Tonight’s Game: The Rochester Americans kickoff the busy holiday week tonight when they take on the North Division rival Hamilton Bulldogs in a pre-Thanksgiving bout at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 matchup will be the fourth of eight meetings between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS FAN GUIDE
AUDIO: CHRIS TAYLOR WITH DON STEVENS
2013-14 AHL STANDINGS 2013-14 NHL STANDINGS
2013-14 ROCHESTER STATS 2013-14 BUFFALO STATS
2013-14 HAMILTON STATS 2013-14 MONTREAL STATS
WEDNESDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST
Head-to-Head: Rochester has claimed two of the first three get-togethers with Hamilton this season and has picked up five of a possible six points after posting a 3-1 victory in the teams’ last encounter two weeks ago in Southern Ontario. The Amerks received a pair of goals from Luke Adam behind a 26-save effort from goaltender Matt Hackett as Rochester improved to 2-0-1-0 this season and 87-70-10 all-time against the Montreal Canadiens’ affiliate.
Amerks Notes: Rochester (7-7-2-2, 18 points) enters the contest in the midst of a season-long four-game skid after coming up empty-handed in a 2-0 loss to the Utica Comets Saturday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Jamie Tardif registered a team-high six shots, while Hackett finished with 27 saves for the Amerks, who despite the loss, remain just three points back of the Toronto Marlies and Hamilton Bulldogs for the top spot in the American Hockey League’s North Division. Rochester remains without its leading point-getter Adam and top defenseman Brayden McNabb, whose impressive starts to the 2013-14 season quickly earned them both NHL recalls to the parent Buffalo Sabres last week. Adam, who continues to lead the Amerks with 18 points (13+5) through his first 15 games of the season, is currently tied for second in the league lead with 13 goals, in addition to pacing the AHL with seven power-play tallies and four game-winning markers. The former AHL Rookie of the Year is off to the best start in his pro career, having found the back of the net in 10 of Rochester’s first 18 games this season, and is already just two goals shy of matching the 15 he scored in 67 games last season. Additionally, Adam’s stretch of a goal in five straight games still stands as the longest in the league to date. Phil Varone, who leads the Amerks with 13 assists and ranks second on the team with 17 points, has recorded at least one point in 12 of his first 18 games this season, a stretch that still features the AHL’s longest assist streak and the eighth-longest point streak of the year (8 games). Varone, despite being held scoreless in four of his last five games, enters play tonight tied for ninth in the AHL in assists. More impressively, four of Rochester’s top 10 scorers are defensemen, who as a group have recorded 36 points (10+26) over the last 16 games. Leading the way is McNabb, whose 12 points (2+10) place him fourth on the team and 12th in scoring among AHL blueliners.
Hamilton Notes: Hamilton (9-7-0-3, 21 points), wrapping up a brief two-game road swing tonight, comes into the matchup riding an AHL-best four-game winning streak courtesy of a 3-0 whitewash of the defending Eastern Conference champion Syracuse Crunch Saturday at the War Memorial at Oncenter. Nathan Beaulieu (1+1), Christian Thomas (1+1) and Martin St. Pierre (0+2) also collected two assists, while Dustin Tokarski stymied his former team by stopping all 43 shots, the most by a goaltender in a shutout this season, to help the Bulldogs pull into a first place tie. The win capped an impressive three-game stretch for the Hamilton netminder, who went 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average and a .980 save percentage and stopped 98 of 100 shots to earn CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors. Tokarski, whose started four straight and six of the last seven games for the Bulldogs, ranks second in the AHL in both goals-against average (1.91) and save percentage (.935), allowing two goals or fewer in 12 of his 14 appearances. He is also tied for fifth among league goaltenders in wins (8), sixth in saves (362) and seventh in minutes played (785).The Bulldogs come to the Flower City fueled by St. Pierre, who paces the team with 11 assists and 14 points in 16 games this season. The Hamilton captain enters play tonight on a four-game assist streak (0+4) and has points in six of his last seven games. With goals in four of his last five outings, rookie forward Sven Andrigehtto leads the Bulldogs and is tied for sixth among AHL rookies with seven goals.
Up Next: The Amerks get right back to work after the holiday when they host the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday, Nov. 29 at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the second of 10 meetings between the North Division rivals this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.
