Amerks Hall of Fame
Established in 1956, the Rochester Americans are one of the most storied franchises in the American Hockey League with a deep and rich history that spans seven decades dating back to its inaugural season.
The creation of the Amerks Hall of Fame in 1986 has allowed the organization to recognize, honor and celebrate individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions.
Today, the Amerks Hall of Fame comprises 65 distinguished members, including several AHL Hall of Famers and Hockey Hall of Fame members, and houses somes of the most iconic names in both Amerks and American Hockey League history.
Class of 2020
Domenic Pittis (C)
Rochester Americans Center - 1998-2000, 2003-04
Domenic Pittis quickly evolved into one of the franchise’s most prolific scorers during his three seasons in Rochester, reaching the 20-goal mark twice and recording at least 65 points on all three occasions. In 204 career games with the Amerks, Pittis produced 246 points, placing him among the top 20 forwards all-time in franchise history, and ranking 17th all-time with 171 assists. He also added 70 points (16+54) in 57 postseason appearances while leading the Amerks to the playoffs in each of his three seasons, including back-to-back trips to the Calder Cup Finals in 1999 and 2000.
A year after breaking into the American Hockey League with the Syracuse Crunch, Pittis joined the Amerks for the 1998-99 campaign and assembled what would be his best season over his 19-year pro career. In 76 games with the Amerks, Pittis amassed an AHL-best 104 points on 38 goals and 66 assists, winning the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the League’s top point-getter during the regular season while helping the Amerks to a franchise record 52 wins during the regular season. Rochester also set an AHL record for the fewest goals allowed with 176.
Pittis became just the sixth different player in team history to earn the honors and first to lead the AHL in scoring since Paul Gardner put up 112 points during the 1985-86 season. It was also the last 100-point performance by an Amerk in recent years.
That same season also saw Pittis accomplish the rarest of feats as he appeared in two games in the same day. On March 28, 1999, Pittis helped the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-3 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted the Calgary, Alberta, native in the second round (52nd overall) of the 1993 NHL Draft, before returning to Rochester in time to notch two assists in the 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks later that same day. Since then, no other Amerks player has done it.
Pittis and the Amerks would advance to their first of two straight Calder Cup Finals later that Spring, ultimately falling in five games to the Providence Bruins.
The following season limited Pittis to just 53 games due to injuries but was equally as productive, nonetheless. Despite missing the first 22 games, Pittis would rediscover his scoring touch and finish the year leading the Amerks with 48 assists and 65 points while leading Rochester back to the Calder Cup Finals. Pittis delivered a memorable performance during the postseason, scoring four goals and tying an AHL record with 26 assists in 21 playoff contests as Rochester fell to the Hartford Wolf Pack in six games.
After three years away from the organization, including two full seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittis made a return trip back to Rochester in 2003-04 for what would be he his final stint with the Amerks. Much like the previous two years, Pittis averaged more than a point-per-game, leading the team in assists (57) and points (77) and ranking second in goals (20) while serving as team captain. The Amerks returned to the postseason for the third time under Pittis, who added 19 points (5+14) in 16 games as Rochester advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
Pittis departed the organization the following year, ending his tenure in Rochester as the franchise’s all-time leader in playoff assists (54) and second in points (70). He also ranks sixth all-time among playoff leaders in games played (57) and seventh in goals (16).
He played the remaining nine seasons of his pro career in Switzerland, winning two league titles along the way as well as a Champions Hockey League championship. Pittis also excelled at the international level while abroad, helping Team Canada claim gold at the 2007 Spengler Cup.
Pittis announced his retirement following the 2012-13 campaign and is currently in his sixth season as an assistant coach with the Stockton Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames.
Class of 2019
Doug Janik (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 2001-06
Doug Janik spent five seasons patrolling the Rochester blueline from 2001 to 2006, establishing himself as one of the most dominant defensemen in franchise history. Janik recorded 91 points (18+73) over his five seasons with the club, ranking 31st all-time among Rochester blueliners, while also leading the Amerks to four straight playoff appearances. His 376 career games are the third-most of any defenseman and rank 14th all-time.
Aside from his offensive contributions, Janik was widely known for his strong physical presence and hard-nosed tenacity that became symbolic with his rugged style of play. Janik averaged more than 100 penalty minutes in each of his five seasons in Rochester, including a career-best 196 penalty minutes during the 2004-05 campaign. He racked up 686 penalty minutes as an Amerk, the third-most among any defenseman and the 12th-most all-time in team history.
Following three years at the University of Maine, Janik began his pro career in Rochester in 2001-02, ranking third among all Amerks defensemen with 23 points (6+17) while appearing in all 80 regular-season games. After producing 16 points in each of the next two seasons, in addition to seeing time with the Buffalo Sabres, Janik helped the Amerks to their best regular-season record in franchise history during the 2004-05 campaign as Rochester finished the year with an AHL-best 51-19-6-4 record, winning the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as regular-season champions. The Springfield, Mass., native accounted for two 12 points (2+10) that year and a team-best 196 penalty minutes.
The Amerks would set several single-season franchise records for the most points (112) and the longest home winning streak which saw Rochester win 17 consecutive home games between Dec. 17 and Mar. 4. The 51-win season would be the second-most in any season for Rochester and Randy Cunneyworth, the franchise’s all-time leader in coaching wins, would be named the AHL’s Coach of the Year.
Janik had his best season as an Amerk during the 2005-06 campaign, his final year in Rochester, scoring five goals and adding 19 assists for 24 points in 71 games. He would also go on to appear in five NHL playoff games for the Sabres, scoring what would be his only NHL postseason goal.
Janik departed the organization the following year and would spend the next six seasons with four different NHL organizations and their AHL affiliates. Janik split the 2013-14 season in the AHL between San Antonio and Chicago before playing one final year overseas. He retired following the 2014-15 campaign having played more than 870 professional games and 251 career points between the NHL, AHL and Europe.
Janik would also spend a four-year stint as an assistant coach with AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds.
Steve Langdon (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1974-79
Steve Langdon spent five of his six pro seasons in Rochester from 1974 to 1979, and much like Janik, helped the team to four straight playoff appearances, including a trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 1977. In 313 career games with the Amerks, Langdon scored 97 goals, ranking him 20th all-time, and added 87 assists for 184 points. He also recorded 14 points (3+11) in 35 postseason appearances.
Langdon’s tenure in Rochester coincided over the Amerks’ five-year affiliation with the Boston Bruins, the team that drafted him 63rd overall in the 1973 NHL Draft. The Toronto, Ontario, native broke into professional hockey with the Albuquerque Six-Guns of the Central Hockey League in 1973-74. Langdon arrived in Rochester the following season, putting up 19 points (8+11) in 56 games while also making his NHL debut that year with Boston, appearing in one game for the Don Cherry-coached Bruins.
During the 1975-76 season, Langdon more than doubled his goal output from the previous year before helping the Amerks to their second playoff appearance in as many years under the Boston affiliation.
After leading the Amerks to the Calder Cup Finals in 1977, Langdon enjoyed his best season in 1977-78, finishing third on the team with a career-high 30 goals and fifth with 57 points, leading the Amerks to their fourth straight playoff appearance. He would play one final season with the Amerks in 1978-79, scoring 25 more goals, appearing in all 80 games while serving as team captain. He closed out his career in Rochester ranked 35th in scoring among all-time forwards.
He went onto to appear in seven career games with the Bruins, recording one assist, as well as three games for the Broome County Dusters of the North American Hockey League.
Langdon’s contributions to the organization extend off the ice as well, and for the past several years, has made a strong commitment to give back to the Rochester community through his work within the Amerks Alumni Association.
After retiring from the game as a player, Langdon served as a coach and administrator in Rochester Youth Hockey for over 20 years. He also founded the Stephanie Langdon Hockey School with the help of the Alumni. Over a five-year period, the program raised over $30,000 for the Golisano Children’s Hospital, in memory of his daughter.
For the past several years, Langdon has been instrumental in building and maintaining a network of local Amerks Alumni and has spearheaded numerous charitable endeavors, most notably the Thomas M. Nichols Scholarship Fund, which awards a scholarship to a local high school senior that actively participates in Section V hockey and displays excellence in their work ethic, character and determination.
He recently fostered a relationship between the Alumni and Oasis Adaptive Sports, a local organization that offers instruction, equipment and support to disabled military veterans in a variety of recreational sporting activities. Langdon, with the assistance of Alumni members, introduce hockey to the veterans and their families by providing on-ice instruction through their “Learn to Skate” program. His philanthropic and outreach efforts also extend to the Veteran Outreach Center, the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network and the annual Amerks Alumni Golf Tournament, which just celebrated its sixth year, and continues to generate thousands of dollars in support of other local charitable organizations.
Class of 2018
Martin Biron (G)
Rochester Americans Goaltender, 1997-2001
Martin Biron backstopped the Amerks for parts of four seasons from 1997 to 2001, during which he compiled a 59-32-9 career record with a .921 save percentage and a 2.36 goals-against average, which ranks 12th among all goaltenders in franchise history.
A native of Lac-Saint-Charles, Quebec, Biron played his first full professional season with the Amerks during the 1997-98 campaign, posting a 14-18-6 record while appearing in 41 of Rochester’s 80 games that year. He also became just the second netminder in franchise history to record five shutouts in his first season with the team, a feat originally accomplished by Gerry McNeil in 1957-58, and that would soon be matched just two years later by former teammate Mika Noronen.
Biron’s best season as an Amerk came the next year during the 1998-99 campaign when he appeared in 52 of Rochester’s 80 games, finishing with a 36-13-3 overall record while setting the franchise mark for the lowest goals-against average (2.07) and highest save percentage (.930), the latter of which also tied an AHL record. For his efforts, Biron was named the recipient of the AHL’s top two goaltending awards – the Aldedge (Baz) Bastien Memorial Award, presented annually to the goaltender voted best at his position, and the Harry (Hap) Holmes Memorial Award, which recognizes a team’s goaltender(s) with the fewest number of goals-against per game who has appeared in at least 25 games during the regular season. He also represented Rochester at the 1999 AHL All-Star Game and would later be named to the AHL’s First All-Star Team at the conclusion of the regular season.
The former first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres became just the second netminder in team history to post six shutouts in a single season that year, matching the then franchise record originally set by Amerks Hall of Famer Bobby Perreault in 1967-68.
Biron played his final season in Rochester in 2000-01 while also splitting time with the Buffalo Sabres, concluding his Amerks career with 2,761 saves and 13 shutouts in 103 games in the red, white and blue. His 13 shutouts are still the fourth-most among any Rochester goaltender in the 62-year history of the franchise.
After making 68 NHL appearances for the Buffalo Sabres between 1995 and 2001, Biron made a permanent jump to the NHL beginning in 2001-02 when he took over the starting goaltending duties for the Sabres. He finished the year with a career-best 2.22 goals-against average in 72 games for Buffalo, in addition to setting NHL career-highs in wins (28), saves (1,630) and shutouts (6).
After departing Buffalo midway through the 2006-07 season, Biron closed out his 16-year playing career with stops in Philadelphia, the New Islanders and the New York Rangers. He retired following the 2013-14 NHL season with a 230-191-52 record and 28 career shutouts to go along with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
Biron served as the director of goaltending at the Academy of Hockey at HarborCenter and is now in his fourth season working alongside Brian Duff for all Sabres TV broadcasts on MSG.
Class of 2017
Scott Nichol (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1994-2000
Scott Nichol played parts of six seasons for the Amerks from 1994-95 to 1999-00 and helped Rochester capture the 1996 Calder Cup championship during the team’s impressive run of six straight postseason appearances. In 326 career games with the Amerks, Nichol amassed 173 points on 80 goals and 93 assists while also adding 19 points (9+10) in 34 playoff contests in the red, white and blue. A two-time former captain, Nichol’s 173 points rank 37th all-time among Amerks forwards and his 813 penalty minutes are seventh-most in franchise history. In addition, he was named the organization’s recipient of the McCulloch Trophy for the 1997-98 season for his dedicated service to the Rochester community.
An 11th-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Nichol joined the Amerks for the 1994-95 campaign after playing just two seasons of junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. In his first season with the Amerks, the Edmonton, Alberta, native recorded 27 points (11+16) and finished fourth on the team with 136 penalty minutes while appearing in all but nine games for Rochester.
He upped his offensive contributions the following year to 31 points (14+17) in 62 games as he and the Amerks made a late-season surge during their unprecedented run to the Calder Cup Finals despite a third-place finish in the regular season. Nichol recorded 13 points (7+6) in the playoffs with perhaps his biggest goal as an Amerk coming in overtime in Game 5 against the Portland Pirates to give Rochester a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. He also made his NHL debut that season, appearing in two games for the Buffalo Sabres.
