News | 10/4/2011 4:04:11 PM | Dan Peters

Photo: Nick Crawford (Micheline Veluvolu)

The Rochester Americans are hard at work this week as they go about final preparations for their regular season opener this Saturday in Hamilton. A straight week of uninterrupted practice following the exhibition game last Friday is allowing head coach Ron Rolston to evaluate the team one last time prior to the drop of the puck on the new season and also provide a more complete analysis of what he has observed to this point.     

“Looking at our team, I think we are going to be strong from the net out,” Rolston said following practice on Tuesday.”

This assertion comes despite the fact that neither Drew MacIntyre, who made the trip to Europe with Buffalo, nor David Leggio, who has missed the last few days with injury, has been able to practice much with the team. 

“We are hoping that David will be back on Thursday.  They are taking it slow to make sure that he is back at the baseline before he returns,” said Rolston.

Rolston then went on to praise the strength of the team’s defensive corps, noting, “You can see how well they skate. I think they are good defenders, but I also think they are going to be able to create a lot of offense back there.”

Among the newest additions to the backend is 6-foot-8 Joe Finley, who has officially signed an American Hockey League contract after coming into training camp on a try-out basis. 

“I couldn’t be happier,” the towering defenseman remarked on Monday.  “With every guy in the dressing room from Buffalo all the way here to Rochester and some guys who have played other places, it’s a great organization top to bottom and I am just happy to be a part of it now.” 

Finley admitted that he is looking forward to the year and getting into a better rhythm with his new teammates. In addition, the 24 year-old is ready to move on and continue to develop after seeing his past two seasons severely shortened due to injury.

In reference to what Finley can provide for the team, Rolston said “we like a lot of what he has brought to the table in practice and the exhibition game. He’s big, has a good stick, skates well and has kept the game simple offensively.”

On the offensive side of things, Rolston acknowledged that the unit will include a number of young players, but likes its overall depth. 

“There will be a lot of energy along with enthusiasm and I expect a lot of growing as the season goes on.”

Rochester native Derek Whitmore expanded on his coach’s comments, saying, “Up front, all four lines have to expect to put the puck in the net.  We have a lot of team speed and we want to play the game fast with quick transition, which is something that I think filters down through the whole organization from up top in Buffalo. Having that is going to help us win a lot of hockey games.”

One veteran player that Rolston will be expecting to provide leadership is winger Michael Ryan, who is back for his second-stint with Rochester. 

“He has a lot of experience between playing for Buffalo and in this league that he can pass on to the younger players.” 

Rolston was also quick to point out Ryan’s talent level and the attributes he can bring to the ice. 

“He can skate, score goals, and he will definitely be relied upon to create some offense for us.”
When asked about starting on the road, the first-year head coach explained that he believes it is the best way to start after having just one exhibition game.

“It gives us an opportunity to not worry about pleasing the fans right away and allows guys to get comfortable with what their roles are early on before we get back home.”

Leading up to Saturday night’s contest, Rolston claimed that the coaching staff is still working toward determining the optimal lineup. 

“We still have to make some decisions about who the right players are for here and what is going to make our team the strongest.”

Another decision that will likely be made by the end of the week is the team’s captaincy. 

“Right now we have some ideas on it, but we are watching how the leadership goes and who steps up,” said Rolston. 

With this in mind, however, he also maintained that there are multiple players who can be influential in such a manner. 

“I think we have a number of guys who can be a part of a leadership group on this team and help steer it, but it’s just a matter of whom.”

VS.  Lake Erie Monsters  
 October 09, 2015 - 07:05 PM 1 2 3F
 Lake Erie Monsters 1 2 03
 Rochester Americans 3 0 36