By Erica Whyte
After gaining a point in the a 3-2 shootout loss to the Binghamton Senators on Wednesday night, the Rochester Americans (32-41-0-3) concluded their 61st season with a home-and-home split against the North Division rival Albany Devils. Each team won on home ice, with the Amerks coming away with a 5-4 win on Friday and the Devils closing out the series with a 3-0 win in Albany on Saturday.
BINGHAMTON (3) AT ROCHESTER (2)
Despite scoring in the first period for the seventh straight game and putting up a season-high 48 shots, the Amerks were unable to grab both points in Wednesday’s final meeting of the season with the Senators at The Blue Cross Arena. The loss was just the third in the last 10 games for Rochester on home ice as the Amerks held a 7-2-0-1 record over that span dating back to March 4.
Rookie Alex Kile tied the contest late in the first period with his second pro goal while former Senator Derek Grant added his 10th of the campaign and fourth against his former club. After winning three of his first four starts in the crease for the Amerks, Jonas Johansson took his third straight defeat after making 16 saves to fall to 3-3-1 on the season.
ALBANY (4) AT ROCHESTER (5)
In Friday’s matchup, Evan Rodrigues led the Amerks to the win with three assists, which tied a career-high he set back on March 4 last season versus Springfield. Grant and Justin Bailey each chipped in multi-point efforts as they added a goal and an assist on the night. Hudson Fasching, Casey Nelson and Alexander Nylander capped off the scoring for Rochester, which improved to 9-2-0-1 in its last 12 games on home ice.
ROCHESTER (0) AT ALBANY (3)
On Saturday, Rochester could not find a way to solve rookie goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood of the Devils as the Amerks concluded their 61st season with a 3-0 loss at the Times Union Center. The contest was the second-half of a home-and-home split that each team won on home ice. Linus Ullmark, voted Most Valuable Player by his teammates, made his 55th appearance between the pipes. Ullmark closed out the season winning three of his final four starts while leading the AHL in saves, games played and minutes played.
LENDING A HAND
When addressing media for the final time of the season during Monday’s locker cleanout day, Amerks head coach Dan Lambert discussed how having 16 players playing for both Rochester and Buffalo was one of the biggest determiners of this year’s season.
“I’d like to think that we did the best we could with what we had, at times. In saying that, we didn’t win enough hockey games. We have to find a way to win more hockey games.”
After winning eight of their final 13 games, the Amerks closed out the season sitting in sixth place in the North Division, marking the third straight year they have missed the playoffs. However, Lambert also noted that when an organization is in the midst of a rebuild, results take time.
“When you empty the cupboard, it doesn’t just fill itself. It takes time, and it takes drafts, and it takes trades and everything else, and that process is taking place right now.”
AMERKS 2016-17 YEAR-END AWARD WINNERS
Most Valuable Player - Linus Ullmark
Scoring Champion - Cole Schneider
Rookie of the Year - Alexander Nylander
AHL Man of the Year Award - Mac Bennett
McCulloch Trophy for Community Service - Mac Bennett
Fairand/O'Neil Sportsmanship Award - Linus Ullmark
Rob Zabelny Unsung Hero Award - Justin Vaive
Most Improved Player - Eric Cornel
Most Popular Player - Linus Ullmark
Game-Winning Goals - Nick Baptiste (4) / Cole Schneider (4)
FINAL SCORING LEADERS
1. Cole Schneider: 24G - 39A - 63 PTS
2. Nicholas Baptiste: 25G - 16A - 42 PTS
3. Mat Bodie: 10G - 29A - 39 PTS
4. Justin Bailey: 23G - 13A - 36 PTS
5. Evan Rodrigues: 9G - 21A - 30 PTS
FINAL GOALTENDING LEADERS
1. Linus Ullmark: 26-27-2; 2.87 GAA; .909 SV%
2. Jonas Johansson: 3-3-1; 2.85 GAA; .892 SV%
3. John Muse: 3-8-0; 3.08 GAA; .907 SV%
Stay tuned to Amerks.com throughout the coming weeks for added coverage of locker cleanout day.