Nichol enjoyed his best season in Rochester in 1996-97 when he set career-highs in goals (22), assists (21) and points (43) to rank tied for seventh on the team in scoring. He went on to add 71 more points (33+38) over 124 games over his final three seasons with the Amerks, which included another trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 2000.
After departing Rochester following the 1999-00 campaign, Nichol rounded out his 20-year playing career by scoring 127 points (56+71) over 662 NHL games with stops in Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago, Nashville, San Jose and St. Louis. Perennially one of the NHL’s top face-off men, Nichol led the league in face-off efficiency in 2007-08 with Nashville and again during the 2009-10 season with San Jose. He enjoyed success in the playoffs, helping his teams advance to the postseason in six of his final eight seasons, including back-to-back trips to the Western Conference Finals with San Jose, before hanging up his skates for good at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
Immediately following his retirement, Nichol returned to the Nashville Predators organization as the team’s director of player development before being promoted to assistant general manager. He also currently serves as the general manager of the MIlwaukee Admirals, Nashville's AHL affiliate, and remains actively involved in the Rochester Americans Alumni Association.
Kevin Oklobzija (Longtime Beat Reporter)
Beat Reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle, 1986-2017
Keviin Oklobzija holds the distinction of becoming just the second reporter in franchise history to earn the honors and first since Hans Tanner was inducted as part of the inaugural class of 1986.
“When I look at the members of the Amerks Hall of Fame, the true stalwarts, builders and champions of this franchise, I’m quite sure I don’t belong alongside them, especially since I merely chronicled the endeavors and exploits of those who wore the Amerks sweater,” said Oklobzija. “Covering this team and the American Hockey League for 31-plus seasons was much more of an honor and privilege than it was a job or vocation, and the passion and loyalty of the legions of fans fueled my desire to tell stories and inform.”
Oklobzija’s first-rate coverage of the team spanned more than four decades during his 31-plus years with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Media Group. Since taking on the Amerks beat prior to the 1985-86 season, the Minnesota native has had the privilege of covering two Calder Cup championships (1987 and 1996) and 23 of the team’s 44 playoff appearances, including five other trips to the Calder Cup Finals. Additionally, Oklobzija has witnessed and covered four ownership changes, eight Division Championships, two regular season point championships, the continuation of hockey’s longest standing relationship between an NHL club and its AHL affiliate following the long-awaited reunion of the Amerks and Buffalo Sabres in the summer of 2011 and has worked with 10 different Amerks head coaches during his tenure. Adding to his list of professional hockey coverage includes four of the five most recent Winter Olympiads (Nagano, Japan in 1998; Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002; Torino, Italy in 2006; Sochi, Russia in 2014) for the USA Today Sports Group.
A two-time winner of the American Hockey League’s James H. Ellery Award (1992-93, 1995-96) for outstanding media coverage in the newspaper category, Oklobzija provided consistent and first-rate coverage of the Amerks and the American Hockey League in an ever-evolving industry. In addition to providing game stories, player features, previews and daily practice coverage of the Amerks for the newspaper, Oklobzija also utilized the emergence of digital media to keep the fans closely engaged and informed. His blog, appropriately named the “Hockey O-Zone,” was the most-read sports blog on democratandchronicle.com since its launch prior to the 2008-09 season, and provided fans with daily notes, quotes and anecdotes, while his utilization of Twitter to cover the team enhanced the overall media coverage of the Amerks.
Oklobzija also implemented the use of video along with his traditional methods in an effort to expand and diversify his online coverage of the team. He regularly introduced player interview videos to supplement his game stories, contributed hockey content to the D&C’s “ROC Sports Talk” podcast, and most recently, played an instrumental role in bringing Amerks game highlights to the paper’s website. Oklobzija also hosted, along with Amerks Hall of Famer Jody Gage, a meet-and-greet for fans on the concourse of The Blue Cross Arena prior to the home opener for each of the last two seasons so he could talk hockey and preview the season with Amerks fans.
In recent years, Oklobzija’s beat expanded to include not just the Amerks but the entire local hockey scene as well as Rochester’s Triple-A baseball team, but his coverage of the Amerks over the years has been a staple in Rochester sports.
Class of 2016
Richie Dunn (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1985-90
Richie Dunn played parts of five seasons for the Amerks from 1985-86 to 1989-90 and put together one of the all-time great runs by a Rochester blueliner. In 276 games, Dunn recorded 161 points on 41 goals and 120 assists, along with 226 penalty minutes. His 161 points rank him eighth all-time among Amerks defensemen. He also ranks seventh in both goals and assists among Rochester defensemen and served as a team captain during the 1988-89 season.
After splitting the 1985-86 campaign between the Amerks and Buffalo Sabres, Dunn posted arguably his best season in 1986-87. In 64 games, he registered 32 points on six goals and 26 assists to lead all Amerks blueliners in scoring and was named to the AHL First All-Star Team. In the postseason, he collected seven points (1+6) in 18 games to help the Amerks win the Calder Cup championship. Dunn upped his offensive contributions the following season, scoring an AHL career-high 12 goals and adding 35 assists to rank fifth on the team in scoring and tops among defensemen, earning a place on the AHL Second All-Star Team. He went on to add 58 more points (16+42) over 110 games over his final two seasons with the Amerks before retiring in 1990.
In addition to his Hall of Fame career with Rochester, Dunn spent significant time in the NHL, recording 176 points (36+140) in 483 career games with the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and Hartford Whalers. He also won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman in 1984-85 as a member of the Binghamton Whalers.
Daren Puppa (G)
Rochester Americans Goaltender, 1985-1988; 1991-92
Daren Puppa joined the Amerks in 1985-86 and played in 105 games over parts of four seasons in Rochester, compiling a record of 55-35-8, making him one of the winningest goaltenders in franchise history. His 55 victories rank 13th in Amerks history, though only one of the goalies ahead of him on the list appeared in fewer than the 105 games Puppa played in. He also recorded three shutouts along with a 3.12 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage during an era of high-scoring hockey.
A fourth-round draft choice by the Buffalo Sabres in 1983, Puppa began his professional career with the Amerks in 1985-86 after a standout college career at RPI. The native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, went 8-11-0 as a rookie while also making his NHL debut with the Sabres. It was the following season when Puppa emerged as a star. In 57 games during the 1986-87 regular season, he went 33-14-6 with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. Those numbers earned him the honor of being the AHL First All-Star Team goaltender, becoming just the fourth Amerks netminder to earn the honor at the time. Puppa then backstopped the Amerks to the 1987 Calder Cup championship, going 10-6 during the postseason and making 31 saves in their Game 7 victory over Sherbrooke in the Final.
After going 14-8-2 in 1987-88 while splitting the season between Rochester and Buffalo, Puppa went on to spend the next 12 seasons in the NHL with the exception of two brief conditioning stints. He finished his NHL career with a record of 179-161-54 while appearing in 429 games with the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning. In 1989-90, he finished as the runner-up to Hall of Famer Patrick Roy for the Vezina Trophy.
Amerks Booster Club (Organization)
Amerks Booster Club
Established in 1966
The Amerks Booster Club, currently celebrating its 55th season, has been supporting Rochester Americans hockey and the local community in a variety of ways since its inception in 1966. The idea for the Club originally came from Mike and Nancy Sullivan, who, with the help of then Amerks Head Coach and General Manager Joe Crozier, launched the Amerks Executive Club in 1966-67 for the purpose of promoting hockey, supporting the team and assisting the front office. Along the way, the Club has supported countless charitable causes.
Over the years, the Booster Club assisted the Amerks in a variety of ways, such as helping sell tickets at local malls, creating team awards, executing on-ice promotions like Scoro, providing food for the team during road trips and crafting personalized scrapbooks for players each year. In addition, the Meet the Players Dinner has become an annual event that every Amerks team has participated in since 1966. And when they are not cheering for the Amerks at home or on the road, members of the Booster Club are actively involved in the community, raising money and assisting others.
Class of 2015
Chris Taylor (C/Head Coach)
Rochester Americans Center, 1999-2011
Rochester Amerians Assistant Coach, 2011-16
Rochester Americans Head Coach, 2017-20
Chris Taylor spent a total of 17 seasons with the Rochester Americans as either a player or coach, marking one of the longest runs with the organization in franchise history.
Taylor enjoyed a 19-year professional career that saw him become one of the all-time greats in an Amerks uniform. After spending parts of nine seasons with the Amerks between 1999 and 2011, Taylor finished his career ranked among the franchise’s all-time leaders in assists (3rd, 339), games played (4th, 519), points (5th, 481) and goals (10th, 142). He also served as team captain during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons and was an alternate captain during several other campaigns. Taylor received perhaps the highest honor of his career during the 2014-15 season when he was unanimously inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame on Jan. 10, 2015 in his first year of eligibility, becoming the 56th member of the prestigious club.
A member of the Amerks’ 50th Anniversary Team, Taylor is also a three-time Amerks team MVP and scoring champion (2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05) and is the only player in franchise history to achieve those two feats in the same season on three occasions. During his final season as a player in 2010-11, Taylor ranked second on the Amerks in scoring with 51 points (10+41) in 72 games. He also finished second on the team in scoring the previous year with 61 points (17+44) when he returned to Rochester following a three-year stint in Germany, where he played for the Frankfurt Lions.
During the 2004-05 campaign, Taylor led the Amerks with 79 points (21+58) in 79 games to help the Amerks capture the MacGregor Kilpatrick Trophy for the AHL’s best regular season record and he was honored with the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to the game of hockey. Taylor also shares the franchise record for most assists in a single game with six, set on Oct. 21, 2005.
During his pro career, Taylor appeared in 149 NHL games with the New York Islanders, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres, recording 32 points (11+21) and 48 PIM. Of those 149 games, 90 came in a Buffalo uniform. In 2003-04, he set NHL career-highs in games played (54), goals (6), assists (6) and points (12) while with the Sabres.
Prior to joining the Sabres/Amerks organization in 1999, Taylor won two Turner Cup Championships with Denver and Utah of the International Hockey League. The Stratford, Ontario native was originally drafted by the Islanders in the second round (27th overall) of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft and finished his pro career with 1,297 games played at the NHL, AHL, IHL and European levels.
Upon his retirement as a player, Taylor shifted into a coaching role, first joining the Amerks staff as development coach prior to the 2011-12 season. He was soon elevated to assistant coach midway through the 2012-13 season before returning as head coach prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, becoming the 32nd head coach in team history and just the 12th former Amerk to get named to the position.
In three seasons at the helm of the Amerks, Taylor compiled a 116-65-33 record and led Rochester to back-to-back Calder Cup Playoff appearances. During his final season, he was named as the head coach of the North Division team for the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic in Ontario, Calif., becoming the first Amerks head coach to represent Rochester at an AHL All-Star event since John Tortorella in 1997.
Excluding the 2016-17 season, when he led the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to an AHL-best 51-20-3-2 overall record as an assistant coach, the Amerks have finished in third place or better in the AHL’s North Division standings and advanced to the postseason in five of the eight years with Taylor on the coaching staff.
Class of 2014
Mike Hurlbut (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1997-2002
Mike Hurlbut, the 55th member of the Hall of Fame, is the longest-tenured captain in the storied history of the Amerks, having worn the “C” during all five of his seasons in Rochester (1997-98 to 2001-02) while leading the team to multiple appearances in the Calder Cup Finals. The defenseman appeared in 288 games with the Amerks and recorded 167 points on 44 goals and 123 assists to rank tied for fifth all-time in points and 11th in games played among Rochester defensemen. In four of his five seasons with the Amerks, Hurlbut either held or shared the team lead in points by a blueliner.
A native of Massena, New York, Hurlbut led the Amerks to successful playoff runs as the team appeared in back-to-back Calder Cup Finals in 1999 and 2000. In those two postseasons, Hurlbut appeared in a total of 40 games and collected 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists. He appeared in 51 career playoff contests during his Amerks tenure, ranking eighth all-time and third among defensemen in franchise history. He also represented the Amerks at two AHL All-Star Games and served as captain for the Planet USA team in 2001.
Hurlbut, who now serves as the associate head men’s hockey coach at St. Lawrence University and is in his 12th year on the team’s coaching staff, appeared in 839 career professional hockey games between the NHL, AHL and IHL. He was originally selected by the New York Rangers in the 1989 NHL Supplemental Draft.
Class of 2013
Dane Jackson (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1995-98; 1999-2001
Dane Jackson, a native of Castlegar, British Columbia, played five seasons with the Amerks (1995-98, 1999-2001) and served as team captain of Rochester’s 1996 Calder Cup Championship team. In 246 career regular season games with the Amerks, Jackson recorded 170 points on 83 goals and 87 assists, along with 410 penalty minutes. He also registered 27 points (14+13) and 75 penalty minutes in 36 career postseason contests with Rochester.
