Amerks: October in review

The Amerks finish the first month of the season as one of the best teams in the AHL

Brayton Wilson
November 07, 2018 - 1:50 pm

Photo: Micheline Michaelina - Rochester Americans


The Rochester Americans finished the month of October as one of the best teams in the American Hockey League.

It did not start that way as the Amerks dropped their first two games of the season to the Charlotte Checkers at Blue Cross Arena, getting out-played and looking like formidable from start to finish. However, Rochester finished the month by going 7-0-1 and out-scoring their opponents 35-20. Along the way, the Amerks went on a run of eight-straight games with earning a point, as well as a stretch of four-straight games with wins on home ice.

As of November 1, the Amerks sat atop the North Division standings with 15 points, just two points ahead of the Cleveland Monsters. Rochester also sat as one of the top-scoring teams in the AHL with 39 tallies in 10 games, while going 29.5-percent on the man-advantage. To start October, the Amerks had one of the best power play units in the entire league, but went cold at the end of the month and have not scored since their game on October 26 against the Utica Comets.

The Amerks were also playing some solid defensive hockey in October, giving up just a total of 30 goals against.

However, the Amerks struggled on the penalty kill and was one of the most penalized teams in the league. Rochester took a total of 52 penalties in 10 games during the month, and gave up 13 goals while down a man. That was just a 75-percent kill rate, which was one of the lowest rates in the AHL.

With the Amerks producing well offensively, the team went into November with three players in the top-five of league scoring.

Victor Olofsson led the way with 15 points (5+10) in 10 games played, and was honored as the CCM/AHL Player of the Month. In his first month in North America, Olofsson put up a seven-game point streak, which saw 14 of his 15 points scored. Olofsson also tied for the AHL lead with nine power play points (1+8), and he scored two game-winning goals for the Amerks in a weekend series against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Olofsson was also named thew CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending on October 14.

Olofsson's transition to North America has gone well to this point, leaving off from his 27-goal season in the Swedish Hockey League last season. The scoring winger has adjusted his speed well to the smaller ice surfaces, and is providing the scoring that had lacked numerous times last season.

Right behind the 23-year-old Swede was veteran defenseman Zach Redmond, who finished October with 14 points (6+8) in 10 games. The 30-year-old defenseman ended up scoring all 14 of his points as part of a nine-game point streak that started following the first game of the season, and he tied Olofsson for the league-lead in power play points. In addition, Redmond scored five of his six goals on the power play, which led the entire AHL.

Not far behind those two was another young Swedish up-and-comer in defenseman Lawrence Pilut. The 22-year-old started off his first season in North America by scoring two goals and registering 13 points in eight games played. Pilut also got things clicking on the power play, playing with Olofsson and Redmond on the same unit. He has scored both of his goals on the power play, as well as six helpers on the man-advantage for eight points.

Next to fellow Swede Rasmus Dahlin, Pilut may be the best puck-moving player in the entire organization. He is able to move the puck with confidence in pace, hitting his teammates with the tape-to-tape precision needed to start an offensive breakout. Pilut is also not afraid to be aggressive on the attack, always keeping his head up and looking for ways to jump up on an offensive rush to create a scoring chance. At this point, Pilut may be the most ready of the defensemen in Rochester to be called up to Buffalo if needed.

In goal, Scott Wedgewood's stats did not reflect with the way he has played for the Amerks this season. Wedgewood finished the month with a 5-2-0-0 record, a 2.86 goals-against average, a .909 save percentage and a shutout in seven games played. While those stats may not look all that impressive, the 26-year-old netminder has played solid in his own net, giving the Amerks plenty of chances to stick in games. After losing the first two games of the season, Wedgewood went on to win the next five games and show off a 1.98 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.

Right behind Wedgewood is Adam Wilcox, who has certainly provided some nice backup work when Rochester's starter has needed a night off. The 25-year-old goalie appeared in three games during October, posting a 2-0-1-0 record with a 3.63 goals-against average and a .863 save percentage. Again, those numbers may not look all too pretty, but he has grinded it out in each of his games, helping the Amerks earn a point in his three appearances.

