GAME PREVIEW: AMERKS HOST CRUNCH TONIGHT IN 2021-22 HOME OPENEROct 21, 2021
TONGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
After opening their 66th American Hockey League season on the road, the Rochester Americans return to home ice tonight as they host the intrastate rival Syracuse Crunch in their 2021-22 Home Opener at Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
|TONIGHT'S ROSTERS||LINE CHARTS|
The Amerks and Crunch will meet a total of 12 times during the 2021-22 campaign, the most against a single opponent this season, with tonight’s matchup representing the first of six in Rochester. Additionally, tonight’s game is the first that will be played in front of fans since March 11, 2020. The teams are idle until the Amerks make their first trip to Syracuse on Nov. 27.
WATCH: FACE-OFF FIRST LOOK
HEAD-TO-HEAD RESULTS AGAINST SYRACUSE
The Crunch in 2020-21, Rochester finished the head-to-head set with a 5-5-2-0 record in 12 games.
The Amerks scored at least one power-play goal in 18 of their 29 games last season. Rochester registered multiple power-play tallies in four overall, including a season-high three against Syracuse on April 3 and on April 23 against Utica.
The Amerks have scored a power-play goal in 13 of their last 21 games against Syracuse dating back to last season, going 21-for-75 (28.0%) with the man-advantage over that span.
Rochester has collected at least one point in 21 of the last 33 games against Syracuse dating back to the start of the 2018-19 campaign, going 17-12-3-1. While the Crunch have outscored the Amerks 114-110 during that same stretch, Rochester has gone 29-for-119 (24.4%) on the power-play.
Tonight’s contest is the seventh time the Crunch have served as Rochester’s home-opening opponent, including three times in the last five years. The Amerks are 5-1-0-0 all-time in home openers against the Crunch while Syracuse’s lone win in that span was back in 2008.
OPENING THE SEASON
Rochester’s 6-2 season-opening loss this past Sunday in Utica marked the first time in a decade the Amerks opened the season on the road since a 5-2 loss at Hamilton to begin the 2011-12 campaign. It was also the first time Rochester began the season on a Sunday since Oct. 12, 1969, which resulted in a 2-2 tie against Montreal.
With the loss, the Amerks fell to 33-26-7 all-time in season-opening games and have outscored the opposition 244-228 dating back to when the puck first dropped on Rochester’s inaugural season in 1956.
Rochester scored twice in the opening frame on the strength of goals from Jack Quinn and Casey Fitzgerald, while Sean Malone (0+2) registered his first multi-point outing of the season with two assists. Defensemen Oskari Laaksonen and Brandon Davidson both chipped in an assist in the defeat. Jimmy Schuldt, Ethan Prow, Linus Weissbach, Lukas Craggs, Josh Teves, Ryan MacInnis and JJ Peterka all made their Amerks debuts.
Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen earned the start in the net and made 18 saves but suffered the loss.
WATCH: SETH APPERT AFTER MORNING SKATE
APPERT YEAR TWO
Seth Appert is in his second season as head coach of the Amerks in 2021-22 after being named to the position on August 18, 2020.
In his first campaign behind the Amerks bench, he guided the team to an 11-15-2-1 record over a condensed 29-game season in 2020-21. Despite the shortened season, however, player development was still very much a priority for Appert and his staff as evidenced by more than a dozen players earning recalls to the parent Buffalo Sabres, including Appert himself at one point. Excluding Andrew Oglevie and Casey Fitzgerald, who were recalled to the team’s taxi squad but never saw any game action, nine made their Sabres debuts and five made their National Hockey League debuts.
Rochester also had five different goaltenders dress during the 2020-21 season, the most since the club used seven in 2014-15. All three goaltenders to play with both Rochester and Buffalo earned a win with each club, with both Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Michael Houser picking up their first NHL victories, respectively.
PECA RETURNS TO SABRES ORGANIZATION
Michael Peca enters his first season as an assistant coach with the Amerks after being named to the position on August 3, 2021.
As a player, Peca’s professional playing career spanned 14 seasons and 864 games in the National Hockey League with the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets. A four-time 20-goal scorer, he recorded 465 points (176+289) and added 34 points (15+19) in 97 playoff contests while twice guiding his team to the Stanley Cup Final, including in 1999 as captain of the Sabres.
The Toronto, Ontario, native is also a two-time winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given annually “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” He was first awarded the honor following the 1996-97 season, becoming the first Sabres forward since Craig Ramsay in 1984-85 to win the award. He was the recipient again just five years later in 2001-02 as a member of the Islanders.