A third round draft choice (44th overall) in 1988 by Vancouver, Jackson spent his first three professional seasons in the Canucks organization before signing with the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent on Aug. 4, 1995. During the 1995-96 campaign, Jackson’s first with the organization, he played in 50 games with the Amerks and was named captain of the team while recording 46 points on 27 goals and 19 assists, as well as 132 penalty minutes. He also scored nine points (5+4) in 22 games with the Sabres.
During the 1996 postseason, Jackson collected 10 points (4+6) and 53 penalty minutes in 19 games while providing leadership and toughness during Rochester’s run to the sixth Calder Cup championship in franchise history. Following a dramatic 2-1 home win over the Portland Pirates in Game 7 of the ’96 finals, Jackson became the first Amerks captain to raise the Calder Cup in Rochester since Larry Hillman in 1965.
Jackson, who went on to play four more seasons with Rochester (1996-97, 1997-98, 1999-00, 2000-01), currently ranks 36th all-tine in scoring by an Amerks forward and is noted for his commitment to the Rochester community during his time as a player. In 1997-98, Jackson represented the Amerks at the AHL All-Star Game and served as captain of the Canadian squad. The 42-year old Jackson retired from professional hockey after spending his final two seasons (2001-2003) with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, and is currently in his seventh season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of North Dakota.
Rich Funke (Broadcaster/Channel 10 Sports Director)
Television Sports Director/News Anchor, 1971-2012
Rich Funke, who retired from WHEC-TV in December 2012 after a 44-year career in broadcasting, is a longtime supporter of the Amerks who covered the team through three Calder Cup championships, including the 1987 finals in which he served as a member of the Amerks television broadcast team.
A two-time winner (1976-77 and 1985-86) of the American Hockey League’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for his outstanding contributions to the AHL by a media member, Funke is considered a pioneer in Rochester sports broadcasting in terms of expanding coverage of local teams and events, and is credited with convincing WHEC to pick up Amerks television broadcasts in the early 1980’s. He was a member of the team’s original TV broadcast team. Funke has also contributed to charitable endeavors for the Amerks organization and Alumni Association, and as a charter member of the team’s Hall of Fame Committee, has been involved in honoring Amerks legends for 26 years.
Funke, a native of Batavia, NY, began his broadcasting career in Rochester at WHAM Radio in 1971 before moving to WAXC Radio a year later. In 1974, Funke was hired as sports director at WHEC and, except for a one-year stint in Miami, FL, has remained there ever since. Despite taking on full-time news anchoring duties in 2005, Funke has remained involved in the Rochester sports community.
He currently serves as a New York State Senator in District 55.
Class of 2012
Rick Pagnutti (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1972-76
Rick Pagnutti, a native of Sudbury, Ontario, and the No. 1 overall pick in the 1967 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, spent four seasons with the Amerks from 1972-73 to 1975-76 and appeared in 278 games.
When he left Rochester after the 1975-76 campaign, he was the franchise’s all-time highest scoring defenseman with 194 points on 45 goals and 149 assists. Since then, only one Amerks defenseman – Don McSween – has scored more career points in a Rochester uniform than Pagnutti, who notched more than 50 points in three of his four seasons.
Upon arriving in Rochester in 1972, Pagnutti set what would be career-highs in goals (18) and points (55) to rank third on the team in scoring and was named an AHL Second Team All-Star. His 18 goals that season would stand as the franchise’s record for most by a defenseman for 46 years until it was broken by Zach Redmond on Jan. 23, 2019 during what would be a record-setting season for the defenseman.
The following season, he registered 54 points (11+43) and ranked fifth on the team in scoring and third in assists. In 1974-75, he was once again named a Second Team AHL All-Star after collecting 12 goals and 40 assists in 74 games. He also added eight points (3+5) in 12 postseason contests that season.
Just the 12th defenseman to be inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame, Pagnutti is also one of only seven Rochester blue-liners to be named to multiple AHL All-Star teams. In addition, his 18 goals during the 1972-73 season remains the highest single-season total by a defenseman in franchise history.
Darcy Wakaluk (G)
Rochester Americans Goaltender, 1986-91
In parts of five seasons with the Amerks from 1986-87 to 1990-91, Darcy Wakaluk appeared in 181 games while posting a record of 81-57-13 with a 3.36 goals-against average, a .884 save percentage and seven shutouts. His 81 wins rank fifth all-time in franchise history.
In 36 playoff games, Wakaluk finished with an outstanding 21-12 record for the Amerks to go along with a 3.40 goals-against average and a .875 save percentage. During the team’s run to the Calder Cup championship in 1987, Wakaluk won both games in which he started while appearing in five games. In 1990, he went 10-6 while helping the Amerks come within two wins of another Calder Cup before falling in the Finals to Springfield. The following spring, Wakaluk went 6-3 in the postseason as the Amerks once again advanced to the Calder Cup Finals before losing to Springfield.
In 1989-90, Wakaluk posted a record of 31-16-4 to set a career-high for wins while also ranking fifth in the AHL with a 3.35 goals-against average. The following season, he shared the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award, given annually to the AHL’s outstanding goaltenders, with teammate David Littman as Wakaluk ranked second among AHL netminders with a 2.99 goals against average.
Aside from his stellar record between the pipes for the Amerks, Wakaluk even contributed offensively and is perhaps best remembered for becoming the first goaltender in North American professional hockey to score a goal by shooting the puck into the net during a game against the Utica Devils on Dec. 5, 1987. Just three days later, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ron Hextall repeated the feat, becoming the first National Hockey League netminder to score a goal. Wakaluk owns the Amerks franchise record for most career points by a goalie with one goal and 16 assists.
Wakaluk, a native of Pincher Creek, Alberta, is just the fourth goaltender to be inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame in the 56-year history of the franchise, joining Bobby Perreault, Gerry Cheevers and Jacques Cloutier.
Class of 2011
Doug Houda (D/Assistant Coach)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1995-96; 1999-2003
Rochester Americans Assistant Coach, 2003-06
Doug Houda spent a total of eight seasons with the Rochester Americans as either a player or assistant coach.
The gritty, hard-nosed defenseman joined former teammate Randy Cunneyworth on the Amerks coaching staff three seasons after serving as the team’s captain his final year of playing in 2002-03. The Amerks had a 125-86-16-13 record over his three seasons as an assistant coach, including a 51-19-4-6 record and a franchise-record of 112 points in 2004-05, which was the top record in the American Hockey League that season. Houda also had the distinction of coaching Rochester’s 50th anniversary team in 2005-06, which comprised former NHLers Clarke MacArthur, Chris Thorburn, Nathan Paetsch, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy and silver-medal winning netminder Ryan Miller.
During his playing career, Houda logged 1,114 games over the span of 17 professional seasons. A total of 561 of those games were spent in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. The Blairmore, Alberta, native would go on to score 19 goals and 63 assists for 82 points, while compiling 1,104 NHL career penalty minutes.
After making his pro debut in the 1985-86 campaign, “Houds” officially made the jump to the pros in 1986-87 in the AHL, where he would split his career between the Adirondack Red Wings and Rochester. During his tenure in the AHL, Houda recorded 238 points (55+183) in 550 games, 284 of those in the red, white and blue over the parts of five seasons (1995-96, 1999-2003.) The blueliner registered 23 goals and 87 assists as an Amerk, and his 683 penalty minutes still stand 11th best on the Amerks all-time list. In the postseason, he notched 19 points (4+15) in 49 games, including eight (3+5) in the 1996 playoffs to help guide Rochester to its sixth and most recent Calder Cup championship – one he recalls as his best memory with the Amerks.
After leaving Rochester for the next three years, Houda would return to the Flower City for the 1999-00 season, playing in all but one regular season game before appearing in 21 postseason outings to lead the Amerks to the Calder Cup Finals. Houda was named Rochester’s Unsung Hero that year as the Amerks won the Empire Division and Western Conference Championship, playing a large role in the team’s run at the Calder Cup, finishing 12th on the team in points (24) and third among team defensemen.
He posted his best season as an Amerk in 2001-02, where he finished second on the team in points among team defensemen with 28 (6+22) in 64 appearances. In 2002-03, Houda would again finish the season second among Amerk blueliners in scoring with 25 points (3+22), while finishing third with 191 penalty minutes and team-best plus-17 on-ice rating.
Adding to his resume of professional accomplishments includes earning a selection as an AHL First Team All-Star with the Adirondack Red Wings in 1987-88, just his second season of pro hockey. That very same year, he scored his first-ever NHL goal with the Detroit in a game against Philadelphia on December 11th. He skated in his first NHL game against Minnesota on December 10th, 1985, almost two years to the day of his milestone goal.
Houda was originally drafted by the Red Wings with the second overall pick (28th overall) in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. He played junior hockey with Calgary of the Western Hockey League.
After leaving the coaching scene in Rochester in 2006, Houda would spend the next 10 years as an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins and is currently in his fifth in the same capacity with the Detroit Red Wings.
Don Stevens (Play-by-Play Broadcaster)
Play-by-Play Broadcaster, 1986- Present
The 2020-21 season marks Don Stevens’ remarkable 35th season as the “Voice of the Rochester Americans.” Stevens has seen many changes in the AHL since he first put on the headphones and called his first Amerks game at the old Rochester War Memorial. Known as the “Dean of AHL Broadcasters,” Stevens has witnessed the expansion of the league to an all-time high 32 teams and the explosion of media coverage of the AHL.
The Amerks’ broadcaster has served the team in numerous capacities during his tenure, including public relations director, TV host, radio talk show host, and TV and radio play-by-play broadcaster. In addition, Stevens founded the AHL Broadcasters/Writers Association and served as its president.
The “Voice of the Amerks” calls games on the new radio home of the Amerks, 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester, in addition to calling select home games live on the MSG Network. He teams up with color analyst and former Buffalo Sabre Ric Seiling to bring AHL games to the City of Rochester and around the country. Stevens also had the distinction of covering the Amerks on multiple occasions over the NHL Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, introducing Amerks hockey on both a national and international level.
In 2009-10, Stevens called Rochester’s historic 2,000th franchise win as the Amerks joined an elite club, becoming just the second team in the American Hockey League and eighth overall in North American hockey history to achieve the feat. He was also behind the microphone for five of the 13 goals scored by an AHL goaltender, most recently in 2010-11 when Binghamton’s Chris Holt fired in an empty-netter against Rochester.
Stevens’ most memorable season with the organization came during the 2010-11 campaign, his 25th with the red, white and blue. Stevens’ years of dedicated service to the club was acknowledged with his enshrinement in the team’s prestigious Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011. As the 50th member of the Hall, and just the second broadcaster inducted, Stevens joined an elite group of individuals whose tireless contributions and commitment to the franchise matches those of the original 1956 Rochester Americans.
From 1996-2009, Stevens maintained a dual role while also serving as the broadcaster for the Rochester Rhinos (United Soccer League). With the Rhinos, Stevens was part of back-to-back regular season championships (1998-99), three A-League championships in four years (1998, 1999 and 2001), the 1999 U.S. Open Cup and 14 consecutive playoff runs during his tenure. In 1998, he even covered an Amerks hockey game and the Rhinos’ championship game on the same day. Stevens was inducted into the Rhinos Hall of Fame on Sept. 24, 2016 during halftime of the club's final regular-season home matchup, becoming the first broadcaster in Rhinos team history to earn the honors.
Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards for his work on radio and television. In 1993-94, he won the AHL’s James H. Ellery Award, given to the person that has made outstanding contributions to the progress of the AHL for his work on the Amerks Radio Network. Stevens has also won a national ACE Award for Cable Excellence as the host of the weekly television show, “Amerks Report,” and received the Rochester Press-Radio Club’s Louis MacMillan Award for sportscasting excellence.
In 2003, he was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame in the media category. The Walk of Fame is located inside Frontier Field and features the names of fans, players, contributors and media throughout Rochester’s sports history. Following the 2012-13 season, Stevens’ 27th as the Amerks play-by-play man, he was again awarded with the AHL’s prestigious James H. Ellery Memorial Award for excellence in radio coverage for the second time in his career.
Most recently, in June of 2018, Stevens was named the recipient of the 2018 Gary Smith and George Beahon Sports Media Excellence Award at the 72nd annual Press-Radio Club Dinner held in downtown Rochester. This past season, he was honored as the 2020 Sportsperson of the Year by the Rochester St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.
