THE MOVE TO ROCHESTER WAS A PERFECT FIT FOR ALTJun 6, 2022
By Suzie Cool
At the American Hockey League trade deadline, it was evident. After a multitude of injuries, call-ups and players signed to professional tryouts, the Rochester Americans were in dire need of bolstering their blueline. Otherwise, playoffs seemed to inch further and further away with the way the Amerks were scratching, clawing and fighting for points to keep them afloat in the standings.
Now, these decisions to make moves don’t come easy. For every gain, there’s a loss and you never want to want to let go of a player that’s critical to the culture within the locker room. However, on March 28, the Amerks had to make one of those tough decisions.
In exchange for forward Mason Jobst, Rochester acquired veteran defenseman Mark Alt from the San Jose Barracuda at the deadline.
Prior to arriving in the Flower City, Alt had appeared in 46 games with San Jose, recording eight points on three goals and five assists. In his 10th season in the league, Alt just wanted to come to a team that was going to make a push to the postseason.
WATCH: MARK ALT YEAR-END INTERVIEW
Turns out, Alt was pleasantly surprised upon his arrival to Rochester.
“I was just expecting to get into some meaningful games, that was kind of my theme the whole time. I wasn’t exactly sure the situation Rochester was in at the time or where they were at in the standings, but as soon as I got there I figured out pretty quick and it was right where I wanted to be.”
Coming to Rochester as a tenured veteran in the league, Alt was the exact type of player that the Amerks desperately needed on their blueline when in the final months of the regular season.
Looking at Alt’s resume prior to getting to Rochester, he had appeared in 451 American Hockey League games with the Ontario Reign, Colorado Eagles, Lehigh Valley/Adirondack Phantoms and San Jose, totaling 125 points (33+92) while also appearing in 20 NHL contests with the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers.
Alt was just happy to bring his “stay-at-home” style to a team that was facing a lot of injuries that directly affected the defensive core.
“The biggest thing was just kind of playing my role. It’s what I’ve done for a number of years. It’s more of a shutdown defenseman role. With all the injuries and stuff that happened to me prior to getting there, I think there was a little spot for me to fill as far as penalty killing and just shutting things down.”
From the time Alt arrived in Rochester, he went on to appear in every game for the Amerks through the remainder of the year. In the regular season, Alt starred in the Amerks’ final 14 games of the regular season, accumulating one point with an assist and spending ample time on Rochester’s penalty kill.
It wasn’t hard for the veteran defenseman to get acclimated to his new team upon his arrival, no matter how late in the season it was. Alt said that he’s never had another welcome like he did when getting to Rochester, and from then on everything matched that first impression of his new team.
“I was welcomed by the head coach of the team picking me up at the airport. I’ve never had that in 10 years pro hockey. That alone was a pretty nice welcome,” stated Alt when asked about how easy it was to get acquainted with this particular team. “It may seem small, but it was a big deal. Then everything from there was the same, everything matched the personality of the coach.”
“It was a happy, vibrant place. Everyone was on the same page. Everyone came to work every day. It was easy to fit in, everyone was very welcoming to me when I got there, and we just had a lot of fun,” commented Alt when discussing the locker room culture in Rochester.
As the Amerks clinched a postseason berth on the very last day of the regular season, Alt was exactly where he wanted to be. A part of a team that was going to give others a run for their money, no matter how high the cards were stacked against them.
In the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, Alt continued to help bolster the blueline, appearing in all 10 of the Amerks postseason matchups and notching two assists.
While Alt ended up exactly where he wanted to be to end the 2021-22 campaign, he couldn’t help but be thankful to be a part of a team that was going to do whatever they could until the final buzzer.
“The resiliency of this team was probably the biggest thing that stuck out to me, and it was just fun to be a part of. There was no give-up, even down to the last game. We were going to ride that thing out as long as we could.”