GOODBYE, 2018; HELLO, 2019
Rochester closed out December, its busiest month yet, with a 7-6-0-0 record and 14 points, with four of its seven wins coming on home ice. The Amerks won their first three games to open the month before and three of their first at home before dropping both ends of a two-game set with Hartford leading into the Christmas break.
VIEW FROM ABOVE
As the ball has dropped to 2019, the Rochester Americans ring in the New Year boasting a 22-12-2-0 record and holding a two-point lead atop the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
By earning eight of a possible 12 points over its last six games, Rochester is third overall in the Eastern Conference with 46 points with the halfway point of the 2018-19 campaign approaching.
The Amerks have outscored the opposition 117-105 entering the first full week of January and have drawn the second fewest penalties (140) in the Conference.
Rochester boasts the sixth-best offense in the Eastern Conference, averaging 3.25 goals-per-game. Conversely, the Amerks have allowed the fourth-fewest goals-against per game as they have given up an average of 2.92.
Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers have more wins (27) than the Amerks (22), who are second overall in the AHL with a .639 points percentage through 36 games so far this season.
WATCH: DECEMBER 2018 TOP PLAYS
Zach Redmond and Lawrence Pilut have been named to the North Division All-Star roster for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. The annual event will take place Jan. 27-28 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., home of the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Pilut earns his first trip to the annual event after posting 22 points (3+19) despite only appearing in 16 AHL games prior to being recalled by Buffalo on Nov. 21. The former SHL Defenseman of the Year has a team-best plus-19 on-ice rating that is tied for third-best in the AHL.
Currently in his first American Hockey League season after being named the SHL’s top defenseman in 2017-18, Pilut has been more than a point-per-game player for Rochester, recording 22 points (3+19) from the blueline as well as a team-best plus-19 on-ice rating that is tied for third-best in the AHL. The Tingsryd, Sweden, native began the season with four multi-point efforts through his first seven games, including three separate three-point efforts over that span, before totaling nine points (1+8) over a season-long seven-game point streak to open the month of November. He’s been held scoreless just three times all season and hasn’t gone more than one game without a point.
Pilut’s offensive output earned him a recall to the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 21 and he’s remained with the big club since, picking up five points (1+4) in 12 NHL appearances. He added in his first NHL goal earlier this week in Buffalo’s 5-1 home rout over New Jersey on Tuesday. Despite currently being on recall, he remains among Rochester’s top five point-getters and is tied for 15th in scoring among all AHL defensemen coming into the New Year despite only appearing in 16 games this season. His 19 assists are also tied for seventh-most amongst blueliners.
Redmond, who earns his first trip to the AHL All-Star Classic since 2012, is on a record-setting pace to etch his name in team and league history. The 30-year-old veteran blueliner has scored a team-high 16 goals in 36 games this season, including eight on the power-play, good enough for fifth in the league in that category. Redmond, who had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, enters the New Year tied for 11th in the league in goals (15) and ranks second amongst all active AHL defensemen with 30 points, while his seven game-winning goals are tops in the AHL.
Earlier this season, the Traverse City, Mich., native became the fastest Amerks defenseman to score 10 goals in the fewest amount of games to begin the season since Amerks Hall of Famer Don McSween reached the mark in his first 21 games during the 1989-90 campaign. Redmond achieved the feat in only 10 games. Redmond, who last season became just the first Amerk blueliner in seven years to lead the team in scoring, recently set a new career-high with his team-leading 16th goal of the season and needs only two more goals to tie the single-season franchise record for the most by a defenseman of 18, set by Rick Pagnutti during the 1972-73 season. The AHL record for goals by a defenseman is held by John Slaney, who netted 30 for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins during the 1999-00 campaign.
BACK ON TOP
Thanks to six assists over his last six games, Victor Olofsson has a share of the team’s scoring lead along with Redmond to begin the New Year. A year after pacing the SHL with 27 goals, Olofsson has been nearly a point-per-game player for Rochester, leading the team with 20 assists and 30 points through his first 33 games of the campaign. He’s currently tied for 20th in the AHL in assists, while his 10 goals are fifth-most among all Rochester skaters. He also ranks fifth in the league with 13 power-play assists. The Örnsköldsvik, Sweden native has not gone more than two games without a point all season
POWER-PLAY HEATING BACK UP
The Amerks power-play unit has gone 9-for-27 over their last six road games, which has helped the club grab the top spot in the AHL with a 29.7% rate while on away ice. Overall, Rochester’s man-advantage, which has scored 12 goals in its last 88 opportunities, ranks sixth in the league with a 21.4% success rate.
Rochester’s netminder Scott Wedgewood has gotten the nod in seven of the last 10 games for the Amerks, going 5-2-0 over that span, which includes a four-game win streak. After dropping his first two games of the season, the sixth-year netminder won 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. The 26-year-old netminder enters the week tied for third among all AHL goaltenders in shutouts (3) and fourth in wins (13). Wedgewood’s 22 appearances this season are eighth-most in the league while his 1,206 minutes are ninth. Wedgewood is one shutout away from tying a career-best from 2013-14 while with the Devils.
HOME-AND-HOME WITH DEFENDING CHAMPS THIS WEEKEND
Following five straight weeks of three games in four nights, the Amerks return to action on Friday, Jan. 11 as they begin a home-and-home series with the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies at The Blue Cross Arena
After dropping three straight games against the Marlies dating back to the 2017-18 season, Rochester has come away with the victory in each of the last five meetings in the head- to-head series, while outscoring Toronto 27-15 over that span. In 11 of the last 14 meetings dating back to the 2016-17 season, the team that scored first has gone onto come away with the victory while the Amerks’ penalty kill has successfully killed off 32 of the 36 penalties against the Marlies dating back to last season.
Both of this weekend’s contests with the Marlies will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.