With the Amerks, Stevens has broadcast seven Calder Cup Finals and the Spengler Cup in Switzerland, winning a pair of Calder Cup championships in the process. Stevens has taken the AHL to its highest level during the course of his career and has shown his true professionalism by working with younger broadcasters throughout the league. Each season he has made it a point to “promote the Rochester Americans and the American Hockey League,” from his seat in the radio booth to the podium at numerous charity events.
During his career, broadcasting has taken the Wainwright, Alberta, native all over the United States, Canada and Europe. He has worked in such markets as Seattle, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Rochester.
THE DON STEVENS’ FILE:
TOP FIVE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS
1.) “My first season was 86-87, and there was a memorable moment in my very first game at the War Memorial. Shane Churla (Binghamton) went up on the stage after some of the fans.”
2.) “Since then, there have been lots of memorable moments. One of the best was going to the championship in my first year and winning it at Sherbrooke and coming home to the thousands of people at the airport at 4:00 in the morning.”
3.) “That same season at Binghamton, beating the Rangers on the last night of the season in a shootout, to win the regular season championship.”
4.) “Going to the finals seven times in my first 14 years in Rochester is just an incredible statistic.”
5.) “Calling the first ever goal scored by a goalie by ‘shooting’ it directly into the net (Darcy Wakaluk in Utica), about a week before Ron Hextall did it (for the Philadelphia Flyers). In fact, I called the first four goalie goals in league history - two for (Wakaluk & Robb Stauber) and two against.”
Class of 2010
Randy Cunneyworth (LW/Head Coach)
Rochester Americans Left Wing, 1980-85; 1998-2000
Rochester Americans head Coach, 2000-08; 2015-16
Randy Cunneyworth stands as one of the most decorated players and coaches in Rochester Americans history. In all, he spent 16 seasons with the Amerks, seven as a player and nine as a head coach over two separate stints, and collectively has over 1,000 career games in the red, white and blue.
As a player, Cunneyworth owns the distinction of being one of only a few players to begin and end his playing career in Rochester, while also beginning his head coaching career with the Amerks. He is the only man to accomplish that feat in the 65-year history of the Amerks.
His coaching exploits were as legendary as his playing career. Cunneyworth remains the longest tenured and the most winningest coach all-time in franchise history, having accumulated 340 career coaching victories over his nine seasons as Rochester’s bench boss from 2000-08 and then again from 2015-16. He also guided Rochester to six playoff appearances, including each of his first five years behind the bench.
After serving as the development coach for the Buffalo Sabres in 2013-14, Cunneyworth returned for his second stint as head coach of the Amerks in 2015-16 in what would be a record-setting season for the Etobicoke, Ontario, native. On March 23, 2016, Cunneyworth became the franchise’s all-time leader in coaching wins after leading the Amerks to a 6-5 come-from-behind win over the St. John’s IceCaps, surpassing former Calder Cup-winning head coach and fellow Hall of Famer John Van Boxmeer with his 338th career victory in Rochester. He would add two more victories by season’s end, finishing his tenure with a 340-311-65 career record (.541 percentage) over 716 games. He also added an 18-22 record in 40 playoff contests.
Cunneyworth served as interim head coach for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens during the 2011-12 campaign. After starting the season as an assistant coach, Cunneyworth was promoted to interim head coach on Dec. 17, 2011 and guided the Canadiens to an 18-23-9 record in 50 games. His tenure in the Montreal organization also featured a one-year stint as head coach of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, whom he guided to a first-place finish in the AHL’s North Division followed by a trip to the Western Conference Final during the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs.
In 10 totals seasons as an AHL head coach with Rochester and Hamilton, Cunneyworth compiled a record of 384-343-69 in 796 games, ranking fifth in games coached and eighth in wins.
Prior to his time with the Canadiens organization, Cunneyworth spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Thrashers (2008-09 and 2009-10). He began his coaching career as a player-assistant coach with the Amerks under former head coach Brian McCutcheon during the 1999-00 AHL season and helped the team to an appearance in the Calder Cup Final. Upon his retirement as a player, he was hired by the Amerks to serve as head coach the following season and retained that post for eight seasons, the longest consecutive tenure of any coach in team history.
During the 2006-07 season, Cunneyworth became only the second coach in team history to work 500 career games. He also passed legendary coach Joe Crozier for second place on Rochester’s all-time wins list.
Cunneyworth’s most successful season at the helm of the Amerks came during the 2004-05 campaign, when he guided Rochester to an AHL-best 51-19-6-4 record (112 points). In addition to earning the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year, the Amerks set several single-season franchise records, including most points (112) and the longest home winning streak which saw Rochester win 17 consecutive home games between Dec. 17 and Mar. 4.
As a player, Cunneyworth had an NHL career that spanned parts of 16 seasons, including three as team captain of the Ottawa Senators. He began his NHL career with the Sabres in 1980-81 after the team selected him in the eighth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft and returned to Buffalo in the 1998-99 season for what would be his final NHL season. In 866 career NHL games with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Hartford, Chicago and Ottawa, Cunneyworth registered 414 points on 189 goals and 225 assists along with 1,280 penalty minutes.
Aside from two games with the Springfield Indians, Cunneyworth spent his entire American Hockey League career in Rochester. He began his career with the Amerks as a rookie in 1980-81 and went on to record 239 points (101+138) in 377 games over parts of seven seasons, highlighted by a Calder Cup championship in 1982-83. Cunneyworth would spend two more seasons with the Amerks before departing for the NHL in 1985-86, where he would remain for the next 13 seasons. He would ultimately find his way back to the Sabres in 1998-99, helping Buffalo to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final while also taking the Amerks to the Calder Cup Final that same year and again in 2000 as a player-coach for Rochester.
During the 1990-00 season, his final as a player, he was named captain of Team Canada for the 2000 Kodak AHL All-Star Classic held in Rochester and he was the recipient of the of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for his sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
Cunneyworth retired from hockey following the 1999-00 season, ending his career in Rochester ranked 13th on the franchise’s all-time games played list (377) and 19th in goals (101) while finishing 22nd among all-time forwards in points (239). He transitioned into coaching the following year, becoming the 26th head coach in franchise history.
Jim Wiemer (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1981-85; 1994-95
Very similar to Randy Cunneyworth, Jim Wiemer began and ended his 17-year professional career with the Rochester Americans and is now reunited with his former Rochester teammate in the Hall of Fame. The rugged defenseman played parts of five seasons (1981-85, 1994-95) with the Amerks, totaling 167 points (48+119) in 218 games. Wiemer also still ranks tied for fifth all-time in points among team defenseman and sits third all-time with 34 playoff assists.
The forward-turned-defenseman also enjoyed success at the NHL level, playing in 325 National Hockey League games with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings and the Boston Bruins, while notching 101 points (29+72). Further, “Wiems” won the Stanley Cup in 1988 with the Edmonton Oilers.
Kent "Snacky" Weisbeck (Athletic Trainer)
Athletic Trainer, 1985-Present
Kent Weisbeck enters his 36th season as an Athletic Trainer for the Rochester Americans. In the past 35 years, Weisbeck has worked more than 2,500 games, earned two Calder Cup rings (1987 and 1996) and has worked in the Calder Cup Finals on five other occasions.
On March 10, 2019, Weisbeck worked his remarkable 2,500th game with Amerks. Prior to the game against Binghamton, the organization honored him with a plaque and custom jersey commemorating his career milestone.
During the 2016 offseason, the longtime member of the Amerks organization was honored by the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society/Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers (PHATS/SPHEM) with the Career Achievement Alumni Award in recognition of his dedication and excellence in his field. In August of 2016, Weisbeck was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016. Since 1997, a special section at the center of Frontier Field's Walk of Fame has been designated to Rochester's sports legends. These individuals (fans, players, management and media spanning Rochester's sports history) are those who have made a monumental impact on the community through their achievements in the Rochester-area sports scene.
During the 2009-10 season, his 25th consecutive year of service to the organization, “Snacky” became the first-ever athletic trainer in the 65-year history of the franchise to be inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame. He was honored as the 48th member of the prestigious club, joining former Amerks head coach Randy Cunneyworth and Jim Wiemer as part of the Class of 2010.
Weisbeck worked one day in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, but the rest of his hours, days and years have been in Rochester. On October 23, 2010, Weisbeck reached a professional milestone working in his 2,000th game. The team honored him on November 7, 2010 with a plaque and fitted him with the first Blue Jacket, an honor bestowed to Weisbeck by then team owner Curt Styres as a testament to his personal milestone.
Weisbeck has twice had the distinction of serving as a trainer at the AHL All-Star Classic. His first time on the bench came during the 2000 All-Star Classic hosted in Rochester at The Blue Cross Arena. He was also selected as head athletic trainer for the Western Conference All-Star team for the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic in Hershey. He was selected by the American Hockey League based upon his many years of excellence and dedicated service to the AHL and the City of Rochester.
The Buffalo, NY, native graduated from the University at Buffalo in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education with a minor in athletic training. After graduating from UB, he stayed at the university to work as an assistant athletic trainer from 1977-1985. In 1985, he made the jump to the AHL and the Amerks.
Class of 2009
Larry Hillman (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1961-62, 1963-68
Larry Hillman was inducted into the Amerks’ Hall of Fame for his stellar six seasons (1961-62, 1963-68) with the Rochester Americans, scoring 14 goals and adding 108 assists for 122 points in 169 games. At the time of his induction, he still ranked 12th on the team’s all-time points list for defensemen. Hillman also helped the Amerks win their first Calder Cup in 1964-65 as the team’s captain. In addition, he earned First Team AHL All-Star honors that season.
Hillman was not around for the Amerks’ Cup runs in 1966 and 1968 because he was helping the Toronto Maple Leafs win four Cups over a six-year period. After leaving Rochester, Hillman found success wherever he played. That Calder Cup championship was the second of 10 championships he would be a part of in his 24 years in professional hockey, 22 as a player and two as a head coach. To go along with the one Calder Cup, he won six Stanley Cups (1955, 1962-64, 1967 and 1969), two Avco Cups (1977-78) and was part of a third Western Hockey Association title (1979). He also holds two places in Stanley Cup history, as the youngest player to be engraved on the Cup (18 years, two months and nine days) and the first player to win Cups with three organizations. He was also the recipient of the Eddie Shore Award, honored as the American Hockey League’s best defenseman, during the 1959-60 season after scoring a career best 12 goals along with 43 points in 70 games with the Providence Reds.
He won his first Cup in 1955 with the Detroit Red Wings just after his 18th birthday. Hillman joined the Red Wings from the Hamilton Tiger Cubs of the Ontario Hockey Association. Thus, he established a record that can never be broken because of current National Hockey League rules. The rule states that a player must be 18 by September 15th to be eligible to play in the NHL that season. Hillman also made history by winning his final Stanley Cup in 1969 with the Montreal Canadiens.
The 1967 Cup was the most thrilling for Hillman, as Toronto defeated Montreal and Chicago each in six games. That playoff, defensemen Marcel Pronovost and Hillman did not allow an even-strength goal throughout the playoffs. The Cup was also the last for the Leafs and the last before the NHL expanded to 12 teams.
In his career, the Kirkland Lake, Ontario, native played in 791 NHL games with teams in Detroit, Boston, Toronto, Minnesota, Montreal, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Buffalo. During his tour in the NHL he scored 36 goals and added 196 assists for 232 points. Hillman also appeared in 74 NHL postseason games, tallying two goals and nine assists for 11 points.
Class of 2008
Craig Charron (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1995-98; 2000-02
Craig Charron joined the Amerks’ Hall of Fame after a brilliant five-year career with the team and stands as one of the most decorated Amerks in team history. The former center made his first season with the Rochester Americans, in 1995-96, a memorable one. He led the club with 43 goals, 52 assists and 95 points, earned team MVP honors and helped the Amerks defeat the Portland Pirates in dramatic fashion to win their sixth Calder Cup Championship.
“Sharky” played in 335 games and recorded 122 goals and 190 assists with the Amerks (1995-98, 2000-02). He was also a two-time winner of the team’s MVP award, scoring title, McCulloch Trophy for community service, Fairand/O’Neil Award for sportsmanship and the Booster Club’s Most Popular Player award.
Charron was originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1988 out of Division I UMass-Lowell. His career lasted 12 seasons, from 1990 to 2002, as he played in 726 professional games. His travels took him to teams in the American Hockey League, International Hockey League, ECHL and Europe. Charron was a two-time member of the US National Team and represented the United States in the World Championships in 1995 and 1998. His USA Hockey bloodlines run deep, as he is the nephew of famed “Miracle on Ice” goalie Jim Craig.
