GAMEDAY NOTES & QUOTES: CONFERENCE FINALS | GAME 2May 25, 2023
The Rochester Americans faceoff against the Hershey Bears in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night at the Giant Center. The Amerks lead the best-of-seven series 1-0 after a 5-1 win on Tuesday night, and are expecting the Bears to hit back.
“When any team of the caliber that they are loses a game in the playoffs, they’re going to come out extremely hard the next game,” Amerks head coach Seth Appert said this morning. He added: “I’m not worried about it.”
“We’re a team that doesn’t back down. We’re not the biggest, most physical team, but we don’t back down a lick.”
On Tuesday night, Joseph Cecconi scored for the Amerks just 14 seconds into the game. Rochester never looked back, adding four more goals in the contest — each from a different goal-scorer.
The Amerks played a traditional lineup of 12 forwards and 6 defensemen with the return of Linus Weissbach to the lineup.
SAVOIE MAKES AHL DEBUT
Matthew Savoie, the Buffalo Sabres’ ninth-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, will make his AHL debut tonight. He joined the team in Rochester on Sunday and has spent the last few days getting acclimated with the team.
“He’s pumped,” Appert said. “He’s such tremendous competitor. It’s the thing that just jumped off the page at Dev Camp and Rookie Camp: his pace and his natural competitiveness.”
Savoie’s natural position is at center, but he’s comfortable playing on the wing as well. Appert said that they’ve discussed using him in both spots tonight. His versatility will be another advantage for the Amerks tonight.
“We’re a team that wants to play fast, and he’s a player that can do that in spades. So we’ve become a faster, more versatile team, and we’ve added another competitor to the lineup.”
Appert thinks it could also make match-ups harder on Hershey, depending on where he’s slotted in the lineup. He has experience playing with fellow rookies, like Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen, from Prospects Challenge last fall.
“I think there’s a little bit of familiarity there with the guys, spending time with them and playing with them at the Rookie Camp,” Savoie said this morning. “It’s still pretty new, but getting as comfortable as quick as possible is definitely my goal here.”
Savoie joined the Rochester squad after the conclusion of the WHL playoffs, where his Winnipeg Ice team lost in the Finals. He’ll use that experience to his advantage tonight: “I think playoff hockey is a different beast, no matter what league it is. You definitely saw how much more physical it got, how much quicker it got, how every play mattered.”
Toinight is the 500th all-time match-up between the Rochester Americans and Hershey Bears.
Over the seven-game win streak, the Amerks have outscored their opponents 41-21, including 12-3 in the first period.
Mason Jobst leads all Rochester skates with 12 points (3+9) in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Jiri Kulich currently leads all AHL rookies with six goals in his seven postseason appearances. His 10 points ranks him third on the rookie scoring chart.
Ethan Prow is riding an AHL-best six-game assist streak.
ABOUT THE OPPOSITION
The Hershey Bears finished second in the Eastern Conference with 97 points, and swept the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Atlantic Division Finals.
Veteran forward Joe Snively leads the Bears with 8 points in 8 postseason games so far, followed by Aliaksei Protas and Sam Anas with seven points each. The highest-scoring rookie for the Hershey squad is Hendrix Lapierre, the 22nd overall pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2020 NHL Draft, who has tallied two goals and two assists.
Netminder Hunter Shepard has started each postseason game for the Bears, but Zach Fucale took over at 6:33 in the second period in Game 1 against the Amerks.
Hershey plays a fast but physical game, and while Appert expects them to be at their best tonight, that’s not the focus. “You need to be prepared for your opponents; that’s important. But we don’t spend massive amounts of time worrying about our opponent,” he said.
“It’s important to understand the mental frame of mind that your opponent is in.”
The Bears should be hungry for a Game 2 win in front of their home crowd tonight. Fans can stream tonight’s game on AHLTV, listen on The Fan Rochester with Don Stevens and Brian Duff, or watch the WPMT Fox43’s live broadcast on MSG Network across New York state.
Saturday’s Game 3 in Rochester is sold out, but tickets for Game 4 on Monday at Blue Cross Arena are still available.