A WELL-DESERVED CONTRACT EXTENSION FOR AN ALWAYS GRATEFUL MERSCHOct 5, 2022
By Suzie Cool
Rochester Americans captain Michael Mersch agreed to a one-year contract extension that will keep him in the Flower City through the 2023-24 season.
I asked head coach Seth Appert why it was so important to extend the captain for another year and his answer was simple:
“He’s earned it,” said Appert.
On Sept. 29, Mersch agreed to a one-year extension to buffer his already two-year American Hockey League deal he signed in the summer of 2021. An extension Mersch greatly earned after his 2021-22 campaign in Rochester, his best season in the American Hockey League yet.
“There’s a lot of exciting younger players that come through and players that have been around for a little bit, too. So, just being able to be considered a leader by them and by everybody from the staff down,” commented Mersch when discussing what it was like to captain the Amerks last season. “I just like to win hockey games, have fun and kind of be myself and so when that all goes together, and goes well, we've been able to have success on the ice.”
Success was exactly what Mersch found last season. On top of captaining the Amerks to the North Division Finals of the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, the veteran forward finished last season with 54 points on 26 goals and 28 assists, all of which were, or matched, career totals in the league and pushed him over the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his pro career.
From the condensed 2020-21 campaign, Mersch has made a major impact in Rochester. Going from a professional tryout to the Amerks captain in a year’s time is no small feat and he’s continued to watch his role with the organization evolve over his two years in the Flower City.
“Last year I was fortunate enough to be named captain,” commented Mersch when asked how different his role looks now as opposed to when he first became an Amerk. “Just being a leader and being there for the younger guys and being with the older guys, too. So, there's a lot of different parts that go into it, while being an extension of the coaching staff to make sure their message is getting across to all the guys on the team as well.”
The thing is, Mersch is no stranger to the league as he sets out on his ninth professional season.
Originally, Mersch was a fourth-round pick (110th overall) of the Los Angeles Kings in 2011, and a veteran of 377 AHL games prior to his arrival in Rochester. The Amerks captain also appeared in 44 career playoff contests, including 18 in 2014-15 when he led the Manchester Monarchs to the Calder Cup as a rookie.
Through his first six professional seasons prior to coming to Rochester, Mersch had put up a quality stat line of 245 points on 122 goals and 123 assists in the regular season. Not to overlook Mersch’s 16 tallies and 19 helpers in postseason action, or the three different organizations that he played for between the Ontario Reign, Texas Stars and Monarchs.
Even more impressive are his numbers as an Amerk – a sample size of 93 games, 34 goals and 39 assists for 73 points – another reason as to why Mersch earned that extra year on his fresh new contract. The on-ice product for the last two seasons clearly speaks for itself, but it’s the mentorship of the younger players and the reliability from the coaching staff that is keeping Mersch here even longer from an organizational standpoint.
“He’s earned it in so many areas that it's not just what we see on the ice,” Appert raved on about the captain’s efforts. “His on-ice play is earned, but on top of the goals and assists and the puck battles and the things he does in games, what he does in practice, the habits that he goes about his daily business with, what he does in the locker room, the example that he sets, how hard he works in the weight room, the time he puts into his game and in the shooting room, he sets such a perfect example of hard work, of competitiveness, of professionalism that we want all of our young prospects in this organization to look up to.”
The best part about the Amerks captain is that despite all Mersch has already done for the Amerks, he feels that he’s the one who’s fortunate to be able to play for Rochester and in front of the fans at The Blue Cross Arena.
So, he left you all with this going into the Amerks 2022-23 season beginning on Oct. 14:
“I'm fortunate to have the fans…and to be able to play in front of them.”