AMERKS WEEK 5 ROUND-UP: KISAKOV BEGINNING TO FLOURISH, TOUGH GO FOR GOALIESNov 16, 2022
By Suzie Cool
The week ahead for the Rochester Americans proves to be a little less chaotic than the last…at least we hope.
Last week, the Amerks were once again faced with three-in-four action, with the curveball of three different opponents thrown into the equation. Though Rochester took away four points on the week, going 1-0-1-1 against the Syracuse Crunch, Cleveland Monsters and Belleville Senators, the week started with forward Aleksandr Kisakov returning to the lineup and ended with perhaps one of the most interesting goaltending situations we’ll see all season.
According to Amerks head coach Seth Appert, there’s no way to plan for a weekend like last but the team most certainly made the most with what they were working with.
Here’s a look at some of Appert’s takeaways from the Amerks fifth week of play in the 2022-23 campaign.
ON CEDERQVIST’S LEARNING CURVE
“The penalty is certainly a reason that we only got one point, probably, instead of two, but he (Cederqvist) knows that. I mean, that's not even a situation that you have to really dramatically address as a coach. He knows that's a mistake,” stated Appert when asked what lessons can be learned from rookie forward Filip Cederqvist’s late slashing penalty against the Monsters on Friday night.
The thing is, Cederqvist was having a breakout game and on the brink of being the night’s first star. The rookie forward tallied his first and second AHL goals, along with adding an assist on what would’ve been the game-winner if it weren’t for the costly penalty with just 2:08 remaining in regulation.
“What I told him on the bus right after the game is to learn the lesson from that, but don't let it deter you from the confidence game or from the way you played in that game,” continued Appert when discussing Cederqvist’s outstanding play from the weekend. “Part of the reason he took that penalty was that he was the most physically engaged, the nastiest that he's played and sometimes there's a line with all young players when you're trying to get them to play the style that they need to play to be effective. There’re times they're going to lose the line or they're going to cross the line.”
Cedervist continued to toe the line the very next night as the team had a quick turnaround in Bellville. While the rookie went on to post his fifth assist of the season, he’s now registered seven points through his first 13 games in the AHL while continuing to provide a sturdy and physical presence with his 6-foot-3 build.
“If I scream and yell at them every time they make a mistake for crossing the line, they're never going to get close to the line again. So, I try to not do that as much as I can. I thought that was his best game (Friday against Cleveland) in the American League, and he followed it up with another fantastic performance in Belleville,” finished Appert.
ON KISAKOV’S OFFENSE FLOURISHING
Another rookie that began to make his mark this weekend was Kisakov, someone that Appert and staff knew was on cusp of finding the scoresheet sooner rather than later.
“We saw it in ‘Kisa’ before the injury…he was starting to come, and you felt it was just a matter of time because he's creating scoring chances every game. So, it doesn't surprise me,” said Appert when discussing Kisakov’s flourishing offense.
Over the weekend’s efforts, Kisakov posted three points and had goals in back-to-back games. On Friday, he tallied his first goal in the AHL before roofing a shot to give Rochester a 2-1 lead in the second frame of Saturday’s contest in Belleville.
Two impressive performances for the rookie who just came back from injury that very same week.
“It's a real credit to him to come back from injury and to jump right back in where he left off,” said Appert. “These are physical games. The North Division is not easy, and the Syracuse game was physical, and the Bellville game was physical, and the Cleveland game was physical. He’s only 157 pounds right now, so I’m really impressed at his willingness and ability to get to the inside.”
ON THE WEEKEND’S UNEXPECTED GOALTENDING SITUATION
Prior to Friday’s game against the Monsters, both Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Malcolm Subban fell ill to the flu. Then, Michael Houser began to develop similar symptoms midgame, meaning Beck Warm would have to step in following a seven-hour drive from Cincinnati.
So, as a head coach in the AHL, how in the world do you plan for a game less than 24 hours after the 6-5 overtime loss?
“You don’t,” explained Appert when asked how he made a goaltending game plan heading into Saturday’s game against Belleville.
Appert then continued with, “That was wild to lose three goalies in 15 hours or whatever it was and credit to Beck Warm. We got a hold of Beck after morning skate and he had a seven-hour drive because there were no flights that would get him here in time and he rolled in at 7:01 and jumped on the bench. It's a really tough way to go in your first game but then what a response by Beck on Saturday – he was outstanding.”
Warm went on to start in Saturday’s game against the Senators, making 32 saves on the 34 shots he faced in the shootout effort. Not bad for the quick turnaround, considering the measures it took for him to get to Rochester.
On top of that, the Amerks need a capable netminder to back-up Warm in Belleville, so the team turned to local product Leif Hertz of Ontario Tech University.
“Seamus (Kotyk), our goaltending development coach and scout, does a great job. He really helped out by finding Leif Hertz, a Canadian university goaltender, so we could have a capable backup,” said Appert.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THIS WEEK
For the second time this month, the Amerks will host the intrastate rival Utica Comets in the front-end of a home-and-home series beginning on Friday, Nov. 18 at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.