Amerks: November in review

Rochester goes 6-3-1-0 in November to remain as the top team in the North Division

Brayton Wilson
December 07, 2018 - 7:14 am

Photo: Micheline Michaelina - Rochester Americans


In what seemed like an up-and-down month of November, the Rochester Americans managed to finish the month with a 6-3-1-0 record and remain atop the North Division standings.

After going 7-2-1-0 to start the 2018-19 season in October, Rochester opened November with a home-and-home series with their oldest rival in the AHL, the Hershey Bears. In the opener at Blue Cross Arena, the Amerks laid an egg in the opening 20 minutes of play, giving up three goals and not looking like the team that had been pretty dominant the month before. Rochester bounced back for a better effort in the final two periods, but the Bears managed to roll to a comfortable win on the road."

The next night, the Amerks went to Hershey, Pennsylvania and responded in a big way. After an early goal from the Bears in the first period, Rochester opened the flood gates and dominated the pace of play for the rest of the game. Zach Redmond scored twice for the Amerks, while Kevin Porter sunk the Bears with a shorthanded goal late in the second period. Rochester ended up rolling to a 4-1 win over Hershey, and only sparked a three-game win streak for the Amerks.

Rochester's win streak came to a grinding halt when the Amerks went on a three-game road trip through New England in the middle of the month.

In the first game of the trip in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Amerks hopped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to a Kevin Porter goal that was made possible by Lawrence Pilut. However, the Thunderbirds responded with eight unanswered goals, including a hat-trick from Florida Panthers prospect Dryden Hunt, and ended up trouncing the Amerks by a 9-4 score.

The next night in Providence, Rhode Island, the Amerks hopped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of goals from Justin Bailey. However, the Bruins came back to tie the hockey game and force overtime, where Ryan Donato skated coast-to-coast and ended up firing the game-winning goal past the short side of Scott Wedgewood and in for the game-winning goal.

Rochester was able to salvage the trip with a big 4-3 win in Hartford after going into the third period down by a 3-1 score. Pilut scored earlier in the period to cut the deficit to one, and then with 4:24 to go in regulation, it was Danny O'Regan who put home a rebound to tie the game at 3-3. Just moments later, it was Zach Redmond who wired home his 12th goal of the season and the game-winning goal from a bad angle as he one-timed a puck that was placed into the corner by Pilut.

Rochester returned home to face the Utica Comets for the third time this season, but laid another egg as the offense unleashed a team-high 47 shots on goal, but gave up five goals on 23 shots against in a 5-4 loss. Adam Wilcox was about as solid as could be in goal for the Amerks, but the team failed to play physical in front of their own net, while failing to get bodies to the front of the net and make things difficult for Richard Bachman in the opposing net. The dagger came in the third period when Brendan Guhle fanned on a pass up the middle and the puck found the stick of Utica forward Cam Darcy in the Rochester end. Darcy took the puck, skated in on Wilcox and ripped a shot high on the glove side of Wilcox to make it a 5-3 score.

However, Rochester would bounce back from the loss at home to round out the month with two straight wins. The first came in a 4-3 road win over the Binghamton Devils, and the second came in a 1-0 shutout win for Wedgewood over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Rochester kept up the overall scoring in November, scoring 32 goals to add on to the 35 goals scored in October. That adds up to an average 3.35 goals per-game in the first two months, which continued to place Rochester as one of the top-scoring teams in the American Hockey League.

Last month, the Amerks were one of the best teams on the man advantage, going 13-of-44 in October and converting at a rate of 29.5-percent. However, the Amerks' power play took a hard nose dive in November, scoring just three times on 35 power play chances for a dismal 8.5-percent conversion rate. The longest stretch the Amerks had without a goal on the power play was when they went 0-for-24 from October 26 against Utica to the game in Springfield on November 16.

On the defensive side of things, the Amerks gave up a total of 32 goals-against in the month of November (the 9-4 loss in Springfield didn't help). However, if you add that to the October of 30 goals-against, the Amerks remain as one of the better teams in the league with just 62 goals-against.

The penalty kill had a slight improvement from the month of October, killing off 37-of-44 penalties (84.1%) called on them in November. That put Rochester at a 79.2-percent kill rate through the first two months of the season, which was an improvement from 75-percent after the month of October.

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

  • Friday, November 2 - vs. Hershey (4-2 loss)
  • Saturday, November 3 - @ Hershey (4-1 win)
  • Wednesday, November 7 - vs. Cleveland* (5-2 win)
  • Friday, November 9 - vs. Syracuse (3-2 OT win)
  • Friday, November 16 - at Springfield (9-4 loss)
  • Saturday, November 17 - at Providence (3-2 OT loss)
  • Sunday, November 18 - at Hartford (4-3 win)
  • Friday, November 23 - vs. Utica (5-4 loss)
  • Saturday, November 24 - @ Binghamton (4-3 win)
  • Friday, November 30 - vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (1-0 win)

* - played at KeyBank Center in Buffalo

Game of the Month: November 9th vs. Syracuse

On Military Appreciation Night at Blue Cross Arena, the Amerks faced their arch rival from Syracuse in a wild affair that saw this contest head to overtime.