“Sharky” spent the majority of his career in the AHL, playing in 490 games for teams in Fredericton, Cornwall, Lowell, St. John’s and Rochester. In eight full AHL seasons, he was named to three AHL All-Star Games and his teams made the playoffs each season. In 1997-98 he was also named the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Award winner, which is given annually to the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
Gates Orlando (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1983-88
Gates Orlando entered the Hall of Fame after an impressive career that spanned parts of 15 seasons and included a Calder Cup championship and two trips to the Winter Olympics.
The Montreal native was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the eighth round (164th overall) of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Orlando’s journey began at Providence College and landed the first-year pro in Rochester in 1983-84. In the regular season he recorded 15 points in 11 games and was clutch in the playoffs, scoring 14 points in 18 games as Rochester advanced to the Calder Cup Finals.
It was a sign of things to come for Orlando, whose Rochester career covered five seasons (1983-1988). The right wing amassed 64 goals and 92 assists for 156 points in 120 games. He also appeared in 45 playoff games and recorded a point per game, notching 15 goals and 30 assists. In 1986-87, he was a member of the Amerks’ fifth Calder Cup team. That season was also his best offensively, as he played in 44 games and recorded 22 goals and 42 assists during the regular season. In the Amerks’ march to the Calder Cup, he recorded nine goals and 13 assists in 18 games.
While with the Amerks, Orlando was also often called up by Buffalo and played in 98 NHL games in his career. He scored 18 goals with 26 assists from 1984-87.
Following the 1986-87 season, Orlando began his international career. In 1987-88 he began the season in Italy before returning to finish the season with the Amerks. He then spent the next 279 out of 280 regular season games playing overseas. His lone North American game was his last in 2003-04, with the Albany River Rats of the AHL.
Orlando starred in Italy (1987-94) with the HC Meran, Bolzano and Milano Devils teams. Internationally he excelled for Italy at the "B" Pool World Championships. He was named the best forward at the 1990 tournament and selected to the all-star team when he led Italy to the "B" Pool title in 1991 and promotion to the "A" flight.
Between 1992 and 1998, Orlando represented Italy at seven consecutive "A" Pool World Championships. He also took part in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics and the 1998 Nagano Games and was a domestic star for the Swiss team SC Bern.
Since his playing days, he has been the head coach of the Adirondack IceHawks, worked as an assistant coach for the Albany River Rats and served as a professional scout for the New Jersey Devils.
Class of 2007
John Bednarski (D/Broadcaster/Humanitarian)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1972-73; 1980-81
Rochester Americans Broadcaster and Humanitarian, 1985-05
John Bednarski is in the Amerks’ Hall of Fame for his role as a defenseman, color commentator and humanitarian. The Thunder Bay, Ontario, native played in two seasons with the Amerks (1972-73, 1980-81), served as Amerks color commentator (radio and TV analyst) for 20 years (1985-2005) and helped establish the Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament and The Amerks at Your Service Dinner.
During his playing days, Bednarski was a four-time American Hockey League All-Star, spending time in Rochester, New Haven, Adirondack, Providence and Erie. He played in 704 professional games and collected 104 goals, 339 assists and 1,397 penalty minutes. He also appeared in 100 National Hockey League games, spending 99 of them with the New York Rangers.
His began his professional career in Rochester in 1972-73. In his first season, he was part of one of the most memorable teams in franchise history. During the 1972-73 campaign, the independent Amerks and head coach Don Cherry restored winning hockey to Rochester. The Amerks, competing with a collection of castoffs and hard-working players, finished in third place in the Eastern Division and returned to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. The Amerks fell in six games to Boston with Bednarski collecting nine points (1+8) in six postseason games. During his two seasons with the Amerks he scored 17 goals and added 42 assists for 59 points in 148 games.
He spent the next two seasons (1973-74 and 1974-75) with the Providence Reds. In 1973-74 he led the league in penalty minutes with 222 and was named a Second Team All-Star. After five straight seasons in the AHL, he finally got the call to the NHL with the New York Rangers. He spent three seasons with the Rangers from 1974-1977. In 1975-76, he played in a career NHL best 59 games.
Bednarski spent the majority of his final six seasons in the AHL. In 1980-81 he returned to Rochester and played in 76 games, recording three goals, 18 assists and 156 penalty minutes.
The 42nd member of the Amerks Hall of Fame was the 10th defenseman enshrined. He joined fellow blue liners Don McSween, Al Arbour, Darryl Sly, Don Cherry, Duane Rupp, Steve Kraftcheck, Jim Hofford, John Van Boxmeer and Dave Fenyves.
After retiring from hockey in 1982 he remained close to the Amerks’ organization. In 1985 he became the color commentator for the Amerks and spent most of his days next to broadcaster Don Stevens. Bednarski spun yarns about the old days of hockey and bantered with Stevens to the delight of thousands of fans listening on radio, TV and online.
Bednarski was also instrumental away from the rink, helping maintain the Amerks Alumni Association and also serving as its president for many years. He also founded a charity golf tournament with former Amerks owner Ken Bonn and assisted Bonn in founding the Cystic Fibrosis Amerks’ at Your Service Dinner.
Class of 2006
Scott Metcalfe (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1987-91; 1993-98
Scott Metcalfe was inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame during the team’s historic 50th Anniversary season. Metcalfe played in Rochester for nine seasons (1987-91 and 1993-98) and was a fan favorite because of his tenacious play and work in the community. The former first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers still ranked eighth on the team’s all-time points list with 349 at the time of this induction. He was also the all-time penalty minute leader with 1,424, sixth in games played (499), 10th in goals (137) and ninth in assists (211). Three times during his career he scored 20 or more goals and in 1996 he was a member of the Amerks’ last Calder Cup championship team.
He was a three-time winner of both the McCulloch Trophy for community service (1989-90, 1994-96) and the V.P. Supply Most Popular Player award (1994-97). He was also a three-time winner of the Executive Club Most Popular Player award (1994-97) and was the co-winner of the honor in 1997-98. In 1988-89 he captured the Rob Zabelny Award as the team’s Unsung Hero.
He began his professional career in 1987-88, playing 16 seasons and 800 regular season games before hanging up his skates in 2001-02. He spent the majority of his career in the AHL, playing in 542 games and registering 377 points and 1,511 penalty minutes.
In his rookie season he was a member of the Edmonton Oilers, playing two games with the NHL club and 43 with its AHL affiliate in Nova Scotia. Midway through the 1987-88 season, however, the Oilers traded Metcalfe to the Buffalo Sabres (along with Edmonton's ninth-round choice in the 1989 Entry Draft, which turned out to be Donald Audette) for rugged defenseman Steve Dykstra.
The Toronto, Ontario, native played 17 games with the Buffalo Sabres and spent the rest of his time in Rochester with the Amerks, playing in 499 regular-season contests and 65 playoff games. Along the way, Metcalfe also made stops in the United Hockey League, ECHL and the German and British hockey leagues.
Class of 2005
Don McSween (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1987-92
Don McSween became the ninth defenseman to enter the Amerks Hall of Fame, joining Al Arbour, Darryl Sly, Don Cherry, Duane Rupp, Steve Kraftcheck, Jim Hofford, John Van Boxmeer and Dave Fenyves.
Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the eighth round (154th overall) of the 1983 National Hockey League Entry Draft, McSween broke into professional hockey in 1987-88 with the Amerks. The Michigan State product played in 63 games that season, which began a career that spanned 14 seasons and 693 professional games.
The defenseman spent the majority of his career with the Amerks – 348 games. He also made stops in San Diego (International Hockey League), Baltimore (American Hockey League), Grand Rapids (IHL), Milwaukee (IHL) and Muskegon (United Hockey League). In addition, he played in 47 NHL games -- nine with the Buffalo Sabres and 38 with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
McSween played five seasons in Rochester and collected the most points ever by a defenseman with 215 (45+170). Known for his class and professionalism, he was the anchor of the Rochester defense from 1987-1992 and in 2005 his name still appeared on the Amerks’ all-time lists for games played (18th - 348) and assists (18th - 170). In his postseason career with Rochester, he was tied for sixth in games played (54), 10th in assists (22) and tied for 12th in points (32). During the 1989-90 season he was named an AHL First Team All-Star with a career-high 16 goals and 59 points in 70 games.
McSween also won numerous team awards. In 1990-91 he was named the Amerks Team MVP and in 1989-90 he was the co-winner of the Amerks McCulloch Trophy for community service. He also won an unprecedented five straight team Defensive Player of the Year awards (1987-92).
During the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons he also split time as the team’s alternate captain and team captain. In 1990-91 he was a key member of the Rochester team that finished with the best record in the AHL, going 45-26-9 with 99 points.
Class of 2004
Dave Fenyves (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1980-87
Dave Fenyves was a member of the Amerks for six seasons, patrolling the blueline from 1980-87. In 2004 his 358 regular-season games were still 16th in team history and his 104 points were 18th among Amerks defensemen. In his career in Rochester he had 20 goals and 84 assists with 379 penalty minutes. He was inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame on February 21, 2004.
In 1986-87 he served as team captain of the Amerks, along with Don Lever. During that season he was a member of the Amerks’ fifth Calder Cup winning team and was the recipient of the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the playoff MVP. He registered three goals and 15 assists in 18 playoff games as the Amerks rallied from a three-games-to-two deficit to defeat the Sherbrooke Canadiens in seven games.
He was a three-time AHL All-Star, earning Second Team All-Star honors in 1986-87 with Rochester and First Team honors the next two seasons with the Hershey Bears. In addition, he won two Calder Cups, the first with Rochester in 1987 and the second with Hershey in 1988.
Fenyves played 14 seasons of professional hockey, spending 206 games in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers and with AHL teams in Rochester and Hershey. In 1987-88 and 1988-89 the Dunnville, Ontario, native received the Eddie Shore Award as the top defenseman in the AHL while playing for Hershey.
In Peterborough he emerged as a serious hockey prospect. He played three years for the legendary Petes, capturing the Memorial Cup in 1979 and representing Canada in the World Junior Championships in 1980. Despite his solid play at the junior level, he was never drafted by any NHL team. He was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Sabres in 1979.
Class of 2003
Dan Frawley (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1990-93; 1995-98
Dan Frawley was a hard-working right winger who was the leader of a core group of veteran players during his six seasons with the Amerks from 1990-93 and 1995-98. He missed only 24 out of 480 regular-season games with Rochester, ranking ninth on the Amerks’ all-time games played list with 456. Frawley scored 95 goals and added 139 assists for 234 points in his Amerks career. His 1,060 penalty minutes rank third all-time for the Amerks’ franchise.
Concluding a stellar National Hockey League career with the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins, Frawley played three seasons with Rochester from 1990 through 1993, helping Rochester reach the Calder Cup finals twice. After retiring for two years, Frawley came back to the Amerks for three more seasons, from 1995 through 1998, helping Rochester win its sixth Calder Cup title during the 1995-96 season.
A clutch playoff performer, Frawley ranks second on the Amerks’ all-time playoff games played list with 80 (second only to Jody Gage’s 81) and is third on the franchise all-time playoff points list with 46.
Ed House (Former Owner)
Rochester Americans Owner, AHL Referee and Linesman
Ed House was part of a group of local Rochester hockey fans who brought the Amerks to the American Hockey League in 1955. A fixture on the local amateur hockey scene, House joined Sam Toth and other area business leaders to secure a formal application to the American Hockey League in 1955. The Rochester Americans began play in the AHL during the 1956-57 season.
A native of Buffalo, House moved to Rochester and immediately sought to begin an amateur hockey club. The Rochester Packers were formed, playing amateur games outdoors at the Genesee Valley Rink and eventually at the new Rochester Community War Memorial for a season. House was a rough and tumble player/coach/manager for the Packers and usually led the club in scoring.
House was also instrumental in starting youth hockey in the area, helping Rochester’s first youth league - the Lions Club - and running summer hockey camps. House remained active in the AHL and with the Amerks as an on-ice official (referee and linesman) for 12 seasons.
Class of 2002
Bob Mongrain (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1979-84
Bob Mongrain captained the Rochester Americans to their fourth Calder Cup championship in 1982-83. Known for his hustle, feisty play and leadership, he played five seasons in Rochester (1979-84).
He ranks 10th on the team’s all-time points list with 339 in 322 games. He also ranks ninth in goals (153) and 13th in assists (186). He never finished lower than fourth on the team in scoring during his tenure with the Amerks from 1979-80 to 1983-84 and was a 20-plus goal scorer for all five seasons with the Amerks. Mongrain captured a career-best 85 points, scoring 41 goals while adding 44 assists in 78 games during the 1983-84 campaign.
