Feb 23, 2024

1.pngBy Andrew Mossbrooks | @Mossbrooks48


With what will be their sixth game in 10 days, the Rochester Americans (24-18-5-1) look to honor new Amerks Hall of Famer Rory Fitzpatrick and get payback on the Belleville Senators (24-20-2-3) Friday night at Blue Cross Arena.


“We need to get more shots through from our defense,” said Amerks head coach Seth Appert. “On Wednesday we got too many shots blocked or they didn’t deliver the puck enough sometimes. Our forwards need to fight through their defense to get to the net for screens, tips, and rebounds. It was a playoff game. There was no space out there. If that’s the case, you got to score dirty goals. They found a way to do that and we didn’t.”





The Rochester Americans are one of the longest tenured teams in all of North American professional hockey. Tonight, Fitzpatrick becomes the 68th member of the Amerks Hall of Fame, and it’s an achievement not lost on the team of the modern era.


“It’s a great accomplishment for Rory,” said Amerks captain Michael Mersch. “I’m sure he’s really looking forward to tonight and we are as well. This team has a lot of history and he’s a big part of that. When you have a person who grew up a fan of Rochester and then grow up and play here is pretty unique. I’m really looking forward to see him get honored tonight.”



“It’s a cool night,” said Appert. “Rory’s going to speak to the team before the game. Nobody probably knows more than him what wearing that jersey means. He’s from Rochester, then he played here and became a Hall of Famer. He has a perspective that’s extremely unique. The American League is interesting in that almost everybody is trying to go somewhere else. The more you can make putting that jersey on feel special and take a lot of pride in putting it on. This is a great opportunity to bring somebody in with a unique perspective like Rory to share what it means to put on that jersey.




New York native and Amerks defenseman Joseph Cecconi has been playing some of the best hockey of his pro career of late. The sixth-year pro has seven points (1+6) in 38 games, with five coming since the turn of the new year.


“He’s been really good the last month or so,” said Appert. “I think his play has took a jump to more of what we saw from him in the playoffs. He’s big, he’s long, he’s physically engaged. These are hard games and his presence helps.”



“I played with him for the Texas Stars when he was a rookie coming out of the University of Michigan,” said Mersch. “To see where he’s at now compared to then is night and day. That’s a credit to him buying in and taking ownership in his own game. I’m really happy for him because he’s a good teammate.”


“I’m pretty comfortable saying my game has been getting better and better in 10-game segments,” said Cecconi. “I just want to continue that the rest of the year. I’ve been focusing on taking care of my body a lot more. Sleeping better, eating better, and taking care of my body in the gym are all little things that have stacked up and contributed to my on-ice performance. In the past four or five years I’ve been learning from guys like ‘Merschy’ and the coaching staffs I’ve been around about what it means to be a pro hockey player. I know what I need to do now to play at my best. Every team needs role players and come down the line in playoffs those are the kinds of players that help you win games.”





Dustin Tokarski is slated to make his fourth start of 2024 and his 18th appearance of the season for Rochester, as he draws the call to the crease against Belleville.


“It’s not an ideal situation for Ticker (Tokarski) or Cooley,” said Appert. “That’s part of life in the American Hockey League. Prospects need to play and need to develop and, in this situation, Devon Levi needs the net a lot. You can’t focus on the things you can’t control. He can’t control the situation, but what’s in his control is his process, how he practices, and his attitude that he takes towards it. You have to hope that’s enough for when you get out there for the games.”



Tokarski shows a 7-7-2 record this season with a 3.48 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage. Tonight is Tokarski’s first start at home since Dec. 27.


“He’s played a long time and he’s won a ton. He gets things. Doesn’t mean you like those things, but he understands the situation. I think he’s handled it as good as you can expect him to handle it.”

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