Today’s Game: The Rochester Americans’ arduous stretch of seven games in 11 days continues Wednesday morning when the Amerks make their way over the border for a North Division showdown with the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum. The 10:00 a.m. special school day game will be the third of eight scheduled meetings on the season between the longtime foes and can be heard live on 90.5 WBER.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
2013-14 AHL STANDINGS 2013-14 NHL STANDINGS
2013-14 ROCHESTER STATS 2013-14 BUFFALO STATS
2013-14 HAMILTON STATS 2013-14 MONTREAL STATS
Head-to-Head: The Amerks knotted the season series at one game apiece courtesy of a 5-3 win over Hamilton in the teams’ previous get-together one week ago today back in Rochester. Rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel scored the first two goals of his professional career, including the eventual game-winner, and Matt Hackett made 20 saves to help the Amerks to their fourth straight win at home. Ruhwedel (2+1), along with his defensive partner, Brayden McNabb (1+2), each show a team-high three points in two games against the Bulldogs so far this season.
Amerks Notes: Rochester (5-3-2-2, 14 points) enters the contest in sole possession of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division after collecting the consolation point following a 2-1 shootout loss to the division rival Lake Erie Monsters Monday evening at The Blue Cross Arena. Veteran forward Patrick Kaleta provided the lone tally in regulation with a shorthanded goal for the Amerks, his first as an Amerk since a three-point showing (1+2) against the Chicago Wolves on Dec. 13, 2007. Despite the setback, though, Rochester’s ascent atop the division standings has seen the Amerks collect points in eight of their last nine games, including each of their last six home games dating back to a 4-1 win over the Utica Comets on Oct. 11. Although being held scoreless in the same game for just the first time this season, the dynamic duo of Phil Varone and Luke Adam remain one of the most elite offensive pairings in the AHL. Varone has recorded at least one point in 10 of his first 12 games this season, a stretch that featured the AHL’s longest active assist streak and eighth-longest point streak over that span. Varone, who currently leads the Amerks with 11 assists and 14 points, has also recorded four multi-point games in his last nine outings and enters play today 11th in the AHL in assists and tied for 14th in overall scoring. Adam, despite seeing his six-game point streak halted over the weekend, shows 10 points (6+4) over his last eight games, including goals in six of his last nine. More impressively, the former AHL Rookie of the Year is off to the best start in his pro career, having scored a goal in eight of Rochester’s first 12 games thus far and still owning the AHL’s longest goal-scoring streak of five games. Adam’s team-leading nine tallies are presently sixth-most in the league, five of which have also come on the power-play, good enough for second in the AHL in that category. Coming into today’s game, four of Rochester’s top 10 scorers are defensemen, who have collectively recorded 30 points (8+22) over the last nine games. The most of which have come from McNabb, whose 11 points (2+9) currently tie him for fifth in scoring among league blueliners.
Hamilton Notes: Hamilton (5-5-0-3, 13 points), playing Game 3 of its current four-game homestand, comes into the matchup in the midst of a four-game skid after dropping a 3-1 decision to the Utica Comets Sunday on home ice. Leading point-getter Sven Andrighetto potted the one goal for the Bulldogs, who also received a 29-save effort from goaltender Dustin Tokarski. Despite Hamilton’s recent struggles, however, the Bulldogs remain just one point back of Rochester for first place in the North Division, but have also played one game more than the Amerks. With goals in each of his last three games, including one against the Amerks last Wednesday, Andrigehtto paces the Bulldogs with six goals and 10 points while appearing in all 13 games thus far for Hamilton. A third-round selection of the Montreal Canadiens in this year’s draft, Andrigehtto ranks 13th in scoring among AHL rookies and leads Hamilton with a plus-six on-ice rating. Andrighetto is also the only Bulldogs player this season to finish each of his first 13 games with an even or better on-ice rating.
Up Next: The Amerks kickoff a two-game trek through the Empire State on Friday, Nov. 15 when they make their first trip to Utica in over 20 years to face the AHL’s newest Comets at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the third of 10 meetings this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- Varone currently leads the Amerks with 11 assists and 14 points, ranking 11th and tied for 14th in the AHL, respectively.
- Adam, who remains at a close second behind Varone with 13 points (9+4), ranks sixth in the league with a team-high nine goals, including five on the power-play, placing him second the AHL in that category.
- The Amerks currently own one of the league’s elite offensive pairings in Varone and Adam. Through 12 games this season, the duo has combined for seven multi-point outings between the two of them. Even more impressively is that the pair has recorded at least one point in the same game eight times already since the puck dropped in October, including five straight between Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, when they totaled 17 points on seven goals and 10 assists. Rochester is 4-2-1-1 when Varone and Adam register a point in the same game.
- Second-year forward Frederick Roy currently fourth third in the league with 52 penalty minutes, while first-year forward Johnny McGuire is eighth among AHL rookies with 27 penalty minutes.
- Mike Zigomanis, who has been plus-one or better in four of his last six games, is tied for seventh in the AHL with plus-eight on-ice rating.
- With nine points (1+8) over his last eight games, including a career-high four-point night (1+3) at Syracuse on Nov. 1, McNabb is third on the team and tied for fifth in scoring among AHL blueliners with 11 points on two goals and nine assists. The third-year pro is also leads all defensemen and is tied for second overall with seven power-play assists.