His days in Rochester were part of a 12-year professional hockey playing career that also took him to the National Hockey League and to Europe. Born in La Sarre, Quebec, Mongrain was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Sabres after scoring 66 goals for the QMJHL's Trois-Rivieres Draveurs. The offensive specialist played parts of six seasons in the NHL during the 1970s and '80s. During his five years in the Sabres' organization, he appeared in 70 games in the NHL but was chiefly an offensive spark on the AHL's Rochester Americans.
Most of his success came in the more wide-open junior and European leagues. Mongrain joined EC Kloten of Switzerland in 1984-85 and led the league with 46 goals in 38 games the next season. He returned to the NHL for 11 games with the L.A. Kings in 1985-86. Mongrain returned to Switzerland and played five more years before retiring in 1991. After his playing days were over, he served as a coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Class of 2001
Jim Jackson (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1985-90
Jim Jackson played five seasons as a right winger for the Amerks, from 1985-86 through the 1989-90 campaign. The Toronto native played every position for Rochester except goaltender, and he was a renowned penalty-killer and shot blocker during his career. A member of the Amerks’ 1986-87 Calder Cup championship team, Jackson ranked 13th on the club’s all-time games played list with 360 career games at the time of his induction.
Known as a total team player, “JJ” was among the team’s all-time best in points with 298 (93+205). Jackson was a “plus” player in every season as an Amerk, ending his career with a plus/minus rating of plus-51, one of the best in the history of the franchise.
Charlie Mason (War Memorial Employee)
War Memorial Employee, 1955-98
Charlie Mason is best known as the Amerks Zamboni driver but has contributed much more during his 45-year association with the hockey club. “Chaz” has been involved in the operations of the Rochester War Memorial since the building opened in 1955. One of the first employees to be hired to work the building as an electrician, he took on the task as the area’s first “ice-maker” in 1956, the first season of the Rochester Americans.
Mason eventually became the building superintendent until his retirement in 1998, working with a long line of Amerks front office staff, coaches and players. Mason has driven the Zamboni between periods of most Amerk games for all 45 seasons of professional hockey in Rochester.
Class of 2000
Jacques Cloutier (G)
Rochester Americans Goaltender, 1980-86; 1988-89
Jacques Cloutier was a rookie out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when he turned pro with the Amerks in 1980-81 and remained a fixture between the pipes for Rochester for the next decade.
For parts of the next six seasons Cloutier quickly became one of the most popular goalies in franchise history. He recorded a 96-70-13 career record along with a 3.31 goals-against average in 187 regular-season games. His 10,495 minutes played are second only to fellow Hall of Fame netminder Bobby Perreault. His 96 wins rank third on the Amerks’ all-time list among Rochester goaltenders. He also had a 21-13 playoff record and culminated his career with the Amerks with a Calder Cup in 1982-28, just his third season in Rochester.
During his 13-year pro career, Cloutier played in 255 National Hockey League contests, registering an 82-102-24 record with a 3.64 goals-against average with the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks and Quebec Nordiques.
Upon completion of his playing career, Cloutier assumed the assistant coaching responsibilities of the Cornwall Aces, the AHL affiliate of the Nordiques, for two seasons from 1994 to 1996. He then served as the assistant coach of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, winning Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001.
Mal Davis (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1981-86
Mal Davis arrived on the Rochester hockey scene in 1981 and after just five seasons with the Amerks his name was atop the franchise all-time list for goals and points.
The NHL should have been in Davis’ future when he came to the Amerks prior to the 1981-82 season. He terrorized AHL goalies with a deadly wrist shot, scoring an impressive 155 goals and 287 points in only 247 games to finish 16th all-time in the point totals for Rochester.
Despite ranking eighth all-time in goals in club history, Davis played only 100 NHL games for the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres, although he produced 31 goals and 22 assists for 53 points.
Davis shares a record with fellow Hall of Famer Jody Gage for scoring four goals in a single game three times – Feb. 14, 1982; Jan. 2, 1983; and Oct. 5, 1983. A 20-goal scorer in four of his five seasons in Rochester, Davis was named an AHL First Team All-Star after a career-best 103-point performance (55+48) during the 1983-84 season.
Davis left the Amerks after the 1985-86 season to play in Finland. After a brief stint with the Canadian National Team, he helped TPS Turku to three Finnish Elite League championships and finished his career in 1991-92 with Essen, Germany.
John Van Boxmeer (D/Head Coach)
John Van Boxmeer
Rochester Americans defenseman, 1984-85
Rochester Americans Head Coach, 1984-90; 1992-95
John Van Boxmeer was inducted as the Amerks’ all-time winningest coach in franchise history at the time.
In eight and a half seasons behind the bench, his teams went 333-282-75 for 742 points, a .540 winning percentage and reached the Calder Cup finals three times.
“Boxie” guided the Amerks to the team’s fifth Calder Cup Championship in 1986-87, winning Game 7 of the finals at Sherbrooke, but lost to Springfield in 1989-90 and to Cape Breton in 1992-93. Van Boxmeer also led his team to 73 postseason appearances, the most among Amerks bench bosses.
As a player, Van Boxmeer began and ended his 13-year playing career in the American Hockey League with the Novia Scotia Voyageurs and Fredericton Express before appearing in two games with the Amerks in the 1984-85 season. He also totaled 358 points (84+274) over 588 career NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Rockies, Buffalo Sabres and Quebec Nordiques
He returned to the Sabres organization in 2015, spending the next five years as the team’s western scout up until 2020.
Class of 1999
Jody Gage (RW/General Manager)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1985-96
Rochester Americans General Manager, 1996-2009
Rochester Americans Director of Player Personnel, 2009-11
Rochester Americans Director of Strategic Planning, 2011-Present
Jody Gage captured the hearts of the Rochester Americans fans many times throughout his 11-season hockey career with the Amerks as he wore the crest with great pride during that time. After retirement, Gage, a three-time Calder Cup winner, moved to the front office where he remains to this day.
He gained legendary status during a magnificent 17-year playing career in the American Hockey League as one of only three players in league history with more than 500 career goals and over 1,000 career points, including a record seven 40-goal seasons. In 1987-88, he became just the second AHL player ever to score 60 goals in a single season and earned league MVP honors.
He served as the team’s general manager from 1996-2009 and the team’s director of player personnel for another two years before moving onto his current role as the organization’s director of strategic planning.
During Gage’s 13 seasons as the team’s general manager, he saw nine teams reach the finals (three hockey, six lacrosse). The Amerks advanced to the Calder Cup Finals in 1999 and 2000, and he was the Assistant General Manager when the Amerks won the 1996 Calder Cup.
In 1998-99, he won the James C. Hendy Award as the AHL’s outstanding executive. Gage assembled a team that won both the AHL Empire Division Championship and the Western Conference Championship and earned a berth in the 1999 Calder Cup Finals. The 1998-99 Amerks broke franchise records for most wins (52) and most points (111), and league records for fewest goals allowed (176) and fewest road goals allowed (86). In 2004-05 the Amerks rewrote the record books, setting franchise records for points (112) and shutouts (9). That Amerks team also won the regular-season points title, while wrapping up the North Division and Western Conference.
Gage received one of the highest honors of his career in 2006 as he was inducted into the inaugural class of the AHL Hall of Fame. He joined legends Johnny Bower, Jack Butterfield, Fred Glover, Willie Marshall, Frank Mathers and Eddie Shore. The ceremony was conducted at the 2006 Rbk Hockey American Hockey League All-Star Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba (January 31st to February 1st).
Because his name is synonymous with AHL stardom, he was able to acquaint himself quickly with his peers and it did not take long for him to earn a reputation as a well-respected, savvy hockey GM. In his first season Gage's team captured the Amerks’ first division title since the 1990-91 season, making him the first Amerks’ GM to win a division title in his inaugural season.
Gage was involved with three Calder Cup championship teams during his pro career. He was a member of the Adirondack Red Wings Calder Cup team in 1981, the Amerks squad in 1987 and was Rochester's Assistant GM when the Amerks secured their sixth Calder Cup in 1996, having retired during the season due to lingering knee ailments.
Originally a third-round draft selection (45th overall) of the Detroit Red Wings in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto native spent six seasons in the Detroit organization before signing a free-agent contract with the Buffalo Sabres on July 31, 1985. Gage spent the rest of his career in the Sabres and Amerks organizations, signing his final contract with the Amerks on August 23, 1995, just a few months after Steve Donner purchased the Rochester club from Buffalo in June 1995.
Dubbed “Mr. Amerk” during his career in Rochester, Gage finished as the Amerks’ all-time leader in goals, assists, points and games played. He holds the Amerks’ record for game-winning goals in one season (9, 1987-88) and goals/points by a right wing in one season (60/104, 1987-88). Gage is one of just three players to record 500 career AHL goals and 1,000 career AHL points, and his 17 AHL seasons tie him for third in league history.
Some of his other AHL accolades include the 1987-88 AHL MVP award and a berth on the First Team All-Star squad. He also earned AHL First Team All-Star honors following the 1985-86 and 1990-91 seasons, a place on the AHL's All-Time Team in 1992 -- as chosen by the media -- and selection as the U.S. Team Captain for the AHL All-Star Game in 1995. Gage also holds AHL records for the two fastest short-handed goals in one game (8 seconds, 3/25/89), the most 40+ goal seasons (7), and the most playoff goals (51) in AHL history.
On March 19, 1999, Gage and Dick Gamble had their No. 9 retired, joining Norm “Red” Armstrong as the only Amerks players to receive that honor.
Class of 1998
Jim Hofford (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1984-90
Known for his bone-rattling hip checks and gritty defensive play in the Amerks end, Jim Hofford was captain of the Amerks for three seasons. Skating in 319 career games in the red, white and blue, Hofford scored 10 goals and 61 assists for 71 points and stands second all-time in franchise history with 1,212 penalty minutes.
He also holds the single-season record for most penalty minutes by a defenseman with 322, set during the 1987-88 campaign.
Hofford captured a Calder Cup with the Amerks in 1987 and was one of the club’s all-time most popular players – both on and off the ice
Sam Toth (Franchise Organizer)
Rochester Americans Franchise Organizer
If Joe Crozier was considered the “Godfather” of Amerks hockey, then Sam Toth certainly was the “Father” of one of the greatest professional hockey franchises in sports. Toth was one of the founding members of the organization in 1955, and he served in almost every capacity with the Amerks – owner, statesman, off-ice official and even a linesman during games. Toth was also instrumental in jumpstarting youth hockey in the Rochester area.
After the fall of the city’s first professional hockey team, the Rochester Cardinals, in 1935, Toth and fellow Rochesterian and Hall of Famer Ed House combined efforts with Frank Selke and Conn Smythe of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs to bring the Amerks to the Flower City. Rochester was then granted an AHL franchise, using the “Americans” as a pseudonym, following the cease of operations of the Pittsburgh Hornets, who remained dormant until the 1961-62 season when the league announced plans for expansion.
Thirteen years following his enshrinement into the prestigious Rochester Americans’ Hall of Fame, Toth can now find his name among other iconic figures in Rochester sports history with his induction into Frontier Field’s Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame is dedicated to those individuals whose endless contributions have shaped the landscape for Rochester’s local sports scene, making it what it is today.
As part of the Class of 2011, Toth became the 16th member of the Amerks family to receive a brick in the Walk of Fame, joining past Amerk greats such as former team captain and Rochester native Rory Fitzpatrick (Class of 2010), the 1964-68 Amerk teams (Class of 2006); Jim Hofford, Don Stevens and Hans Tanner (Class of 2003); Dick Gamble (Class of 2000); Don Cherry (Class of 1999); Red Armstrong and Geordie Robertson (Class of 1998); and Joe Crozier and Jody Gage (Class of 1997).
Class of 1996
Jim Pappin (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1960-68
Jim Pappin scored many goals for the Amerks, 157 to be exact, but the ones he may be most remembered for in Rochester are the two that clinched the Calder Cup in 1965 and 1966. In all, Pappin recorded five game-winning goals during the 1965 and 1966 Calder Cup playoffs while leading the postseason in goals scored.
He played eight seasons in Rochester and scored 134 goals (11th Amerks all-time) in 275 regular-season games. His 258 points place him 17th on the Amerks all-time list
Bill Givens (Broadcaster)
Rochester Americans Broadcaster, 1964-72
Bill Givens was the second broadcaster for the Amerks, having served as the “Voice of the Amerks” for eight seasons between 1964-72. He began his career in the mid 1960s, covering the Amerks’ first Calder Cup championship teams.
As the play-by-play on-air talent for close to a decade, Givens played a vital part in keeping the Amerks and professional hockey in Rochester.
He also helped coax fellow Amerks Hall of Famer Don Cherry out of retirement after a two-year hiatus, enabling the fans of Rochester to enjoy many more memorable moments.
