MERSCH'S INFLUENCE ALREADY BEING FELT IN SABRES TRAINING CAMPSep 28, 2022
By Suzie Cool
Rochester Americans captain Michael Mersch is back for round three in the Flower City heading into the 2022-23 campaign and, in my opinion, that’s a really good thing for the new crop of players we’ll be seeing in Rochester this year.
Last season, Mersch went on to have his best year in the American Hockey League yet. On top of captaining the Amerks to the North Division Finals of the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, the veteran forward finished with 54 points on 26 goals and 28 assists, all of which were, or matched, career totals in the league and pushed him over the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his pro career.
“It's good to be back,” stated Mersch when asked how everything was going at Buffalo Sabres training camp this week. “Seeing the guys that's been a lot of fun. Being on the ice and getting back into the season shape has been good, too. So overall, it's been really good.”
Over the last two seasons in Rochester, Mersch has been the player that Amerks head coach Seth Appert leans on day in and day out, essentially an unofficial extension of the coaching staff. These two peas in a pod talk daily and the respect they both have for one another is mutual and a great example as to how newcomers should embrace the people and environment that they’re around.
“He’s such a great example. I mean, even at this level, he's still one of the best practice players every day. Attention to detail is high as his compete,” commented Appert when asked how important it was for Mersch to be at Buffalo training camp helping set an example for what’s expected at the professional level.
Appert then continued with, “For our guys, he's such a great role model, but then for me, specifically as a coach, it’s great to be able to have a guy like him that lives the right way every day and that works the way right way every day. “He's already been able to pass on so many lessons to the ‘Quinns’ and ‘Peterkas’ and ‘Krebs’ of the organization. Now there's going to be another whack of young guys this year that he’s going to help us mold again.”
Even Mersch knows what his role entails from the start of Buffalo camp to Rochester. The Amerks captain acknowledges the fact that he’s here to help the new guys with any questions that come up, if they need a ride anywhere and to help everyone get ready for Rochester’s 67th season in the AHL.
“Well, it’s some of the younger guys first camp and if they have questions or need rides places and I’m around, but it’s also good for me to get ready for the season, too. So overall, there's a lot of different things, but it's all about getting ready for the season.”
Mersch then continued with, “All these young guys are really good players, lots of skill and great work ethic. So, I'm looking forward to playing with some of them and seeing some of them down the line.”
There’s truly no better person to have around the top prospects in the Buffalo organization than Mersch, especially with the resume that the veteran forward brings to the table.
Mersch was originally a fourth-round pick (110th overall) of the Los Angeles Kings in 2011, and a veteran of 377 AHL games prior to his arrival in Rochester. The Amerks captain also appeared in 44 career playoff contests, including 18 in 2014-15 when he led the Manchester Monarchs to the Calder Cup as a rookie.
Through seven professional seasons prior to coming to Rochester, Mersch had put up a quality stat line of 245 points on 122 goals and 123 assists in the regular season. Not to overlook Mersch’s 16 tallies and 19 helpers in postseason action, or the three different organizations that he played for between the Ontario Reign, Texas Stars and Monarchs.
How lucky are we to have someone with so much experience leading the Amerks on the ice and helping develop the new wave of talent within the organization? It all starts again when the puck drops on Oct. 14th at The Blue Cross Arena as the Amerks take on the Toronto Marlies on Opening Night.
Season three in Rochester is loading right now and the Amerks captain left us with, “It's good to be back and I’m really looking forward to getting the season going.”