AMERKS QUICK HITS
- In addition leading the Amerks with a team-high 18 points, Adam is currently tied for second in the league lead with 13 goals, including a league-best seven power-play tallies and four game-winning markers. Adam is also tied for 18th overall among the league’s top point-getters.
- Varone paces the Amerks with 13 assists and ranks second with 17 points, good enough for ninth and 20th in the AHL, respectively.
- The Amerks currently own one of the league’s elite offensive pairings in Varone and Adam. Through 18 games this season, the duo has combined for 10 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 10 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 5-3-1-1 when Varone and Adam register a point in the same game.
- Second-year forward Frederick Roy is currently 13th in the league with 52 penalty minutes.
- Mike Zigomanis, who has been plus-one or better in six of his last 12 games, shows a team-best plus-seven on-ice rating.
- With 10 points (1+9) over his last 11 games, including a career-high four-point night (1+3) at Syracuse on Nov. 1, McNabb is fourth on the team and tied for 12th in scoring among AHL blueliners with 12 points on two goals and 10 assists. The third-year pro is also leads all defensemen and is tied for third overall with eight power-play assists.
- Second-year defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc has significantly increased his offensive production to an impressive six points (1+5) in 17 games, having already matched last season’s total in assists and moving within one point of the seven he captured in 48 games as a rookie in 2012-13.
- Goaltender Matt Hackett, whose started three of the last four games, enters the contest boasting a 4-6-2 record with a 3.06 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. His 370 saves rank fifth among AHL netminders, while his 745 minutes between the pipes are ninth-most.
- As a team, the Amerks are fifth among Western Conference clubs with 321 total penalty minutes, while also averaging the 14th-most PIMs per game in the AHL with 17.83.
- 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.
ROSTER SHAKE-UP: The Amerks’ roster was bolstered by two following last week’s reassignment of forward Johan Larsson and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to Rochester after the pair began the season with the parent Buffalo Sabres. Ristolainen, whose 19 games with the Sabres were the most among the two, is in his first North American season after spending the previous three years playing in the Finnish league with his hometown TPS Turku. Larsson makes his first return to Rochester, where he joined the Amerks for the final seven games of the regular season in 2012-13 and finished third overall with 41 points (16+25) in 69 combined AHL games between Rochester and Houston. With the recent influx of talent, the Amerks now have three first-round draft picks in their lineup, including Ristolainen (8th overall in 2013), Joel Armia (16th overall, 2011) and Colton Gillies (16th overall, 2007).
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 16 games, Amerks blueliners have recorded 36 points (10+26), the most of which from McNabb, whose 12 points (2+10) are 12th-most among AHL rearguards. The Amerks are 3-1-2-1 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 17 games, scoring 21 times on 88 man-advantage opportunities for a 23.8% efficiency rate over that span. The Amerks, who have scored at least one power-play goal in 13 of their first 18 games this season, including 12 in their last 12, currently have the fourth-best power-play in the league with a 22.6% overall success rate. Rochester also has the fourth-best unit on the road (22.2%) and the fifth-most productive power-play at home (23.1%).
BY THE NUMBERS: The Amerks are 7-2-1-1 (16 points) this season against North Division rivals, but show an 0-5-1-1 (2 points) mark versus non-divisional foes. The Amerks have scored the first goal in 12 of the first 18 games this season and show a 7-2-1-2 record when doing so, including a 4-1-1-1 mark at home. Rochester is also 6-0-0-1 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 six of their last eight home games, including a four-game winning streak from Oct. 11 to Nov. 6, the Amerks currently have the 14th-best home record in the AHL with a mark of 4-3-1-1 (10 points) through their first nine home matchups of the season.
WHO’S HOT: Veteran forward Mike Zigomanis shows 15 points (7+8) in his last 14 games, a stretch that includes a four-point (2+2) night against Utica on Oct. 19 and the game-winning goal in his return to Toronto on Oct. 26… Kevin Sundher has notched eight points (1+7) over his last 11 contests… After making his Amerks debut in Hamilton on Nov. 13, forward Joel Armia has three points (1+2) through the first six games of his North American career, while newcomer Johan Larsson, fresh off a two-assist effort against Utica last Friday, has two points in his hirst three games back with the Amerks… Veteran forward Patrick Kaleta has produced three points (1+2) in his five games with the Amerks after being assigned to Rochester earlier this month… With points in all but six games this season, Varone remains Rochester’s most consistent point-getter. After seeing his eight-game point streak snapped earlier this month against Hamilton, Varone picked up right where he left off by collecting five points (2+3) over his last nine games. Varone’s eight-game assist streak also remains the longest in the AHL to date. Adam, whose unbelievable start to the season earned him a recall to the Buffalo Sabres last Wednesday, shows 16 points (12+4) through his last 12 contests, including back-to-back two-goal games over that span. Adam has found the back of the net in 10 of Rochester’s first 18 games this season, including five straight outings between Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, which still stands as the longest stretch in the AHL. Alexander Sulzer, who became the latest to join the big club, has seven points (2+5) over his last eight games and Jamie Tardif has seven points (1+6) over his last 11 appearances.
