Jan 25, 2023

By Suzie Cool


The Rochester Americans come into tonight looking to halt a four-game slide as they take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the first time this season.


Both Rochester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton boast nearly identical records despite the Penguins having played two more games. Rochester has 10 home wins while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has 11 road victories.



As the Amerks are looking to turn things around against a Penguins team that’s produced 58% of their wins on the road this season, Rochester will shake up its lines a bit, featuring a different lineup from its three games last week. The reason for this: the Amerks produced 98 shots last week and scored only three goals.


“We tweaked our lines today. We had, I think, 98 shots and only three goals last week,” said Amerks head coach Seth Appert. “So, when you put that kind of shot volume up and pucks don't go in…I do believe that some lines can have a shelf life and they work really, really well and then they kind of peter out a little bit.”




Goaltender Malcolm Subban will once again be getting the start for Rochester, which is no surprise after the season he’s begun to string together.


After suffering a defeat in his season-debut on Nov. 18, Subban has gone 9-3-1 since, including seven straight wins between Dec. 10 to Jan. 14. The seven-game win streak was the longest of his pro career and the third-longest streak among all AHL goaltenders behind Toronto's Joseph Woll and Calgary's Dustin Wolf.


Subban was the first Amerks goaltender to post seven straight wins since Jonas Johansson won nine consecutive contests during the 2019-20 campaign, while also picking up his 100th career win over that same span on Dec. 28 when the Amerks took down the Utica Comets in a 5-4 overtime affair.





Amerks alternate captain Sean Malone returned to the lineup on Saturday against the Hartford Wolf Pack and immediately made an impact upon his return.


“To have Malone back is huge,” started Appert when asked about the return of the veteran forward. “We do have a younger group. Centers are hard to miss. When you have centers out of the lineup, that's challenging.”


On Saturday, Malone was centering a line with fellow veterans Anders Bjork and Michael Mersch. This morning, Appert indicated that lines would be switched up tonight, including Malone centering a different pair of wingers than he did in his return.



However, it doesn’t matter which line Malone is centering considering how happy Appert is to just have him back and healthy.


“He's our number one face-off guy. One of our best penalty killers. He’s one of our best offensive players. He's tenacious as a player. I think he's just tremendously underrated and I think he's a massive reason we've had the success we've had in the last two years,” finished Appert when discussing what Malone brings to the lineup.




Appert confirmed this morning that forward Vinnie Hinostroza will be in tonight’s lineup and centering the line of young forwards Jiri Kulich and Lukas Rousek.


“He's (Hinostroza) going to play center,” began Appert when asked if Hinostroza would be in the lineup tonight against the Penguins. “He’s comfortable playing at center. I talked to him about that, so he's going to play center between Kulich and Rousek.”


This will be Hinostroza’s first stint in the American Hockey League since the 2017-18 campaign when he compiled 22 points on nine goals and 13 assists in 23 games with the Rockford IceHogs.



Since the 2017-18 campaign, Hinostroza has gone on to spend ample time in the National Hockey League between the Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres. Over the last two seasons with Buffalo, the forward has compiled 33 points on 13 goals and 20 assists in 81 games.


Appert believes the line that Hinostroza will be centering has the chance to be a real threat towards opponents.


“This allows us to get Kulich back to the wing, which I think is a good thing for him. Vinnie's a play-driver. He plays with such passion and energy and competitiveness. He's a great forechecker. comes up with a lot of pucks. Then both Vinnie and Rousek are really, really talented playmakers.”


As tonight's matchup marks the first of two meetings between the two teams this season, it’s also the only contest in Rochester between the Amerks and Penguins. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.

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