Feb 21, 2024

1.pngBy Andrew Mossbrooks | @Mossbrooks48


The Rochester Americans (24-17-5-1) begin a two-game set at home against the Belleville Senators (23-20-2-3) Wednesday evening at Blue Cross Arena.




“They’re physical,” said Amerks head coach Seth Appert. “A lot of their defense core have spent significant time in the NHL or are going to be NHL players. They’ve got elite goaltending and a little more score by committee up front.”


Rochester is coming off winning three out of four games over a six-day stretch that culminated with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win against Toronto Monday afternoon. That same day, the Senators dropped a 4-2 decision against Hershey, though Belleville has won three of its last five games.





The Amerks will be two-thirds of the way through their regular season campaign following tonight’s game, which is the 48th of the season, yet it will be the first time all year that Rochester hosts Belleville.


“It is weird,” said forward Mason Jobst, who leads all Amerks with 17 points (7+10) over his last 18 games since the turn of the new year. “I feel like we just go in streaks of playing the same team over and over, but I personally kind of enjoy that. You get to know teams and how they play and their tendencies. With Belleville, you need to study a little bit more just like you would on a test. We’re just trying to hammer things down with them since we play them twice.”



Including tonight, the Amerks and Senators still have six games to be played in their season series. The only prior games came at the start of December in Belleville, where the two sides traded wins with the red, white, and blue coming out victorious in a 3-2 shootout on Dec. 1.




Following morning skate, Appert provided updates on both defenseman Riley Stillman along with all-star forward Jiri Kulich. While Kulich remains out day-to-day, Stillman will jump back into the lineup for the first time since sustaining an injury on Jan. 31.



“He’s one of, if not, our most physical defender,” said Appert when asked about Stillman’s presence. “To have a guy like him come back is huge for us.”



In 36 games with Rochester, Stillman has posted a goal and three assists. He is third among defensemen on the team with 45 penalty minutes.


“I mean it’s definitely exciting any time you get to come back from an injury,” said Stillman. “Every injury is different, and I’ve dealt with some in the past. I just try to make sure I take care of it and take care of my body. That’s what’s allowed me to get back as fast as I can.”




Goaltender Devon Levi will make his 11th start of the season for Rochester. This marks the seventh time in the last eight games for the Amerks that Levi will take to the crease.


“Sometimes it’s easier at that age from a workload perspective,” said Appert. “I think this is just part of the development process. It’s important to learn how to handle that volume of games. He’s had plenty of rest along the way as well. This is just a great challenge for him.”



“He’s a fantastic goaltender,” said Stillman. “He’s coming. He’s going to be special. He works really hard and he’s really detailed. He’s going to have a very successful career.”


“He was outstanding on Monday,” said Jobst. “He’s so dialed in every single day. He’s got his little goalie things that I try to stay out of the way of and let him stay focused.”


The 22-year-old is coming off an early career-high performance from his Monday outing against the Marlies, where Levi stopped 52 shots. Over his last three games, the Sabres prospect has gone 3-0 while making 130 saves along the way.



“He’s an elite goaltender,” said Appert. “It’s just a matter of time for him to get back there (the NHL), but almost all prospects and goaltenders need to go through what he’s gone through. It’s just really healthy for players to play in the American League and go through the grind of it with the burden of expectations. For Devon, these are great experiences, and what I’ve really loved about him is that he’s embraced being an Amerk. He’s having a blast and he’s enjoying being here and enjoying playing here. When you can really be where your feet are you have a chance to do some great things.”

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