back to prominence among the elite in the American Hockey League.

A big part of that was the signing of veteran defenseman Nathan Paetsch, who is among the 18 “new” faces to this year’s squad, and the return of former Amerks captain Kevin Porter.

The veteran defenseman most recently served as captain for the Grand Rapid Griffins, a team he helped to five straight playoff appearances from 2012 to 2017 and two AHL titles. Porter, meanwhile, spent the previous two years in the Pittsburgh organization and won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Penguins.

“Over the course of my career, I have learned a lot of things and been in some really unique situations,” said Paetsch. “In 15 professional years, I have put on a lot of miles on as a player. I have learned a lot and have grown as a player but I believe that is part of my job now to teach these young guys and move them along to the National Hockey League. That is something I am looking forward to really embracing this year.”

Bye Summer 2017, Hello Training Camp:

As the month of October is nearing, the off-season is now a thing of the past, but there were also a lot of memories created over the summer.

“The summer was good as I was working to prepare for the upcoming season, but I also got engaged, so that was exciting,” said Fasching. “In addition to spending the off-season in Minnesota, I spent the summer working on getting my body healthy and I did some exercises in order to make sure my I was properly aligned, which included a few variations of yoga. When I was not working out though, I did some traveling too.”

Training Camp Notes

Among the 30 players on Rochester’s opening day roster, 12 played at least one game with the Amerks last season … A year after leading the KHL in scoring, forward Stevie Moses is coming off another impressive season, winning the Gragarin Cup with SKA St. Petersburgh in 2016-17 … Colin Blackwell, who spent last season with the San Jose Barracuda and participated in Buffalo’s Prospects Challenge earlier this month, headlines a list of four invitees in this year’s camp.

Preseason begins this week

The Amerks open their 2017 preseason schedule on Friday, Sept. 29 with the first of back-to-back meetings against the Toronto Marlies at the Gene Polisseni Center on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m.

All tickets for the game will be General Admission and will be available for purchase for just $5 at the Polisseni Center Box Office, online at www.amerks.com and www.rithockey.com, or at the Amerks Main Office located at The Blue Cross Arena. RIT students can purchase tickets for $3 while all Amerks and RIT Season Ticket Members will receive complimentary tickets to the game.

Training camp will officially come to a close on Saturday, Sept. 30 as the same two teams meet again for a 7:05 p.m. rematch at HarborCenter in Buffalo. Tickets for the second game of the weekend are available for $10 each for General Admission seating with $5 tickets available for all Amerks and Buffalo Sabres Season Ticket Members. Tickets can be purchased at www.tickets.com, through www.amerks.com, at the KeyBank Center Box Office or the Amerks Office.

Practice schedule for remainder of the week

Tuesday, Sept. 26
Group A Practice Session at 10:00 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)
Group B Practice Session at 11:15 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)

Wednesday, Sept. 27
Group A Practice Session at 10:00 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)
Group B Practice Session at 11:15 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)

Thursday, Sept. 28
Group A Practice Session at 10:00 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)
Group B Practice Session at 11:15 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)

Friday, Sept. 29
Morning Skate at 10:00 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)
Home Preseason Game vs. Toronto Marlies at 7:05 p.m. (Gene Polisseni Center at RIT)

Saturday, Sept. 30
Morning Skate at 10:00 a.m. (Blue Cross Arena)
Home Preseason Game vs. Toronto Marlies at 7:05 p.m. (HarborCenter)

Home Opener set for Friday, Oct. 6

Rochester begins its 62nd season in the American Hockey League on Friday, Oct. 6 against the Syracuse Crunch at The Blue Cross Arena. Amerks Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 campaign, which start as low as just $12 per game, are on-sale now. The Amerks are also offering a variety of partial plans, including Half-Season Memberships and Flex Season Memberships with vouchers good for best available seating to any home game. All memberships are up to 40% off Box Office day of game pricing. For more information, visit www.amerks.com/seasontickets or call 1-855-GO-AMERKS.

GAME CENTER
10/20/2017 7:05 PM / Rochester, NY
Charlotte Checkers vs. Rochester Americans
@YOUTUBE/AMERKSHOCKEY