GAME PREVIEW: AMERKS HOST ROCKET AGAIN TONIGHT AT BLUE CROSS ARENAJan 18, 2023
TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Americans (19-12-1-1) and Laval Rocket (14-18-4-1) clash for the second time in a week tonight in a North Division showdown 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.
Tonight's matchup is the fourth between the two teams this season and the second in Rochester after the Amerks took a 3-1 victory last Wednesday night. Following tonight's contest, the North Division rivals will meet three more times over the second half of the season with another get-together slated for Friday, Feb. 24 at The Blue Cross Arena.
HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES SNAPSHOT
After the Amerks claimed the first three meetings in 2021-22, the Rocket have responded with points in six of the previous eight meetings between the two teams, posting a 5-2-1-0 record over that span.
The teams split a two-game set earlier this season in Laval which saw the Amerks rebound with a 5-1 win on Oct. 29 on the strength of a three-goal first period after dropping an 8-1 decision the night before. Brandon Biro and Jiri Kulich each have three points (1+2) against the Rocket this season.
Rochester boasts an 19-7-1-0 record all-time against the Rocket, which includes a near-perfect 9-2-0-0 mark at home dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite three-point efforts from Mason Jobst (3+0), Michael Mersch (0+3) and Anders Bjork (0+3), the Amerks allowed three goals in the final four minutes, including the go-ahead goal in the closing seconds of regulation, in a heartbreaking 7-5 loss to the Toronto Marlies Saturday on home ice.
Defensemen Jeremy Davies (1+1) and Lawrence Pilut (0+2) both notched two points while Jiri Kulich (1+0) and Linus Weissbach (0+1) added one to complete the scoring.
Goaltender Malcolm Subban (9-3-0) saw his career-long seven-game win streak halted as he suffered his first defeat since Dec. 7.
SUBBAN SURGING INTO THE YEW YEAR
After suffering a defeat in his season-debut on Nov. 18, Subban has gone 9-2-0 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.
He's was the first Amerks goaltender to post seven straight wins since Jonas Johansson won nine consecutive contests during the 2019-20 campaign.
Subban had arguably his best performance of the season during a 75-save weekend in Rochester’s two-game sweep over the Charlotte Checkers in mid-December. A night after stopping a regular-season career-high 45 saves, Subban was flawless in a 30-save shutout on Dec. 17, his first in the AHL since April 8, 2017, with the Providence Bruins.
Subban, who picked up his 100th career win in the 5-4 overtime victory over Utica on Dec. 28, has topped the 40-save mark three times in his last seven starts and is currently tied for 15th amongst all netminders with nine wins.
WELL BALANCED OFFENSE
With six goals in his last 12 games, Lukas Rousek enters the week third on the team with 25 points (10+15) while being one of four Amerks to appear in all 33 games. He accounted for half of his nine goals in December and recently saw a career-best six-game point streak (3+4) come to an end on Jan. 7.
With 15 points (7+8) over his last 18 games, including seven in the last seven games (3+4), Linus Weissbach is three points back from the team-lead with 26 points (13+13) through 33 games. He remains on pace to match his career-high of 16 goals from last season and has already established a new personal-best of four game-winning goals.
Brett Murray, one of four Amerks with at least 24 points on the season, is also on pace to surpass the career-high 15 goals he scored in 2021-22 after recording his then team-leading 13th of the season on Jan. 7 against Syracuse, which also served as his 100th career point as an Amerk. The fourth-year pro comes into tonight with 10 points (5+5) in his last 12 games and eight goals over his last 17 dating back to a two-goal effort against Providence on Nov. 23.
Michael Mersch has been the team's most consistent point-getter as of late with 11 points (6+5) over his last eight games, vaulting the Amerks captain to fifth on the team in scoring. With the exception of the abbreviated 2020-2 season, Mersch has reached the 20-point mark in all eight full seasons of his professional career. Last Saturday's three-assist game versus Toronto marked his second of his career and first since March 8, 2015.
BIRO PILING UP HE POINTS
Despite missing six games due to injury, Biro has blazed his way atop the team's scoring lead following a productive December in which he led the team with 16 points (6+10) in 10 games. He recorded multi-point efforts in seven of his 10 appearances, including six straight between Dec. 9 and Dec. 30 before closing out the month with an assist in the 3-2 win in Toronto.
Named to the roster for the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic, Biro currently paces the Amerks in assists (20) and points (29) through 27 games and his recent seven-game point streak to close out the 2022 calendar year was the longest of his career.
Dating back to last season, Biro has totaled 70 points on 21 goals and 49 assists over his last 75 games and hasn't gone more than two games without a point since Nov. 27, 2021. Since the start of the 2022 calendar year, Biro has posted 19 multi-point outings in 55 games, totaling 58 points (18+40).
PROWESS ON THE BLUELINE
Ethan Prow is the only Amerks defenseman to appear in all 33 games this season and has skated in 103 of the 109 games dating back to the start of the 2021-22 campaign.
By being held without a point for just the second time since Christmas, Prow saw his four-game point streak (2+3) halted. The seventh-year veteran has posted seven points (2+5) in his last eight outings dating back to Dec. 28.
Through 33 games this season, Prow is tied for 21st in scoring amongst all AHL defensemen. His 15 assists are 24th in the league. He is five assists away from notching his fourth consecutive season with 20 or more assists and needs one more point to reach the 20-point mark for the fifth straight year dating back to the 2018-19 campaign.
So far this season, the Amerks have used 13 different defensemen, which is third-most in the AHL. Twelve of the 13 have recorded at least one point while seven have scored.
Laval's goaltending duo of Kevin Poulin and Cayden Primeau have a combined 8-8-1 record in 17 career games against Rochester. Michael Houser (1-0-0) has faced Laval twice during the regular season and appeared in two games during last year's playoff run. Last Wednesday's matchup between the two teams marked the first time Malcolm Subban appeared opposite Laval.
Laval forward Anthony Richard has a team-best 18 goals and 35 points in 30 games. Earlier this season, he posted the second-longest goal-scoring streak in the AHL and his eight-game point streak was tied for the eighth-longest. He has three three-assist games over his last nine outings.
Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau, who is currently on recall with Montreal, is the nephew of former Amerk Wayne Primeau, a member of the 1996 Calder Cup-winning team.