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

  • Friday, October 5 - vs. Charlotte (6-2 loss)
  • Saturday, October 6 - vs. Charlotte (4-2 loss)
  • Wednesday, October 10 - vs. Syracuse (6-3 win)
  • Friday, October 13 - at Bridgeport (4-3 win)
  • Saturday, October 14 - at Bridgeport (3-2 OT win)
  • Wednesday, October 17 - at Utica (6-1 win)
  • Friday, October 19 - vs. Toronto (5-4 SO win)
  • Saturday, October 20 - @ Belleville (5-4 OT loss)
  • Friday, October 26 - vs. Utica (4-0 win)
  • Saturday, October 27 - vs. Laval (3-2 win)

Here is some of the notable streaks the Amerks went on during the month of October:

  • Amerks
    • Eight-game point streak (7-0-1-0)
    • Four-game home winning streak
  • Victor Olofsson
    • Seven-game point streak (5+9)
  • Zach Redmond
    • Nine-game point streak (6+8)
  • Lawrence Pilut
    • Five-game point streak (1+10)
  • Alexander Nylander
    • Six-game point streak (3+5)
  • Brendan Guhle
    • Five-game point streak (2+4)
  • Kevin Porter
    • Five-game point streak (1+4)
      • Has snce extended the streak to seven through two games in November

Here is a run down of some other Amerks players and how they performed in the month of October:

  • Alexander Nylander

Nylander has quietly been playing a very good start to his season with the Amerks. The 20-year-old finished the month of November with four goals and nine points in 10 games, and has carried over his play from the preseason with the Buffalo Sabres. Nylander is actively engaged in all three zones of the ice, has been getting som quality time on the power play, as well as earning some trust with head coach Chris Taylor on the penalty kill. He certainly can use more time in the AHL to fine tool his game more, but he could certainly be a name we see back in Buffalo at some point this season.

  • C.J. Smith

The 23-year-old winger has really shown off his physical presence on the ice, as well as his maturity to start the season in Rochester. Smith scored four goals and seven points in the first 10 games of the year. He has shown that he looks stronger with the puck, much faster on his feet, and he is also staying healthy at the start of the season. Smith may the most NHL-ready player of the group the Sabres are in need of a body in Buffalo. His work in Rochester has paid off enough to garner that attention.

  • Rasmus Asplund

The 20-year-old rookie has not flashed on the scoreboard in his first 10 games of the season (one assist), but he has earned the trust of Chris Taylor in just his short amount of time in the AHL. Asplund has earned himself a key role playing some important penalty kill minutes, while also playing as the center on the second power play unit. It may be a while before we see Asplund in the NHL with the Sabres, but his transition to the North American game has gone swimmingly to this point.

  • Danny O'Regan

O'Regan started to find his scoring touch in the final five games of the month, but he has played a big role of being the leader on a line with Olofsson and Asplund. The 24-year-old had five goals and seven points through the first 10 games, and was getting the time on the power play and penalty kill.

  • Will Borgen

Borgen is beginning to bud into a minutes muncher for the Amerks, which he did when he played at St. Cloud State. The 21-year-old played in all 10 games in October on a jam-packed blue line, and managed to score his first AHL goal and add two assists in that time. He has been getting plenty of work on the penalty kill, as well as helping the Amerks play a solid two-way game throughout. The more and more Borgen plays, the better he will get over time. Not to say that he hasn't played bad in the first place.

  • Brendan Guhle

Guhle had shown some flashes of brilliance on offense in his first 10 games, but he continues to show signs of inconsistency in his overall game. Guhle gets shots to the net and creates plenty of chances offensively, but he still needs to get more pucks on goal and be more of a factor in the offensive end. In his own zone, Guhle still gets himself into trouble with trying to play too much with his stick and not integrating his physical play. If he can find some consistency, he will be back in the NHL soon. For the time being, the 21-year-old needs to continue his fine-tuning in the AHL.

  • Justin Bailey

It has been a major struggle offensively for the 23-year-old Williamsville native. Bailey has not put enough shots on goal (19 in 10 games) and has no goals to account for his play. However, it is not that he isn't trying to help the Amerks produce. Bailey has been looked to as a young leader of the group, but will have to step up his game a bit more in order to make that additional impact.

  • Andrew Oglevie

Oglevie went pointless in his first four games of the 2018-19 season before leaving after the first period of his fourth game with an undisclosed injury. The 23-year-old returned to action on Friday after a six-game absence.

  • Sean Malone

The West Seneca native has not played yet this season after suffering a knee injury during the first game of the 2018 preseason in Buffalo. However, he has skated in practice for the Amerks, and was assigned to the Americans on Tuesday. Malone is expected to make his return to the lineup on Wednesday when the Amerks come to Buffalo to face the Cleveland Monsters.

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