Amerks: February in review

An 8-4-1 month of February helps keep Rochester atop the North Division

Brayton Wilson
March 16, 2019 - 12:32 pm

Photo: Micheline Michaelina - Rochester Americans


It was another outstanding month for the Rochester Americans as the team won eight of 13 games and continued to remain atop the tightly-contested North Division.

As of March 1, the Amerks were 34-17-3-2 with 73 points, and led the Syracuse Crunch by two points in the standings. However, the Crunch still had two games in hand on the Amerks, and put up a decent month of February themselves with an 8-3-2-0 record in 13 games.

Entering the month of February, the Amerks were riding a six-game point streak, but still unable to put together more than two wins in a row.

Rochester started the month with a big, come from behind road win over the Binghamton Devils at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. After falling behind 2-0 just 20-seconds in the second period, Yannick Veilleux started the comeback with a shorthanded goal to cut the Binghamton lead to 2-1. Just 3:45 later, another fourth line depth player chipped in to tie the game as Tyler Randell tipped in a point shot from Brendan Guhle and in past goalie Cory Schneider. The game remained tied heading into the third period until the Devils got penalized for a high stick with 1:46 remaining. That set the stage for Victor Olofsson, who fired a wrist shot over the glove of Schneider for the game-winning goal with 1:01 remaining in regulation.

The win as a relief for goalie Adam Wilcox, who managed to grab his first win for the Amerks since December 15, snapping a skid of losses in five straight games.

The next night, the Amerks traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to take on the Wolf Pack and continued their success away from Blue Cross Arena. With two goals each from C.J. Smith and Eric Cornel, the Amerks grabbed a 4-1 win as Jonas Johansson stopped 34 of 35 shots faced to earn his fourth win of the season in his fifth game with the Amerks.

With a chance to win their third straight game, the Amerks returned home to face Syracuse in the first of three games against their division foes in February. Despite Taylor Leier scoring the game's first goal in the first period, a Cory Conacher goal in the third period tied the game at 1-1 and eventually forced overtime. After the five minutes of overtime passed, both teams went to a shootout, where the Crunch needed just two rounds to down the Amerks by a 2-1 score.

With the loss, however, the Amerks were able to pick up another point in the standings, earning themselves a point in nine consecutive games.

The Amerks looked to make it a 10-game point streak just two nights later as the Springfield Thunderbirds came to town on Hall of Fame night. On that night, the Amerks honored Steve Langdon and Doug Janik (current assistant coach with the Thunderbirds) as the newest members to the Amerks Hall of Fame. In addition, Rochester donned their 1996 throwback jerseys, worn when the team last won the Calder Cup.

The game ended up being all Rochester as Olofsson netted his first career hat-trick in North America in a 7-1 drubbing of the Thunderbirds. This came after Springfield throttled the Amerks by a 9-4 score back in November at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In an effort to make it 11 straight games with a point, the Amerks went out on the road to face the Utica Comets at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica. However, their point streak would be snapped as the Comets got a hat-trick from Reid Boucher in a 5-2 loss. The Amerks started out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Wayne Simpson and Olofsson, but things fell apart in the second period as Utica scored three goals in a 58-second span to take the lead. Boucher then added two more goals in the third period to complete his hat-trick and seal the fate of the Amerks in Utica.

Three nights after that in Cleveland, Ohio, the Amerks suffered another 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. This time, the Amerks entered the third period tied at 1-1 after Remi Elie scored his first goal with the Amerks early in the second period. However, the Monsters went on to put up four goals on the Amerks in the third, with two goals from Vitaly Abramov, followed by Kole Sherwood's second goal of the game to make it 4-1. Simpson added another goal to cut the deficit to 4-2, but the effort was too little, too late.

Rochester returned home to host the Crunch in the first game of a home-and-home series, but ended up suffering a third straight loss in a low-scoring affair. The game's only goal came off the stick of Crunch forward Andy Andreoff in the first period, while goalie Connor Ingram earned his sixth shutout of the season with a 32-save effort.

However, the Amerks bounced back the next night at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse with a 3-2 shootout win over the Crunch. Rochester got goals from Elie and Will Borgen, but the Amerks surrendered the lead twice as the Crunch ended up forcing overtime on home ice. In the shootout, neither team could find the back of the net until the sixth round of shooters. After Syracuse's Ross Colton failed to score in the top of the round, Leier scored in the bottom of the round to end the Amerks' three-game losing streak.

In addition to snapping the losing streak, the win helped put the Amerks back atop the North Division after the Crunch had tied things up in the standings in the game prior.