Last week, the Buffalo Sabres assigned rookie forward JJ Peterka to begin the season in Rochester. The 19-year-old winger tallied three goals and one assist during five preseason games with the Sabres before being loaned to the Amerks.
The addition of Peterka, who posted 20 points (9+11) in 30 games with Munich of the DEL, gives the Amerks Buffalo’s top two picks from the 2020 NHL Draft to begin the season with the other being Jack Quinn.
Quinn, Buffalo’s eighth overall pick in 2020, had nine points (2+7) in 15 games with Rochester last season. The highly touted 20-year-old is coming off an explosive 52-goal season for the Ottawa 67’s in 2019-20, during which he became just the eighth player since 2000-01 to reach the 50-goal mark in his NHL Draft Year. He finished the season second in the Ontario Hockey League in goals and tied for fifth with 15 power-play tallies while also adding 37 assists. Quinn is the third eighth overall pick of the Sabres in the last five years to spend time in Rochester, joining Alexander Nylander (2016) and Casey Mittelstadt (2017), and the second to make his pro debut with the Amerks following Nylander.
Crunch forward Jimmy Huntington was named the AHL Player of the Week after scoring four goals in two games. He recorded a natural hat trick, the AHL’s first hat trick of the season, to rally the Crunch back from a 3-0 deficit Saturday night. He leads the league in goals and is tied for third in points.
Crunch defenseman Ryan Jones spent the 2020-21 campaign with the Amerks, recording seven points (1+6) while being the lone skater to appear in all 29 games last season. Jones scored his first pro goal in Rochester’s 3-2 win over Syracuse on Feb. 20, 2021. He currently has one assist in two games with the Crunch.
Syracuse Crunch vs Rochester Americans: Head To Head Stats
|Head to Head Record 2021-22 Regular Season||Syracuse 0-0-0-0||Rochester 0-0-0-0|
|Head to Head Record 2020-21 Regular Season||Syracuse 7-4-1-0||Rochester 5-5-2-0|
|Last 5 Years record between teams||Syracuse 22-13-5-3||Rochester 21-17-4-1|
|Syracuse vs. Rochester Last 5 Years record at Syracuse||Syracuse 9-9-2-2||Rochester 13-7-2-0|
|Syracuse vs. Rochester Last 5 Years record at Rochester||Syracuse 13-4-3-1||Rochester 8-10-2-1|
How the teams match up
|Team Record||0-1-0-0 -- 0 points||1-0-1-0 -- 3 points|
|Division Ranking||7th North||2nd North|
|Conference Ranking||15th Eastern||4th Eastern|
|Past 10 Games||0-1-0-0||1-0-1-0|
|Last Game||6-2 L @ Utica (Oct 17 2021) Final||5-4 L @ Cleveland (Oct 16 2021) Final OT|
|PP (Overall)||(0/5) 0.0%||(2/6) 33.3%|
|PP (Home)||(0/0) %||(0/0) %|
|PP (Away)||(0/5) 0.0%||(2/6) 33.3%|
|PK (Overall)||(1/3) 66.7%||(1/9) 88.9%|
|PK (Home)||(0/0) %||(0/0) %|
|PK (Away)||(1/3) 66.7%||(1/9) 88.9%|
|PP vs. Opp.||(0/0) 0%||(0/0) 0%|
|PK vs. Opp.||(0/0) 0%||(0/0) 0%|
|Leading Rookie||Quinn (1-0-1)||Cajkovic (1-1-2)|
|Most PIM||Davidson - 5||Dumont - 21|
|Leading Scorers||Malone (0-2-2)||Huntington (4-0-4)|
|Fitzgerald (1-0-1)||Dumont (1-2-3)|
|Quinn (1-0-1)||Morand (0-3-3)|
|Davidson (0-1-1)||Cajkovic (1-1-2)|
|Laaksonen (0-1-1)||Day (1-1-2)|
|Last 5 Games||6-2 L @ Utica (Oct 17 2021) Final||5-4 L @ Cleveland (Oct 16 2021) Final OT|
|6-4 W @ Cleveland (Oct 15 2021) Final|
|Leading After 1st||0-0-0-0||0-0-0-0|
|Leading After 2nd||0-0-0-0||1-0-0-0|
|Tied After 1st||0-0-0-0||1-0-0-0|
|Tied After 2nd||0-0-0-0||0-0-0-0|
|Trailing After 1st||0-1-0-0||0-0-1-0|
|Trailing After 2nd||0-1-0-0||0-0-1-0|
|Out Shooting Opponents||0-1-0-0||0-0-1-0|
|Out Shot by Opponents||0-0-0-0||1-0-0-0|