ALLOW AUSTIN STRAND TO INTRODUCE HIMSELFMar 14, 2023
Austin Strand made quite the impression in his first three games with the Rochester Americans over the weekend. The 6’3” defenseman was acquired by the Buffalo Sabres from the Anaheim Ducks on March 3. Strand had played in 46 games with the San Diego Gulls.
He made his Amerks debut on Friday, March 10, at Blue Cross Arena, and what a debut it was. Strand dropped the gloves just 24 seconds into the third period, and the home crowd went wild.
“To jump in there and fight, and handle himself really well in that fight, and get the crowd going afterward says a lot,” Amerks head coach Seth Appert said after the game on Friday.
Although Strand said he’ll only fight when he needs to, it’s a testament to how well he’s already fitting in to the Rochester locker room. “I’m getting to know all the guys really well,” he said after the game.
“I really like the style of play, all the smart forwards. I feel like it’s been a good fit… and I feel like the team seems to have a lot of good chemistry and gel really well.”
Strand also recorded an assist on Jeremy Davies’ first period goal, which Strand attributed to how easy it’s been to play on a defensive pairing with veteran Matt Bartkowksi.
“I really feel like me and Bart have been playing well together,” Strand said after Sunday’s game. “Getting some good offense here and there, trying to get my shot through. Being physical and good break-outs.” The pair logged an average 18 minutes of ice time over the weekend.
After the three-in-three set, the Amerks still sit in 4th place — and a playoff spot — in the North Division with 16 games remaining. The team controls its own destiny, and that’s an attitude that Austin Strand noticed upon arrival.
“I could tell right away how things are pretty crispy and snappy, and everyone has that edge to know where we are in the standings,” Strand explained after a week of practice with the team.
The Amerks host the Laval Rocket, who trail the Amerks by a single point in the standings, on Wednesday night at Blue Cross Arena. It’s sure to be another battle, but Strand will add a fresh face to the Rochester roster this time.
And facing all these new teams was something Strand was immediately excited about after being traded from the Western Conference to the East. But the biggest difference between playing in the East?
“Better ice,” Strand jokes.
Strand and the Amerks hit the ice on Wednesday night for a 7:05pm puck drop before they hit the road for a Pennsylvania back-to-back over the weekend.