After a scoreless first period, the Amerks got on the board first with Justin Bailey scoring a beautiful goal as he used hid speed to get around the flat-footed defenseman, then tucked the puck past the leg of Eddie Pasquale for his third goal in two nights.

Syracuse tied the game early in the third period, but Rochester took the lead again after Andrew Oglevie scored his first professional goal that was set up by Alex Nylander. Nylander went in on a partial breakaway, but got tied up by a Crunch defenseman on the way to the net. He lost the puck as he was sent crashing into the net, but the puck was sitting in a perfect spot for Oglevie to slap home the goal.

For the rest of the period, Syracuse went into desperation mode as the team tried to tie the hockey game. It was former Sabres forward Cory Conacher who ended up tying the game at 2-2 with 0.6-seconds on the clock to send the game to overtime. Conacher managed to one-time a puck that ended up trickling through Wilcox off to his right, which sent the contest to bonus time.

At the 2:37 mark of overtime, Redmond forced some pressure on the Crunch in the offensive zone and forced a turnover. Nylander swooped in to take the puck, and then fed a perfect pass to Redmond at the edge of the faceoff circle for a one-time shot that beat Pasquale high to the blocker side.

Here is a run down of how some players performed in the month of November:

  • Victor Olofsson

After finishing the month of October with five goals, 13 points and the honors as the AHL Player of the Month, Olofsson cooled off a bit in the month of November. Granted, he did miss a few games with a lower-body injury, but Olofsson went through November with just two goals and four points in seven games played. He managed to score in the first game of the month against Hershey, but then did not score next until scoring the only goal on November 30 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The 23-year-old forward continues to grow his game as a professional in North America, and November is not going to deter Olofsson from continuing is strong play to start the season. He continues to battle every game, and is continuing to look more and more comfortable with every game.

  • Lawrence Pilut

Pilut started the month off continuing his red-hot play from the month of October. The 22-year-old defenseman started the month with a seven-game point streak before his first call up from the Sabres on November 21. In that stretch of games, Pilut scored a goal and picked up eight helpers to help him get to the top of the league in scoring just before his call up. Pilut was sent back to the Amerks for one game on November 24, which snapped his scoring streak, but was called back up to the Sabres on November 27 and has not been back since.

  • Zach Redmond

The 30-year-old defenseman continued his incredible scoring pace all the way through the month of November, scoring seven more goals and registering an assist in 10 games played. Through the first two months of the season, Redmond was on pace to score an AHL record 53 goals and register 84 points. He continues to be an offensive catalyst for the Amerks, and still remains as the leading scoring defenseman in the AHL. If he continues this pace, Redmond may end up being in the running for the AHL's MVP award at the end of the year.

  • Alex Nylander

The 20-year-old forward continues to play some consistent hockey with the Amerks this season. While the numbers were not all that flashy (6+11) in November, he continued to take every shift in stride and make every shift count for his team. Nylander is more engaged than ever, he's skating very well, keeping his feet moving, and his overall awareness at the professional level has improved tenfold. He has also been playing very well so far this season on a line with Bailey and Sean Malone. While the Sabres have remained relatively healthy up front this season, Nylander could be ready for a call up if he's needed in a pinch. However, more time to build his confidence in the AHL will never hurt.

  • C.J. Smith

Smith is certainly the leading candidate for the "most snake-bitten player" award this season. The 24-year-old has been one of the top offensive producers this season, and he has been able to use his speed and good quick release to create plenty of scoring chances. However, he has not found the back of the net as much as he probably would like or had imagined. Smith looks the most ready to make that next jump to the NHL if needed, and continues to be an offensive leader for the Amerks this season. Although the puck hasn't been going in for him, the production will continue to come for him if he sticks with it. Either way, six goals and 11 assists in 20 games is still not that bad.

  • Justin Bailey

Bailey came alive in November in terms of putting the puck in the back of the net. After going goalless in October, Bailey scored five goals in November, which included a pair of two-goal games. Sure, the scoring has not come consistently, but his offense is coming along as he continues to play and develop good chemistry with Nylander and Malone. Between November 7 and November 24, Bailey ended up scoring, at least, a point in six of seven games, scoring five goals and three assists. If Bailey can find some more consistency with his game, the points could start to pile up.

  • Brendan Guhle

It was another month of struggle for Guhle as he continues to battle through some growing pains. The 21-year-old defenseman scored just three points (0+3) in November, and his overall production has dipped quite a bit. Granted, he did miss a couple of games due to an illness, but Guhle has struggled to stack together some consistent play in either end of the ice. Where he continues to struggle is in the defensive end with a lack of physical play and the tendency to lose himself in his own zone. Guhle was once thought to be a player who was close to being NHL ready, but has not shown and progression to this point in his game. He will continue to work with assistant coach Gord Dineen to try and correct his issues, but there should be some concerns with his play.

  • Rasmus Asplund

Even though Asplund's production may not seem like much, his overall game is flourishing in his first professional season in North America. Asplund continues to get some quality ice time from head coach Chris Taylor, and has been working in more on both the power play and penalty kill. Asplund did manage to finally net his first AHL goal in the win over Hartford on November 18. His play is only going to increase more as the season goes on.

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