AMERKS YOUTH OVERCOMING GROWING PAINS DURING PRESEASONOct 10, 2022
By Suzie Cool
From a fan standpoint, this past weekend’s two preseason games for the Rochester Americans didn’t go all that well. But if you ask Amerks head coach Seth Appert, he’d tell you the weekend went exactly as planned.
“We have a really young forward group an NHL preseason games don't simulate how hard the American League is. NHL preseason games are usually a little more controlled, the American League is a little more chaotic – it’s faster, it's more physical a lot of nights,” explained Appert following Rochester’s preseason finale Sunday night against the Utica Comets.
In an essence, the preseason went how Appert kind of expected it to. It wasn’t the best showing from the Amerks, who were outscored 9-3 and were outshot 33-15 in last night’s loss to the Comets, including 15-0 in the first period.
The reason why it was expected? Simple, really. Seven rookie forwards were getting their first look at what it’s like to take in the American Hockey League: Josh Passolt, Isak Rosen, Jiri Kulich, Filip Cederqvist, Aleksandr Kisakov, Tyson Kozak and Kohen Olischefski.
“We had seven, I think, seven rookie forwards in the lineup tonight. So, these are their first American League games. Utica had a good lineup. Utica played well. They're a good team, they play hard and they're in your face. That's their style and it was overwhelming in the first period.”
In the first frame of Sunday’s game, Rochester went without registering a shot while Utica piled on three goals. Appert knew the first period was “terrible,” however, he liked the response the players showed in the second while beginning to move the pace a little bit against a team that last season won its first 13 straight games and is going to grind you down the second you show any weakness.
“This is why you have an exhibition game. This is why you put these guys in these moments. As I've said a lot already, we're going to have a lot of growing pains early, but failure and adversity leads to growth if you are willing to learn from it.”
Despite the losses over the weekend, they were just preseason, and the real action doesn’t start until this weekend. The good thing is the Amerks have a couple more practices prior to Opening Night on Friday against the Toronto Marlies and Appert and his staff plan on going over ample video to try and help teach the newcomers just what it will take to be in this league before puck drop.
Although, we all know that will take a little time when we’ve had the prime examples of forwards JJ Peterka and Jack Quinn the last two seasons.
“We're going to have to do a lot of teaching with these with young players early, just like we did with our young forwards the last two years.”
Appert then finished with, “I've said it before. Everybody looks at the end product of Quinn and Peterka in the American League last year, but they don't remember the adversity they faced a long way and I keep reminding these young guys of that because there's going to be a lot of adversity before there's success.”
If we know anything from the last two years in the Flower City, the benefits from a little patience with the young prospects will eventually garner much reward. So, patience is key and there’s a lot to look forward going into the Amerks 2022-23 campaign if the past two seasons are any indication of what’s to come.
Rochester opens its 67th American Hockey League season – and 41st as the primary affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres – on Friday, Oct. 14 at The Blue Cross Arena against Toronto at 7:05 p.m. Amerks Season Ticket Memberships for the 2022-23 season are on sale now. Season Ticket Memberships start as low as $15 per game and come with a number of Members-only perks and benefits. Full Season, Half Season and Quarter Season Membership options are all available. For more information on Amerks Season Tickets or to sign up today, visit www.amerks.com/memberships.