GAMEDAY NOTES AND QUOTES: ‘PLAYOFF-TYPE’ GAME EXPECTED AGAINST CHARLOTTE
Cederqvist returns to the lineup, Tokarski earns the start against his former teamDec 8, 2023
By Andrew Mossbrooks | @Mossbrooks48
The Rochester Americans (11-6-2-0) return home for a one-off game this week against the Charlotte Checkers (10-9-0-0) Friday night at Blue Cross Arena.
Charlotte enters Friday having dropped three straight and five of its last six games. The team has struggled and found themselves sitting outside of playoff positioning, but Amerks head coach Seth Appert isn’t reading into that storyline.
“I usually look at it the other way,” said Appert when asked if the Checkers’ recent struggles present an opportunity for the Amerks tonight. “When a good team hasn’t won, they’re probably going to be great against you. I’m expecting a playoff-type atmosphere tonight. We lost our last game, so we should be a little ornery. They lost their last two against Hershey and they outplayed Hershey both nights. When you look at small windows of games, your record can be an anomaly. The games I’ve watched on pre-scout, they’ve completely outplayed the opponent every game. They’re an extremely high-pressure team that’s very good on the forecheck and consistently outshoot their opponents. They’ve fell on the wrong side of some scores, but we’re going to face a really good opponent tonight.”
Forward Filip Cederqvist returns to Rochester’s lineup after missing four weeks of action due to injury. The second year Amerk posted nine goals and 20 points last season. Cederqvist has three assists in 11 games to start this year. Friday will be his first game since Nov. 10.
“That’s great to get him back,” said Appert. “He’s a different element. The more big, power-forward guys you have in your lineup, the better. To add another guy with (Michael) Mersch and (Brett) Murray that have that power-forward, high-skilled mindset is beneficial, especially against a heavy team like Charlotte.”
“It’s going to be fun for sure,” said Cederqvist. “It was a long month for me and it’s going to be great to be back. It was great to have support from my family and girlfriend while out and the medical staff is great.”
Cederqvist was skating with Brandon Biro and Linus Weissbach during practice, so that trio could be a line for tonight’s game. Cederqvist was a 2019 fifth-round draft selection for the Sabres. The Skara, Sweden, native cited how playing with not only Biro, but being teammates with players like Jiri Kulich and fellow Swedish born forward-Isak Rosen keeps him motivated at the prospect of making it to the NHL.
“It’s a dream to get to the NHL. It’s nice to see through those players that it can happen pretty fast. I was in Buffalo to watch the game against Nashville where ‘Beersy’ (Biro) played. ‘Apps’ (Appert) talks about the culture that is here in Rochester. It’s a great place to be and you’re allowed to dream big. It’s really fun to see your friends succeed and hopefully I’m next.”
JANDRIC SEIZING THE MOMENT
Rookie defenseman Chris Jandric will appear in his sixth game of the season with the Amerks tonight, matching his total games played for the season in the ECHL. The University of North Dakota product signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Amerks over the summer after joining the team straight out of college last season.
With Appert confirming long-term injuries to defensemen Ethan Prow and Zach Metsa, the door is wide open for Jandric to step in and step up.
“This is a great opportunity for Jandric,” said Appert. “He’s a really good teammate and hard worker. He fell into a numbers situation where he had to start the year in Jacksonville, and he went down there with a great attitude and played well to find his way back here. These are key opportunities. You want to seize these as a player. We signed him for a reason. He had a good career in college at both Alaska and North Dakota. He has the ability with the puck in the offensive zone and now he’s starting to adjust to the speed, size, and physicality that you have to play defense with at this level. I’m excited for him because he’s earned this opportunity.”
“It’s a next man up mentality,” said Jandric. “It’s a long season and players get hurt, so I think you have to make the most of the opportunity. I played simple (Saturday) and am trying to get used to the league a little bit more and get more confident with the puck. I want to be a 200-foot player. I’m trying to use my feet more to shut down plays and trying to focus on transitioning quick to move the puck up into the forwards’ hands as much as possible.”
Dustin Tokarski will get his eighth start of the season and do so against the team he won his second Calder Cup with. The 15-year pro was dealt to Charlotte at the backend of the 2018-19 season, where he played in seven regular season contests before seeing five more games in the playoffs on his way to lifting a championship above his head.
“He just drips of winning,” said Appert. “I probably can’t say enough good things about Dustin Tokarski. To have some guys like him around is extremely valuable for us.”
Both Tokarski and Devin Cooley took a backseat last weekend when Devon Levi started both games for the Amerks in Belleville, but for as good as they are players, Appert says they are just as great of teammates.
“Levi’s a great kid with a great attitude, but there’s a lot of media and fanfare that comes with that and they saw that and handled it amazing. They had a great work ethic and attitude last week; completely supportive of their teammates.”
“I thought that picture of Devon (Levi) with the eagle head said a lot. Number one: Cooley gave him that because Cooley had it from our last win, so that says a lot about Devin Cooley, and Ticker (Tokarski) is in the picture just beaming and smiling at him and enjoying the moment with him. It says a lot about our locker room and even more so about what Dustin Tokarski and Devin Cooley are made of.”