- Coming off a season-high 32:41 of ice time against Lake Erie on Monday, rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has averaged over 28 minutes of ice time over his last four games, while McNabb, who also skated a season-high 30:40 Monday against the Monsters, has averaged exactly 27 minutes of ice time over that span.
- Second-year defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc has significantly increased his offensive production to an impressive five points (1+4) in 12 games, having already matched last season’s total in assists and moving within two points of the seven he captured in 48 games as a rookie in 2012-13.
- Hackett, whose started nine of the first 12 games this season, including five of the last six, enters the contest boasting a 3-3-2 record with a 3.19 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
- As a team, the Amerks rank lead all Western Conference clubs with 264 total penalty minutes, while also averaging the eighth-most PIMs per game in the AHL with 22.00.
- This year’s edition of the Amerks features two players with lineage to former NHL goaltenders. Roy is the youngest son of Colorado Avalanche head coach and two-time Stanley Cup winner Patrick Roy while Hackett is the nephew of former Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner Jeff Hackett, whose Springfield Indians defeated Rochester four games to two win the 1990 Calder Cup.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE: Much of Rochester’s recent success can be attributed to the increase in offensive contributions from its defensemen. Over the last 10 games, Amerks blueliners have collectively recorded 30 points (8+22), the most of which from McNabb, whose 11 points (2+9) are fifth-most among AHL rearguards. The Amerks are 3-0-2-1 so far this season when a defenseman scores a goal.
SPECIAL TEAMS BREAKDOWN: Rochester’s power-play has been one of the most potent in the AHL over the last 11 games, scoring 17 times on 60 man-advantage opportunities for a 28.3% efficiency rate over that span. The Amerks, who have scored at least one power-play goal in nine of their first 12 games this season, including eight in their last six, currently have the third-best power-play in the league with a 26.8% overall success rate. Rochester also has the second-best unit on the road (29.6%) and the sixth-most productive power-play at home (24.1%).
BY THE NUMBERS: The Amerks are 5-0-1-1 (12 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show an 0-3-1-1 (2 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in eight of the first 12 games this season and show a 5-0-1-2 record when doing so, including a 4-0-1-1 mark at home. Rochester is also 5-0-0-1 when leading after two periods, a streak that also shows an unblemished 4-0-0-0 mark at home.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE: With points in each of their last six home games, including a four-game winning streak from Oct. 11 to Nov. 6, the Amerks currently have the third-best home record in the AHL with a mark of 4-1-1-1 (10 points) through their first seven home matchups of the season. Rochester has also scored 23 goals within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena, tying for sixth-most in the league.
LENDING A HAND: The Buffalo Sabres maybe just 19 games into the new season, but the NHL club has already enlisted the help of two of Rochester’s top scorers from a season ago. Second-year forward Zemgus Girgensons, who’s coming off an impressive rookie campaign with the Amerks in 2012-13, scored his first NHL goal in his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 2 and notched his first assist in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 14. Through 18 games with the Sabres this season, Girgensons has notched five points (1+4) averaging nearly 13 minutes of ice time per game. Fellow second-year pro Johan Larsson also began the season in Buffalo, having appeared in 17 games, including his Sabres debut against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4. The Lau, Sweden, native led all Amerks rookies in scoring last season and finished third overall with 41 points (16+25) in 69 combined AHL games between Rochester and Houston. Larsson recorded his first NHL point with an assist against Anaheim on Nov. 2.
WHO’S HOT: Kaleta enters play today with points in back-to-back games after scoring them lone tally in regulation for the Amerks on Monday… The goal, Rochester’s first shorthanded marker of the season, was Kaleta’s first as an Amerk since a three-point showing (1+2) against the Chicago Wolves on Dec. 13, 2007. With points in all but two games this season, Varone remains Rochester’s most consistent point-getter. After seeing his eight-game point streak snapped in last Wednesday’s win over Hamilton, Varone picked up right where he left off by notching points in each end of a home-and-home series with Binghamton over the weekend. Varone’s eight-game assist streak also remains the longest in the AHL to date and he is also one of just three Amerks playing at a point-per-game pace, joining Adam and veteran defenseman Alexander Sulzer. Adam, who shows 10 points (6+4) through his last nine games, has found the back of the net in eight of Rochester’s first 12 games this season, including five straight outings between Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, which still stands as the longest stretch in the AHL. Sulzer, meanwhile, is currently riding a six-game point streak of two goals and five assists despite missing the last three games with injury. Although having his four-game point streak cut short in Monday’ shootout loss, Jamie Tardif has five points (1+4) in as many games. Ruhwedel has collected six points (2+4) over his last nine games, including the first two goals of his professional career last Wednesday against Hamilton. After adding two assists in a loss to Binghamton on Saturday, Kevin Sundher has four points (1+3) in five games and 13-year pro Mike Zigomanis has recorded nine points (4+5) in his last eight outings, a stretch that includes a four-point (2+2) against the Utica Comets on Oct. 19 and the game-winning goal in his return to Toronto on Oct. 26.
MILESTONE WATCH: After appearing in his 400th pro game at Hamilton on Oct. 25, veteran defenseman Drew Bagnall is seven games away from 400 for his AHL career… Sulzer notched his 200th pro point with an assist vs. Hamilton last Wednesday, while the same game also saw Zigomanis record his 300th pro assist and Varone capture his 100th career AHL assist… Forward Alex Hutchings needs four more points to hit the century mark for his pro career… Kaleta is 10 games shy of 100 in the red, white and blue and needs just four more tilts to reach 400 for his pro career.