Class of 1994
Mike Keenan (Head Coach)
Rochester Americans Head Coach, 1980-83
Although just the fifth coach in the Amerks Hall of Fame, Keenan is one of the most celebrated. His tenure in Rochester was relatively short, but the results Keenan accomplished in just three seasons were impressive. He became the second coach in Amerks history to guide a team to the Calder Cup and the first to top the 100-point plateau since the inaugural Calder Cup team of 1964-65. Keenan’s 116 wins as an Amerks coach is third all-time.
After his tenure in Rochester was over, Keenan made the jump to the National Hockey League where he would lead the Philadelphia Flyers to four consecutive postseason appearances from 1984-88. Under his reign, the Flyers would clinch the Patrick Division three out of the four years and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985 and 1987.
After leaving his post as bench boss in Philadelphia, Keenan took the head coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks for the next four seasons (1988-92) where he guided the team to two Norris Division championships and back-to-back trips to the Westerns Conference Finals.
After a year-long hiatus from coaching, Keenan returned in the 1993-94 season as the head coach of the New York Rangers and led the Blue Shirts, captained by NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier, to the 1994 Stanley Cup championship. That Stanley Cup championship would be the last and only of Keenan’s career as a head coach in the NHL.
Since winning hockey’s holy grail 15 years ago with the Rangers, Keenan has served behind the bench with the St. Louis Blues (1994-97), Vancouver Canucks (1997-99), Boston Bruins (2000-01), Florida Panthers (2001-04) and most recently, the Calgary Flames (2007-09). In his 25-year career as an NHL head coach, Keenan has amassed a 672-531-183 record (1,429 points) in 1,386 career games. Additionally, he has compiled a 96-75 record in 171 postseason contests.
Class of 1993
Steve Kraftcheck (D/Head Coach)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1958-62
Steve Kraftcheck played five seasons with the Amerks between 1958 and 1962. His Rochester career consisted of 268 games played, 10 goals and 156 assists, which were good for 166 points. The slick-skating defenseman also accounted for 160 penalty minutes, which ranked fifth all-time among Amerks defensemen in scoring at the time of his induction.
Among his accolades as a player were American Hockey League first team All-Star in 1958-59 and 1959-60, AHL second team All-Star in 1960-61 and the inaugural Eddie Shore Award after being voted the league’s most outstanding defenseman in 1959. The former Amerks captain did not limit his leadership role to the ice, however, and continued his association with Rochester as head coach from 1959-61.
During the 1959-60 campaign, Kraftcheck served as player/coach of the Amerks and led them to the Calder Cup Finals, highlighted by a historic comeback from 3-0 down to win their best-of-seven semifinal series against the Cleveland Barons. As the Amerks’ bench boss, he accumulated a record of 75-66-11, which was once sixth among Amerk coaches in winning percentage (.567).
Kraftcheck finished his career with the Providence Reds, retiring in 1964 as the AHL’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 453 career points, a standard that stood for more than 40 years. He played in five AHL all-star games in the 1950s and is one of three players in league history to have earned six consecutive selections to postseason All-Star teams – four First Teams and two Second Team.
A native of Tinturn, Ontario, Kraftcheck died in 1997 at the age of 68 and was posthumously inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame oin 2008.
Geordie Robertson (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1979-85; 1988-89
Geordie Robertson was a high-scoring center from 1979-85 and 1988-89. His name is prominent in the Rochester record book for games played (359), goals (164), assists (231), points (395), and penalty minutes (419).
He earned the nickname “Mr. Amerk” from the media and the fans, due in large part to his best season as a pro in 1983. That year he led the Amerks to their first Calder Cup championship in 15 years and along the way set Rochester records for most points in a season (119) and most assists in a season (73).
He also set the record for most assists in a game (6) and most points in a game (7), which he set on December 26, 1983.
Al Deeth (Linesman/Off-Ice Official)
AHL Linesman, 1956-57
AHL Off-Ice Official
Al Deeth never played a game for the Red, White and Blue, but was instrumental in keeping the Amerks, and hockey in general, alive and well in Rochester.
He was a linesman for Amerks home games in their inaugural season of 1956-57 and continued his association with the Amerks from 1960-83 as an off-ice official and statistician at the War Memorial. He also was a major contributor to amateur hockey in Rochester, beginning with the formation of the Webster High School hockey team in 1971.
As a goodwill ambassador for hockey in general, Deeth’s career was culminated by being the press coordinator for hockey at the Olympics in 1980, best known for the “Miracle on Ice.”
Class of 1992
Ron Garwasiuk (LW)
Rochester Americans Left Wing, 1974-80
Ron Garwasiuk played in 340 games from the 1974-75 season through the 1979-80 campaign. The high-scoring left wing finished his playing career with 130 goals (12th all-time) and 178 assists (12th all-time), good for 308 points and 10th on the all-time scoring list.
Garwasiuk came to Rochester in 1974 and played 67 games as a rookie. He was a hit from the start, combining a knack for scoring with a feisty attitude. He amassed 68 points and 141 penalty minutes that year.
Garwasiuk was named to the American Hockey League’s Second All-Star Team in 1976-77 when he netted 32 goals and 42 assists, good for 74 points in 66 games. He finished second to Amerks Hall of Fame member Doug Gibson in scoring that year.
Garwasiuk’s best statistical season in Rochester came in 1977-78 when he notched 29 goals and 51 assists, totaling 80 points in 78 games. His point total was the third highest on the 1977-78 squad, but his 174 penalty minutes was a team high that year. For his career, Garwasiuk ranks sixth on the Amerks all-time penalty minutes list with 655.
Class of 1991
George Bergantz (General Manager)
Rochester Americans General Manager, 1979-88
George Bergantz was the founder of the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame.
As the Amerks General Manager, Bergantz turned Rochester into a perennial leader at the turnstiles in the AHL, including six straight number-one finishes in the mid-80s.
During his tenure in Rochester the Amerks won two Calder Cups and he received the James C. Hendy Award for his outstanding contributions to the AHL.
Duane Rupp (D/Head Coach)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1963-67; 1975-77
Rochester Americans Head Coach, 1976-79
An important part of the teams that brought the Rochester Americans their first two Calder Cups, Duane Rupp’s achievements in Rochester were not limited to his playing days. As a defenseman, Rupp was a two-time Second Team All-Star, while his coaching career included a Southern Division title. Best known as a solid defensive player, Rupp totaled 140 points in 255 games with Rochester.
Class of 1990
Barry Merrell (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1972-77
Barry Merrell played in 320 games with the Amerks from the 1972-73 season through the 1976-77 campaign. The high-scoring center finished his playing career with 134 goals and 187 assists, good for 321 points.
Merrell burst onto the scene in 1972 and as a first-year Amerk, led the team in scoring with 32 goals and 40 assists, good for 72 points in 74 games. He finished second on the team in scoring for the next three years, notching 87 points in 1973-74, 85 in 1974-75, and 69 in 1975-76. His final season was in 1976-77, when he had eight points in 27 games.
Merrell’s finest season in Rochester was in 1973-74, where he notched a career high 87 points as the Amerks won the North Division with a 42-21-13 record and finished with 97 points, tops in the American Hockey League.
Merrell finished among the top 10 scorers in the American Hockey League in three of his five seasons with the Rochester Americans. He finished fifth overall in both the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons.
Class of 1989
Gordie Clark (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1974-78
Gordie Clark played in 270 games with the Rochester Americans from the 1974-75 season through the 1977-78 campaign. The high-scoring right wing finished his playing career with 123 goals and 179 assists, good for 302 points and 11th on the all-time scoring list.
Clark helped lead the Amerks to the Calder Cup finals in 1976-77, and was named team captain in 1977-78. He was a two-time second team AHL all-star and led the team in scoring in 1975-76 with 30 goals and 49 assists.
His best season as an Amerk came in 1977-78, when he collected 37 goals and 51 assists for a career-high 88 points.
He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was drafted by the Boston Bruins.
Doug Gibson (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1974-77
Despite playing only three seasons with the Americans, Doug Gibson was one of the most honored and distinguished players to ever wear the red, white and blue.
Gibson won the Les Cunningham Plaque as the American Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player in 1974-75 and 1976-77, and remains the only Amerk to win the award twice. He was a First Team AHL All-Star in both those seasons. He also won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy in 1974-75 as the AHL’s leading scorer and was named the Minor League Player of the Year by The Hockey News later that same year. His 116-point effort in the 1974-75 season was an Amerks record at the time.
A tremendous playmaker, Gibson ranked 16th on the Amerks all-time goals list with 96, 15th on the assists list with 148, and 16th overall with 244 points at the time. He was a third-round draft pick of the Bruins in 1973.
Class of 1988
John Den Hamer (Operations Director)
John Den Hamer
Rochester Americans Director of Operations, 1972-79
John Den Hamer served as the Director of Operations for the Rochester Americans from 1972 until 1979. He wore many hats in the Amerks front office, as publicity director, business manager and office manager. Den Hamer came to the Amerks in 1972 when the team was sold to Rochester-area businessmen, and he worked closely with Coach Don Cherry to secure players for the Amerks’ independent club of 1972-73.
Den Hamer then helped the locally owned club into a working relationship with the Boston Bruins from 1973-74 until 1978-79.
When Den Hamer took over the front office for the Amerks in 1972-73, the club’s attendance ranked ninth in the AHL the season before. In two years, Den Hamer made Rochester the No.1 draw in the American Hockey League, and under his leadership, the team drew more than 200,000 people into the War Memorial in 1973-74, the first time in the history of the franchise.
During Den Hamer’s seven-year tenure, the Amerks captured the division title twice and went to the Calder Cup finals once in 1976-77. Some great names in Rochester hockey history played during Den Hamer’s reign in the front office, players like Rick Pagnutti, Murray Kuntz, Art Stratton, Doug Gibson, Gordie Clark, Bob Ellett, Ron Garwasuik and Rick Adduono. Coaches Don Cherry, Dick Mattiussi and Duane Rupp all worked closely with John Den Hamer.
After a stint as General Manager of the Syracuse Firebirds in 1979-80, Den Hamer returned to Rochester.
Les Duff (LW)
Rochester Americans Left Wing, 1963-70
Les Duff was a winger for the Rochester Americans during their heyday from 1963 until 1970. The tough forward played seven seasons, totaling 48 goals, 91 assists and 139 points.
At the time, Duff ranked eighth in the American Hockey League in career games played (928), 399 of those for Rochester. He currently ranks 11th on the Amerks’ career games played list and is 56th on the all-time scoring list, although his contributions to the team went beyond the score sheet.
Under Coach Joe Crozier, Duff was a member of the three Calder Cup teams in the mid-60s. His best season as an Amerk was in 1964-65 when he had 11 goals and 30 assists, along with a team-leading 128 penalty minutes to lead Rochester to its first Calder Cup championship. Perhaps his biggest goal was in the 1967-68 finals against the Quebec Aces when he scored the game-winner in overtime to send the series back to Quebec the next night and clinch the Calder Cup championship that year.
A native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Duff played for the Hershey Bears for seven seasons and one year for Pittsburgh prior to coming to the Amerks. The 5-10, 175-pound winger was best known for his defensive ability and corner work. He teamed with Wally Boyer, forming one of the best penalty-killing tandems in the AHL.
Robert W. Clarke (Franchise Organizer)
Robert W. Clarke
Rochester Americans Franchise Organizer
Robert W. Clarke was associated with the Rochester Americans since their beginning with the American Hockey League in 1956. Clarke, along with Fred Forman and Morrie Silver, contacted Jim Hendy, the owner of the Cleveland Barons, in 1956 to inquire about a franchise.
As a result, a group of Rochester businessmen became owners of 45 percent of the club, and the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs each became owners of 27.5 percent of the stock of the Rochester Americans Hockey Club, which Bob Clarke organized. “Hap” Day was appointed governor and Clarke was named alternate governor of the franchise.
In 1965 Clarke became the principal owner and governor of the Amerks until 1968, when the club was sold to Vancouver. During that period Rochester captured three Calder Cups under Coach Joe Crozier and was a finalist the other year. Clarke became Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Hockey League in 1968. He has served on the constitutional committee and the player relations committee.
When Vancouver re-sold the team back to the Rochester individuals in 1972, Clarke became part owner and director of the Western New York Hockey Club from 1972 to 1977. When the club was sold to the Buffalo Sabres in 1984, Clarke once again became a director of the club, and continued in that capacity.
Clarke received the James Hendy Award for his outstanding contribution to the AHL in 1971-72. He was also presented the Gold Skate award in February of 1986 for 30 years of service to the Rochester Americans and the American Hockey League.
