By Erica Whyte
With two-year team MVP and steadfast Amerks goalie Linus Ullmark making his inevitable graduation to the NHL at the beginning of this season, fans and players alike wondered: who would replace him?
In came Scott Wedgewood.
A veteran goaltender with NHL experience, but also large gaps in his playing history left people wary of the new Amerks addition, yet it took the Etobicoke, Ontario, native only a few games to prove that he could be – and would be – a key component to Rochester’s success during the 2018-19 campaign.
“The regular-season was great. It was a fun feeling going into every night feeling like we had a chance to win,” the 26-year-old reflected on locker cleanout day.
“With this group, and the way we felt in the room every night, we had a chance to win before we even got on the ice. So that’s a nice feeling as a goaltender,” he continued.
WATCH: SCOTT WEDGEWOOD YEAR-END INTERVIEW
The veteran netminder recorded a career-best 28-14-2 record with a 2.68 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. He also notched the second-most wins in the AHL, and the second-most shutouts with five, the most by an Amerk since Ryan Miller in 2004-2005.
However, according to the goalie himself, his biggest accomplishment was not scoreboard numbers, but his mental growth and the confidence he gained this year.
“Coming off a season last year with not many games played, and the season before I missed the whole year, I felt confident in what I did, and I proved to myself that the workload, and that many games, and being behind a team can still be done,” Wedgewood said.
Last season, Wedgewood wore three different uniforms and played 27 games while splitting time between the Binghamton Devils (1), Arizona Coyotes (20) and the Ontario Reign (6). The year before that, he played 10 for the Albany Devils in an injury-shortened season.
WATCH: SCOTT WEGDEWOOD YEAR IN REVIEW WITH ERICA WHYTE
“A lot of the game, everyone knows, is mental. And approaching that with a positive mindset, and challenging myself to get better, that was kind of my mental battle of the year. Trust yourself, trust your game and compete. And I think the biggest takeaway is more inside my head than anywhere else.”
And although the offseason has just begun, Wedgewood is ready to start fine-tuning his game, readying himself for next season.
“Back to the gym and back to the grind,” he said when asked of his summer plans.
“I’ll be in Michigan, I played Juniors there. Home is Toronto, but I like the lakes, and it’ll be a little quieter out there, not as busy.