The Amerks closed out the three-day weekend back at the friendly confines of Blue Cross Arena with another matchup with the Devils. This time, the Amerks had nothing much to worry about as they cruised to a 5-1 win over the Devils for their fourth win over Binghamton this season. The Amerks took firm control early with goals in the first period from Simpson and Veilleux, followed by goals from Andrew Oglevie and Elie in the second period, and a third period goal from Andrew MacWilliam. 

With a chance to finally earn three straight wins since early December, the Amerks hosted the Monsters once again on home ice. After falling behind late in the second period by a 2-1 score, the game changed when Danny O'Regan scored a power play goal with 1:42 to go in the period. In the third, Rochester took the lead as Taylor Leier scored the go-ahead goal with 13:45 to go. Wedgewood stayed solid to close the game, and ended up with 29 saves on 31 shots faced to earn his 100th career pro win. Simpson added an empty net goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

The Amerks managed to string the win streak to four games as Rochester overcame a 3-0 deficit to the Utica Comets and force overtime. In overtime, it was Zach Redmond who fired a one-time slap shot on the power play to give the Amerks the win at the Adirondack Bank Center. Olofsson, Simpson and Elie all scored for the Amerks in the second period after Utica scored three second period goals of their own.

Rochester's four-game streak was snapped the following night back at Blue Cross Arena as the stingy Belleville Senators picked up their third win of the season over the Amerks. Sean Malone and Oglevie helped give the Amerks a 2-1 lead nearly halfway through the hockey game, but Belleville responded with four unanswered goals to grab the lead and run away with it heading into the late stages of the game.

However, the Amerks closed out the month of February with a with another big win over the Comets in Utica, this time by a 3-1 score. After the Amerks and Comets exchanged goals in the second period, Olofsson gave Rochester the lead for good just 21-seconds into the third period with a tap-in backhand off a nice feed from O'Regan. Elie also scored later in the period to put the game out of reach for Utica.

In case you missed it, here is how the schedule played out for the month:

  • Friday, February 1 - at Binghamton (3-2 win)
  • Saturday, February 2 - at Hartford (4-1 win)
  • Wednesday, February 6 - vs. Syracuse (2-1 SO loss)
  • Friday, February 8 - vs. Springfield (7-1 win)
  • Saturday, February 9 - at Utica (5-2 loss)
  • Tuesday, February 12 - at Cleveland (5-2 loss)
  • Friday, February 15 - vs. Syracuse (1-0 loss)
  • Saturday, February 16 - at Syracuse (3-2 SO win)
  • Sunday, February 17 - vs. Binghamton (5-1 win)
  • Wednesday, February 20 - vs. Cleveland (4-2 win)
  • Friday, February 22 - at Utica (4-3 OT win)
  • Saturday, February 23 - vs. Belleville (5-3 loss)
  • Wednesday, February 27 - at Utica (3-1 win)

Game of the Month: February 8 vs. Springfield

It was a good start to the game for both teams with chances at each end of the ice, however neither team could find the back of the net. The second period saw just seven combined shots on goal, however the Amerks found themselves with a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes on just four shots on goal. Scott Wilson opened the scoring as he got a piece off a Matt Tennyson shot in front of the net that found its way behind goalie Chris Driedger. Later in the period, Olofsson scored his 16th goal of the season as he one-timed a pass from O'Regan in the slot to give Rochester a 2-0 lead. Then the Amerks really opened things up to start the third period as Olofsson scored his second of the night just 1:33 into the period on the power play with another one-time feed, this time from the edge of the faceoff circle to put Rochester up 3-0. After a Simpson goal just 1:17 to make it 4-0, the Amerks were forced to kill a 5-on-3 penalty at the 6:02 mark of the third. Still while on the 5-on-3 penalty kill, Rasmus Asplund and O'Regan found themselves in on a two-on-one chance on Driedger, and Asplund's pass across to O'Regan went off the leg of a defender and into the net. Just moments later, with one penalty killed off, Olofsson broke free in the neutral zone for a shorthanded breakaway and ended up backhanding in his third goal of the night for his first career hat-trick in North America.

Olofsson ended the night with his hat-trick that featured an even strength goal, a power play goal and a shorthanded goal. He was just a penalty shot goal and an empty net goal away from completing the Mario Lemieux hat-trick. Olofsson also added an assist on Wilson's second period tally for a four-point night with six shots on goal.

Eric Cornel got in on the fun with a goal off his back and in to the net to make it a 7-1 score with 10:46 remaining in regulation. Wedgewood nearly completed the shutout until it was spoiled with 4:31 remaining when he was beat off a juicy rebound in the slot, but he still turned away 19 of 20 saves to help Rochester to the 7-1 win at Blue Cross Arena.

Here's an update on the list of injuries the Amerks have been dealing with as of March 16:

  • Sean Malone - Lower-body injury (day-to-day)
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