Amerks throttle the Monsters in Buffalo

Justin Bailey plays his best game of the season with two goals in the win

Brayton Wilson
November 08, 2018 - 6:33 am

Photo: Micheline Michaelina - Rochester Americans

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The Rochester Americans made their annual trip down Interstate 90 on Wednesday night to play in front of the Buffalo fan base at KeyBank Center against the Cleveland Monsters in a key North Division matchup.

The Amerks continued their strong play in front of the Buffalo faithful as they dominate the Monsters in the final 50 minutes of play to take a 5-2 win and improve to 9-3-1-0 on the season. Forwards Justin Bailey and Wayne Simpson each scored a pair of goals for the Amerks, while defenseman Zach Redmond scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

It wasn't a pretty start for the Amerks as the Monsters got the early jump with some quality chances on goalie Scott Wedgewood. At one point near the halfway point of the first period, Cleveland out-shot the Amerks 7-2, but then the tide turned as Rochester finally got their feet under them and started to utilize its speed.

Bailey played his best game of the season on Wednesday in front of his hometown crowd. The 23-year-old played his game of speed, power and skill throughout the night, and used his assets to score his first goal of the season. Bailey chased down a puck flipped down the ice by defenseman Taylor Fedun, sped down the right wing, and put a shot off the back bar behind goalie Jean-Francois Berube.

In the second period, Bailey used his speed again to beat out everyone in a Cleveland jersey to a loose puck, including the goalie, and then spun around and slid the puck through the five-hole for his second goal of the night.

Bailey ended his night with two goals and a team-high seven shots on goal while playing on a line with Alex Nylander and Sean Malone.

Zach Redmond netted his team-leading ninth goal of the season in the final minute of the first as he found a way to get the puck through a screen in front of Berube and into the net. The 30-year-old defensmen is now the team-leader in points with 17 points in 13 played.

First-year Amerks forward Wayne Simpson netted the other two goals in the third period. The first came off a beautiful play from C.J. Smith as he forces a turnover in the offensive zone, takes the puck around the Cleveland net, and then slings a pass to Simpson, who was wide open to the right of Berube. Simpson's second goal came as he cut through the middle of the ice and to the right wing, then fired a quick shot over the blocker-side shoulder of Berube to give Rochester a 5-1 lead.

It was another productive night for Smith as he had his lone assist, but was very aggressive on the forecheck and creating scoring chances for his linemates. The 24-year-old continues to impress with his improved speed and his smart play in all three zones. He continues to show that he is ready to make the jump to the National Hockey League when ready, but he will have to be patient for the time being.

Another player who played his best game of the season was rookie Andrew Oglevie. The 23-year-old skated on the fourth line with Eric Cornel and Dalton Smith, but was skating hard and creating chances by using his speed throughout the night. He ended the night with three shots on goal and a plus-1 rating.

Rasmus Asplund's game in North America continues to grow as the 20-year-old has played very well on a line with Victor Olofsson and Danny O'Regan. Asplund created a couple of chances for himself on Wednesday, and continues to show progression in his transition every game. He's also getting a ton of ice time in any and all situations as he's quickly earning the trust of Taylor. He many not put up the production in terms of points, but his work on the ice stands out.

Another young Swede who's game continues to stand out every night is Lawrence Pilut. The 22-year-old defenseman picked up his 14th assist and 16th point of the season on Simpson's second goal of the night, and continues to show off his quick transitional game and exceptional puck-moving abilities. Pilut is currently getting a ton of quality ice time playing on the top defensive pairing, which has also been paramount for his development.

Malone returned to the lineup on Wednesday in Buffalo after suffering a knee injury in the first preseason game while with the Sabres. The 23-year-old picked up two assists in his return, and provided the Amerks with some solid two-way play down the middle. He was Rochester's most consistent player last season from start to finish with 22 points in 73 games.

The Amerks were without defenseman Brendan Guhle on Wednesday night as he was battling a sickness earlier in the week.

Rochester also lost Olofsson in the win as he left after the second period with a lower-body injury. Head coach Chris Taylor didn't seem too concerned about the injury following the game, and said that he would be re-evaluated on Thursday.

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