MILESTONE WATCH: After appearing in his 400th pro game at Hamilton on Oct. 25, veteran defenseman Drew Bagnall is a mere two games away from 400 for his AHL career… Amerks captain Matt Ellis is six games away from 400 in the AHL and needs another eight goals to reach the 100-mark for his AHL career… Forward Alex Hutchings needs four more points to hit the century mark for his pro career… Kaleta is eight games shy of 100 in the red, white and blue and needs just two more tilts to reach 400 for his pro career… Sulzer notched his 200th pro point with an assist vs. Hamilton on Nov. 6, while the same game also saw Zigomanis record his 300th pro assist and Varone capture his 100th career AHL assist.
Food Drive - Tonight concludes the Amerks Food Drive to benefit Foodlink, the regional food bank. Fans are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items by dropping them off in collection bins in front of The Blue Cross Arena Box Office, located in the lower atrium, prior to each of the next three games. The items will then be donated to Foodlink. Any fan that donates two unopened, non-perishable food items in the Foodlink bins located at the Box Office windows prior to any of the next three home games will be eligible to purchase “Buy One-Get One Free” tickets to any of the aforementioned games.
Score with Subway! – With an Amerks victory during any regular season home game during the 2013-14 season, fans can log onto amerks.com to download a coupon good for one free regular six-inch sub with the purchase of a 30 oz drink. If the Amerks do not happen to win, fans still score with Subway by logging onto amerks.com to download a coupon for two free cookies the following day at participating Subway restaurants in the Rochester area. Restrictions apply. The coupons are only good the day after each Amerks home game at participating Subway restaurants in the greater Rochester area.
Taco Bell In-Store – Fans can receive a coupon/voucher for a $15 best available ticket to Friday night Amerks home games during the 2013-14 season ($9 off box office price). Turn in the coupon at the box office in order to purchase the discounted tickets or enter in the promo code (TACO) on ticketmaster.com to redeem the offer. Fans must turn in Taco Bell coupon at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office or enter the promo code on ticketmaster.com to purchase the discounted tickets.
Taco Bell “We Win, You Win” – For each home game the Amerks win, fans will be able to redeem their ticket stub at a participating Taco Bell location the following day to receive a free seasoned beef taco.
Moe’s Hot Player of the Game – At each home game, three Amerks players will be selected as the “hot players” of the game. If any of the three Amerks players scores a goal, fans will be able to redeem a coupon in the Amerks Stars & Stripes Roster Card (limited amount available upon entry) for 50% off any entrée at participating Moe’s locations the following day. If any of the three Amerks players scores a hat trick, fans will also be able to redeem a coupon in the Amerks Stars & Stripes Roster Card for an enhanced offer (free burrito) at participating Moe’s locations the following day. Tonight's Moe's Hot Players are Phil Varone, Colton Gillies and Chad Ruhwedel.
Buckmans Car Wash – Amerks home game ticket stubs will be good at all Buckmans Car Wash locations for discounted car wash after all home games at all Buckmans Car Wash locations in the area.
Eats and Seats - The Amerks and The Distillery have teamed up again for the 2013-14 season to give our fans delicious food and the opportunity to enjoy the best hockey the Rochester area has to offer with the Amerks! The Distillery “Eats & Seats” package costs $22.00 and includes one 'best-available' ticket and one $10 Distillery Gift Card. The certificates can be used at The Distillery's four locations: 1142 Mt Hope Ave. (Rochester), 3010 Winton Road South (Brighton), 300 Paddy Creek Circle (Greece) and 10 Square Drive (Victor).
Amerks Happy Hour – The Amerks will host a pre-Thanksgiving Happy Hour from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Upper Atrium Bar featuring live music and $2 Molson and Coors Light drafts for fans age 21 and over.