INTRODUCING THE 2023-24 AMERKS LEADERSHIP GROUPOct 11, 2023
By Andrew Mossbrooks | @Mossbrooks48
Earlier today, Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert unveiled his leadership group for the upcoming season, naming veteran forward Michael Mersch team captain with Brandon Biro, Brett Murray, and Ethan Prow as assistants for Rochester’s 68th American Hockey League campaign.
“I want my captain to be themselves. I don’t think there’s a book that says ‘the captain has to do this’. At the end of the day, a captain has to be team first. They want success for their teammates and the team as a whole, and they live the standard on a daily basis. The work ethic, the identity, and the way we want to go about our business; they need to live that,” said Appert following the announcement Wednesday morning.
Mersch, 31, enters his third season wearing the “C” on his jersey in Rochester. The 10th-year pro recorded 17 goals and 45 points in 61 regular season games with the Amerks a season ago and has led the team to the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of his first two seasons as captain, including last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“To have Michael Mersch back as our captain is such a great opportunity. He takes care of so much. He lives and acts the way we want our team to act. As a head coach, you put your head on the pillow at the end of night feeling really good about your team because he’s your captain,” said Appert.
Like Mersch, Prow will also return as a letter-wearing Amerk, entering his third season as an assistant captain on Rochester’s blueline. The 30-year-old veteran has skated in 357 AHL games, registering 206 points (48+158) along the way. Prow was an All-Star in 2019 with Springfield, then brought his assets to Rochester for the 2021-22 season after spending a year overseas. He’s accumulated 90 points over two seasons with the Amerks and finished the 2022-23 campaign in the top-20 for scoring by an AHL defenseman and 13th in assists (35).
“We got a good thing going here,” said Prow after Wednesday’s practice. “It starts from the top with our staff and trickles down to the players and the people we’ve been bringing in here. There are some that wear letters, but the number of returners and leaders that are in the room is countless. Guys are helping everybody out. We want to have that openness in the locker room so we can get comfortable, get our feet wet, and hit the ground running. It’s super exciting.”
Murray and Biro’s paths continue to take similar turns. The two 25-year-old forwards shared a dressing room at Penn State University, before both turning pro and evolving into Buffalo Sabres prospects. Now, they will each be an assistant captain for the first time in their professional careers after posting career-best numbers a season ago.
“I’ve been fortunate to play for a lot of good leaders over my three years here so far, so it’s a great honor for coach (Appert) to name myself, but I’ve learned a lot from guys who have and haven’t worn letters. I think that’s a big thing here is that everyone’s got a voice and everyone’s got an equal opinion here,” said Biro.
Biro performed at over a point-per-game pace last season, tying for fifth among Amerks skaters with 16 goals and adding 35 assists en route to a 51-point season in just 49 games. The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native remained in Buffalo throughout the team’s training camp, appearing in five preseason games.
Murray has shared a line with Mersch throughout his Rochester tenure and saw the fruits of his labor last season with a 49-point outing – including a career-best 23 goals – while appearing in all but one of Rochester’s games. While the talent is evident, Murray’s thoughts on his fellow leaders extend beyond the ice.
“They’re some of my closest friends. The amount of trust and respect I have in those players is tremendous. They’re not only great players, but great people. It’s special not only because of this organization and what it means to this city, but also because of the group we have in this locker room.”
Appert’s leadership quartet will take the ice Friday night when they lead the Amerks into their historic 68th season at home against the Bridgeport Islanders at The Blue Cross Arena. Puck drops at 7:05 p.m.