Stan Smrke (LW)
Rochester Americans Left Wing, 1957-58; 1959-67
The high-scoring left winger played in nine seasons for the Amerks, spanning 1957-58, 1959-67. Stan Smrke played on two Calder Cup championship teams in the mid-60s. He still holds the Amerks’ single-season record for the most assists by a left winger (59 in 1964-65).
Smrke was a First-Team All-Star left wing in 1959-60, the same year he led Rochester in scoring with 40 goals and 36 assists. His best season was in 1964-65, when he was second in scoring to Bronco Horvath with 33 goals and 59 assists for 92 points. That year the Amerks captured their first Calder Cup championship.
At the time of his induction Smrke was fourth on the Amerks list of all-time games played (513), goals (197), assists (239) and points (436). He was in good company, with the likes of fellow Hall-of-Famers Dick Gamble, Bronco Horvath, Gerry Ehman and Red Armstrong.
During the 1956-57 and 1957-58 seasons, Smrke played nine NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, notching three assists. Although a high-scoring winger, Smrke was the strong, silent type who was also a great defensive player.
A native of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Stan Smrke retired from hockey in September of 1967, and died of cancer in April, 1977.
Class of 1987
Gerry Cheevers (G)
Rochester Americans Goaltender, 1961-65
In just four years, Gerry Cheevers set virtually every Amerks career goalie record imaginable. His finest was the 1964-65, campaign when he appeared in all 72 games, an Amerks and AHL record. That season he also established Amerks team marks for minutes played (4,359), wins (48) and lowest goals-against average (2.68) en route to delivering Rochester its first of six Calder Cup championships. He earned the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award as the AHL’s best goaltender and was a First-Team All-Star.
He ranks second all-time among Rochester netminders behind fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Perreault with 101 career wins, and is one of two goalies to reach the 100-win plateau.
After a brief two-game NHL stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1961-62, Cheevers went on to establish himself among the top goalies in the NHL, manning the pipes for the Boston Bruins for 11 seasons (1966-72; 1975-80).
After his retirement, Cheevers became Boston’s head coach the following season, leading the Bruins to four consecutive playoff berths from 1980-1984. He left his post at the conclusion of the 1984-85 season, but returned to Boston as the goaltending coach during the 2002-03 campaign before retiring from coaching later that season.
Don Cherry (D/Head Coach/General Manager)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1963-69; 1971-72
Rochester Americans Head Coach, 1972-74
Rochester Americans General Manager, 1972-74
A hard-nosed defenseman, Don Cherry strung together seven steady seasons on the Rochester blueline, although he was often overshadowed by his more well-known teammates.
His 390 games rank 11th all-time. However, Cherry’s efforts as a Head Coach and General Manager are legendary. Cherry helped restore pride to the Amerks franchise in his off-ice roles, earning the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL Coach of the Year in 1973-74, his final season behind the Amerks bench.
That propelled Cherry to a five-year stint as head coach of the Boston Bruins, leading the team to five straight playoff appearances, including back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1977 and 1978. He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's Coach of the Year for the 1975-76 season after leading the Bruins to a 48-15-17 record during the regular season.
Cherry was a member of Rochester’s dynasty in the early years of the franchise that won three Calder Cup in a four-year span, capturing the AHL’s top prize in 1965, 1966 and again in 1968 .
He also spent time in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears, Springfield Indians and was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2019.
Gerry Ehman (RW)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1960-67
A hustling right winger who played well at both ends of the ice, Gerry Ehman played in Rochester for seven seasons (1960-67). Ehman scored 30 or more goals for the Amerks in six of his seven seasons, missing the other year just one goal shy. He also totaled 85-plus points in three consecutive seasons.
Overall, Ehman is third all-time in Amerks goals (237), third in assists (283) and fourth in points (520). His 465 games played is eighth all-time in team history. Ehman earned All-Star selections three times.
A 20-goal scorer in all seven seasons played in Rochester, the three-time AHL All-Star helped guide the Amerks to back-to-back Calder Cup championships in 1965 and 1966, the first two of six league titles Rochester captured.
Charter Class of 1986
Joe Crozier (Head Coach/General Manager)
Rochester Americans Head Coach, 1963-68, 1983-84
Rochester Americans General Manager, 1964-69
Joe Crozier made his first stop in Rochester in 1963, and since that time, the “Golden Age” of the Flower City’s franchise has been synonymous with his name. In the fall of 1963, “the Crow,” as he is known in hockey circles, turned a team that had finished a dismal 24-39-9 just the year before into a 40-30-2 team that finished second in the Western Division of the AHL, just one point behind Pittsburgh.
The next year, he led the Amerks to a first-place finish in the West and brought Rochester its first Calder Cup championship, a feat he repeated the next year as well. Crozier experienced a minor setback in 1966-67 when his club lost in the semifinals but rebounded in a big way the next year with another first-place finish and his third Calder Cup in four years.
Crow, who had bought into the club as a part-owner, sold his portion of the Amerks in 1968 to a faction from Vancouver and left to coach the Canucks in the Western Hockey League. After coaching stints in Cincinnati, Buffalo, New Brunswick and Toronto, Crozier made a triumphant return to Rochester in 1983-84, leading the Amerks to the Calder Cup finals once again.
In six memorable years as coach of the Rochester Americans, Crozier compiled a record of 260-155-30, making him the winningest coach at the time. He is one of only six head coaches to win at least three Calder Cups, and only Fred “Bun” Cook has won more Calder Cups (seven).
In the 56-year history of the Rochester Americans, Crozier ranks third all-time in coaching victories and first in points percentage among Amerks coaches with more than 100 victories. In addition to winning three Calder Cups as Amerks head coach, Crozier also posted a 39-27 record in the postseason, guiding Rochester to a berth in the finals in five of his six years behind the bench. He was a charter member of the Amerks Hall of Fame in 1986.
He was later inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame on January 30, 2012 as part of the Class of 2012.
Norm "Red" Armstrong (D)
Norm "Red" Armstrong
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1962-71; 1972-73
One of the most popular players in team history, Armstrong was a fixture of Rochester hockey for parts of 10 seasons. Loved by fans for his tireless hustle and huge heart, Armstrong was among the career leaders in nearly every all-time Amerks category, including first in penalty minutes (983) and second in games played (566) at the time.
Known as “The People’s Choice” for his popular style of play, Armstrong came to Rochester in 1962-63 and played in parts or all of the next eight seasons. Like Horvath, Dick Gamble and Darryl Sly, Armstrong played on all three of Joe Crozier’s Calder Cup winners in Rochester. After a brief hiatus with Springfield and Baltimore, Red returned to the Amerks in 1972-73 and served as captain for Don Cherry’s cast of misfits that revitalized hockey in Rochester.
His best professional season came in 1969-70, when he led the Amerks in scoring with 75 points. He died at the age of 35 in a construction accident in Sault Ste. Marie.
He was the first player ever to have his jersey retired by the Amerks. His number “6” was hung from the War Memorial rafters at the start of the 1985-86 season.
Bronco Horvath (C)
Rochester Americans Center, 1956-57; 1962-70
Bronco Horvath arrived on the Rochester hockey scene in the inaugural season of 1956-57. Horvath was the team’s first scoring leader, with 37 goals and 44 assists in just 56 games that season to become the first Amerks center, and ultimately the first Amerks Hall of Famer, to be named to the AHL’s first All-Star Team.
The following summer the slick centerman was drafted from the roster of the parent Montreal Canadiens by the Boston Bruins, where he played for the next four seasons. It was in Boston where Horvath enjoyed his finest NHL season, finishing second to rising Chicago star Bobby Hull in the league scoring race with 80 points, just one fewer than Hull despite playing in two fewer games.
Horvath returned to Rochester in 1962-63 and stayed for the next eight seasons, finishing out his playing career with the Amerks in 1969-70.
At the time, his 542 points were second only to Dick Gamble in club history. A tremendous playmaker whose soft touch made him a magician with the puck, Horvath owned the career mark for assists with 343. His 484 career assists rank him 10th in all-time league history.
He was later inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015.
Dick Gamble (RW/Head Coach/General Manager)
Rochester Americans Right Wing, 1961-70
Rochester Ammericans Head Coach, 1968-71
Rochester Americans General Manager, 1968-71
A quick, booming and heavy shot helped catapult Dick Gamble to the top of the Rochester Americans all-time scoring chart at the time of his induction.
He held virtually all of Rochester's scoring records until they were later broken by fellow Amerks Hall of Famer Jody Gage. To this day, Gamble still ranks second in franchise history in goals (300), points (565) and games played (569) and fifth all-time in assists (265).
Besides a nine-year tour of duty as a player, Gamble also served the franchise as a coach during the era of Vancouver ownership in the late 1960s and early 70s.
Only once in his eight full seasons in Rochester did the sharp-shooting right wing ever fail to reach the 30-goal mark. His skills helped him to NHL stints with Montreal, Chicago and Toronto.
Gamble’s finest year with the Amerks came in 1965-66 when he scored 47 goals and added a career-high 51 assists for 98 points (another career high). For his efforts, the three-time AHL All- Star took the American Hockey League scoring championship and Most Valuable Player Trophy while helping the Amerks and Joe Crozier to their second consecutive Calder Cup title.
A 20-goal scorer in all eight seasons played in Rochester, Gamble is part of the first three of the Amerks’ six Calder Cup championships. Gamble is still ranked fourth in AHL history with 468 goals and fifth with 892 points, respectively.
On March 19, 1999, Gamble and Gage had their No. 9 retired, joining Norm “Red” Armstrong as the only players in team history to receive that honor. He was later inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame in 2007.
Al Arbour (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1962-67
Most well-known for his coaching genius that led the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships, Arbour’s skills as a player are obscured by his triumphs behind the bench.
Known as a defensive defenseman, Arbour’s talents helped him to a long NHL as he played in parts of 11 seasons with Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and Toronto. A winner at every level and facet of professional hockey, Arbour was a member of three Stanley Cup and two Calder Cup teams during his playing days. His career with the Amerks spanned five seasons, from 1962-63 to 1966-67.
A fearless shot-blocker, Arbour made up for his lack of speed with intelligence. In 1964-65, the American Hockey League honored Arbour with the Eddie Shore Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s finest defenseman.
Arbour was also a rarity during his playing days, a professional hockey player who wore glasses on the ice.
Bobby Perreault (G)
Rochester Americans Goaltender, 1956-57; 1962-63; 1965-69
Bobby Perreault, who tended the Amerks’ nets for six seasons, held club records for most games played by a goaltender (205) and most shutouts (16) at the time of his induction.
Despite his talents in the crease, the always jovial Perreault perhaps is better remembered for his trait of kissing the ring he wore on his glove hand after coming up with a big save.
Perreault’s goaltending skills were always evident. In 1955, while in the Quebec League, Perreault won the Vezina Memorial Trophy after collecting 10 shutouts and posting a sparkling 2.23 goals against average. Twice he was awarded the Harry Holmes Trophy as the AHL’s top goaltender, the last time being in 1967-68 while with the Amerks after posting a six-shutout performance that year, the second best in a single season in franchise history.
In 1956-57, Perreault led the expansion Rochester Americans to the Calder Cup finals, a feat unheard of for a new franchise. In the playoff semifinals, Perreault blanked the regular season champion Providence Reds twice in their own rink, out-dueling the legendary Johnny Bower.
Overall, Perreault tossed seven shutouts for the Amerks in playoff competition. Perreault culminated his tenure in Rochester by backstopping the Amerks to their second and third Calder Cup championships in 1965-66 and then again in 1967-68.
He remains first all-time among Amerks goaltenders with 108 career wins and fifth in league history with 229 wins.
Perreault was inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame in 2014.
Darryl Sly (D)
Rochester Americans Defenseman, 1960-68; 1970-71; 1972-74
One of the most effective blueliners in Amerks history, Darryl Sly wore an Amerks sweater for parts of 11 seasons, collecting 183 points. His 517 games played are fourth all-time in franchise history and are the most for any defenseman, a record that will probably never be broken.
Sly’s ability earned him some NHL experience with Toronto, Minnesota and Vancouver.
Sly is part of three of the Amerks’ six Calder Cup championships, helping Rochester to its first three league titles in 1965, 1966 and again in 1968.
Hans Tanner (Reporter/Historian)
Rochester Americans Reporter/Historian, 1956-77
The original Amerks hockey writer for the Democrat and Chronicle, Hans Tanner covered Rochester’s AHL hockey team from its inception in 1956 to the conclusion of the 1976-77 season, when he retired to devote more time to his antiques business in Livingston County.
He even served as the official statistician for the AHL. Tanner never missed a home game while covering the Amerks during that period.
In 1966, Tanner was awarded the AHL’s Ellery Award for his coverage of the Amerks and the AHL.