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A BITTERSWEET END OF THE YEAR FOR AMERKS' KEVIN PORTER

By Suzie Cool (@SuzKewl) | Published on June 24, 2020

The 2019-20 AHL season officially came to a close last month and with it came a much-needed sense of closure for many of the Rochester Americans players whose collective hopes of returning were instantly dashed following the cancellation of the remainder of the season. Their final game back on March 11 would be it, and exactly two months later, the league would be forced to make the difficult decision to call it quits on what was the Amerks 64th season in Rochester.

The immediate and sudden transition into the offseason soon followed, giving the Amerks players the closure they needed an opportunity to reflect on what could’ve transpired over those final 14 games of the regular season before embarking on their third straight postseason run. For Amerks captain Kevin Porter, though, the timing of everything could not have been better for the journey that he and his wife, Carrie, were about to begin.

When we last caught up with Porter just a few weeks ago, he was preparing for a pretty big moment in his life and he finally got rid of that quarantine mustache, something we’ve traditionally  seen from him each November, he’d been rocking for far too long.

WATCH: YEAR IN REVIEW WITH KEVIN PORTER

Before we get into just what Porter’s preparation was all about before the abrupt dive into the offseason, let’s examine the season he had during his fifth year here in the Flower City.

Through parts of five seasons with the Amerks dating back to 2012-13, Porter has played in 269 games, lit the lamp 68 times and has served as the team’s captain for three straight seasons now. On top of the countless games he’s played here in Rochester, the veteran forward has seen time with four other clubs during his pro career and has played in over 200 games in the NHL.

With a resume like that, it shouldn’t be all too shocking that his reaction to the abrupt ending of the season was that of disappointment.

“It’s tough and really disappointing. I think we had a really good shot at going a long way. We had a great team, great group of guys and to have the season end like this and to not know what would’ve happened is the disappointing part,” Porter said.

Focusing on just the 2019-20 campaign, Porter saw time in 47 games while recording 23 points on seven goals and 16 assists. He appeared in 500th AHL game back on Nov. 29 against the Toronto Marlies. For a large majority of the season, the veteran was paired on a line with rookie forward Brett Murray and second-year pro Andrew Oglevie in which proved to be one of the most successful and dynamic line combinations of the year.

When we caught up with the Amerks captain, he mentioned how his fellow forwards simple play matched his own style in which turned into a successful combination when they hit the ice with one another.

“I think those guys were willing to learn and they wanted to work hard. I don’t think they wanted to do anything too fancy, which is kind of how I like to play – keep things simple, get pucks deep and just work hard.”

On top of being paired with some younger forwards, Porter again served as one of the most knowledgeable presences on the Amerks roster with his 12 years of hockey experience. Being such a strong veteran force, there’s most definitely a lot that the younger guys can take away from Porter’s style and preparation.

But what happens when you flip that script and the veteran begins to learn from some of the younger players? It seems that as serious as Porter takes the game of hockey, the younger guys on the Amerks roster have taught him to have a little more fun while playing.

“Have a little more fun because I’m usually pretty serious at practices and games. With these younger guys, they keep you young and like to have fun and joke around.”

It may have taken a couple of years of playing professional hockey, but it’s nice to see that Porter is now having more fun than ever thanks to some of the younger guys he’s been paired with over this past year.

Skipping ahead to the 2020-21 campaign, it’s hard to not get excited thinking about hockey being back here in the Flower City. With that being said, though, there’s more than enough time for the Amerks to prep over the offseason to come back better than before even with the limited resources currently available.

Porter made sure to mention that no matter how long the offseason may end up being, the guys should come back in pretty good shape depending on how they look to better themselves over the course of the next couple of months.

“We don’t know how long this offseason is going to be. It could be a regular offseason or it could be a little bit longer. Depending on how guys take care of their bodies and what they do in the gym and away from the rink, I think if guys take care of themselves then we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Now, let’s get into the exciting offseason news and in the words of Porter, “I can officially call myself a girl dad!”

On May 21, the Porters brought their new baby girl, Charlotte, into the world.

Congratulations, ‘Ports’, and enjoy this offseason navigating the journey of becoming a brand-new girl dad!