Despite dropping each of their last two road games in regulation for just the second time of the 2018-19 campaign, the Rochester Americans (29-15-3-2) remain atop the American Hockey League’s North Division going into the club’s three-in-three, which includes a home-and-home series with the Syracuse Crunch this weekend. The Crunch are hot on Rochester’s tail, sitting just two points back with two games in hand on the Amerks.
The Amerks have collected 17 out of a possible 24 points in their last 12 games and also notched 25 points in its last 19 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26.
RECENT GAMES RECAP
After extending their point streak to a season-long 10 games with a 7-1 win this past Friday night against the Springfield Thunderbirds, the Amerks suffered a pair of 5-2 setbacks on Saturday in Utica as well as Cleveland on Tuesday.
On Friday, the Amerks, who inducted a Steve Langdon and Doug Janik into the team’s Hall of Fame prior to the contest with the Thunderbirds, scored a season-high five goals during the final frame of regulation. With the victory, Rochester improved to 6-2-0-0 all-time against Springfield and have won five of the last six get-togethers.
With his second four-point night of the season which featured his first-professional hat trick, Victor Olofsson took over the team lead in scoring while fellow Swede Rasmus Asplund recorded his second-career three-point (1+2) outing of the slate. Danny O’Regan and Matt Tennyson both chipped in with a pair of assists as Wayne Simpson, Scott Wilson and Eric Cornel all lit the lamp for the Amerks.
Goaltender Scott Wedgewood set a new personal-high with his 17th win of the season as he stopped 19 of 20 shots he faced. The netminder has a 9-4-1 record over his last 14 games dating back to the day after Christmas.
On Saturday night, the Amerks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening period before the Comets responded with five straight goals, including three in a span of 58 seconds, to snap Rochester’s season-long 10-game point streak.
Rochester’s point streak was the club’s longest since a 10-game stretch between Nov. 21 and Dec. 13 of last season.
Olofsson found the scoresheet as he booked his 19th goal of the season, tying him with Zach Redmond for the most among all Amerks skaters, while Wayne Simpson also scored in the defeat.
In their only Tuesday tilt of the campaign, the Amerks dropped a 5-2 decision in Cleveland. It was just the second time all season that the Amerks suffered back-to-back regulation road losses.
Forward Remi Elie scored his first goal as an Amerk and later assisted on Wayne Simpson’s third-period goal for the Amerks, who show a record of 24-6-2-3 against Cleveland since the start of the 2011-12 season, which includes a 10-2-1-0 record in the last 14 meetings.
With Simpson’s 16th goal of the season, the Boxborough, Mass., native reached the 30-point plateau for the fourth straight season and tied a career-best in goals through 48 games.
OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY
On the strength of his second four-point effort of the season last Friday highlighted by his first-career hat trick, Victor Olofsson leads the club with 43 points (19+24) in 46 games this season and is one of just two Rochester skaters to surpass the 40-point mark. A year after pacing the SHL with 27 goals, Olofsson has been averaging nearly a point-per-game, leading the team with 24 assists while sharing the team-lead in goals (19). Olofsson, who earned CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for October, is also tied for third in the AHL in game-winning goals (6) and 14th in power-play assists (13) while ranking 15th among the league’s top point-getters. He hasn’t gone more than three straight games without a point all season.
C.J. REMAINS IN BUFFALO
Prior to earning his second NHL recall to the Buffalo Sabres last Monday, C.J. Smith recorded 22 points (11+11) in his last 16 games with Rochester dating back to Dec. 14. Smith, who scored his second goal in as many games with the big club on Monday, has scored a career-high 18 goals while his 23 assists rank second-most on the club. Smith has 41 points in 41 games this season for Rochester, tying him for 21st among the league’s top scorers.
RECORD BELONGS TO REDMOND
Veteran defenseman Zach Redmond broke the 46-year-old single-season franchise record for most goals by a defenseman back on Jan. 23, scoring his team-leading 19th goal of the season in a 7-5 win over the Binghamton Devils at The Blue Cross Arena. The 30-year-old blueliner surpassed Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti, who set the original mark with 18 goals during the 1972-73 campaign. He’ll also become the first defenseman in the 63-year history of the franchise to reach the 20-goal mark on his next goal. Redmond also remains on pace to tie the AHL record of 30, set by John Stanley during the 1990-00 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Redmond has scored a team and career-high 19 goals, including nine on the power-play, good enough for ninth in the league in that category. Redmond, who had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, enters the week leading all AHL defenseman with 39 points, while his eight game-winning goals are tops in the AHL. His 19 goals and 138 shots are also the most by an AHL blueliner this season.
STAYING BUSY BETWEEN THE PIPES
Rochester goaltender Scott Wedgewood (17-8-2) has gotten the nod in 14 of the last 22 games for the Amerks, going 9-4-1 over that span while winning eight of his last 11 dating back to a 31-save shutout at Cleveland the day after Christmas. After dropping his first two games of the season, the sixth-year netminder won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, matching the career-best mark he set while backstopping the Albany Devils during the 2015-16 season. He enters the weekend tied for third among all AHL goaltenders in shutouts (3) while his career-high 17 wins are tied for sixth.
At 14-6-3-1 (32 points), Rochester has the second-best road record in the AHL and have the third-most regulation wins away from home with 14. The Amerks are just one of two in the league this season with only six regulation losses on the road having collected at least one point in 18 of their 24 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks have won eight of their last 13 road contests dating back to their 4-3 win at Syracuse on Dec. 8 while also outscoring the opposition 43-37 over that span.
DIVISIONAL GAMES AND FAMILIAR FACES
The Amerks continue a busy week with three games over the next four days on Friday as they welcome back the Syracuse Crunch at The Blue Cross Arena. Friday’s matchup will be the first of four meetings between the two clubs over Rochester’s next nine games. Equally as important, Friday night’s showdown will be the first-leg of the home-and-home set will be the third game of 11 straight Divisional games for the Amerks, who will close out their second three-and-three against Binghamton on Sunday afternoon.