We’re at the half way point of the 2017/2018 for the Rochester Americans and it’s a great season so far. Expectations have been set for spring hockey and it’s full steam ahead towards that goal. The last season that the Amerks won a playoff series was also the last season they broke the 100 point barrier in the standings which was in 2004/2005. The points leader on that team that season was Chris Taylor. There’s a connection here.
Writing a report card on a team is always tricky, these are the thoughts of Eric and I. Reply back to us and let us know if you agree or disagree and share your own thoughts.
The coaching staff lead by Chris Taylor and joined by Toby Petersen and Gord Dineen has shaped this team into a contender. The message to players has been that they’re here to help everyone fulfill their goals with their own understanding, knowledge and experience having achieved goals of their own in there careers. It doesn’t stop there though. Kevin Porter, Taylor Fedun, Zach Redmond, Kyle Criscuolo and Nathan Paetsch are players on this team that lead by example and have kept the team grounded.
Jason Botterill and Randy Sexton talked all summer about winning in Rochester and they’ve backed up every word they’ve said. The right coaches were hired and the right players were signed. Early season signing of Stuart Percy was a great addition. Trading Nicolas Deslauriers for Zach Redmond has been a steal. The team was built on depth to withstand any call ups and injuries and so far it has.
This team has chemistry, they enjoy coming to the rink, they hang out outside of the rink and they’ve consistently said the word fun since early on in the season. Can you have fun without winning or do you need winning to have fun? They go hand in hand and the team has found the balance.
This team isn’t perfect, no team is. One thing they’re great at is recognizing and taking ownership of bad periods of hockey or even bad games and coming out at the next opportunity and responding with how they need to. If they’re winning they take that and come back out to win the next period or the next game. If they’re losing they figure out what’s going on and turn it around. You can’t count this team out and that’s evident by the fact that they’ve only lost eight games in regulation halfway through the season. Only one team has lost less, Manitoba Moose at seven.
First quarter: 11-5-2-1 (25 PTS)
Second quarter: 11-3-2-2 (26 PTS)
Halfway total: 23-8-4-3 (53 PTS)
Home vs Away:
Home record: 11-7-0-1 (23 PTS)
Road record: 12-1-4-2 (30 PTS)
The team has played some of it’s best hockey on the road and leads the league with the best road record. They’re also the only team to have only lost one game in regulation. The only road loss was a 5-0 blowout in Binghamton.
On home ice they’ve had some struggles but with only eight regulation losses all season is it really considered a struggle? Four losses were in October, three in December. The first three home games of 2018 have been wins to break out of that funk. This goes back to the response mentioned above. The team recognized playing at home wasn’t going well and quickly turned it around.
In the standings the Amerks have sat in second place minus once when they were in first. The second quarter of the season started with the Amerks seven points behind the Marlies but they’ve closed the gap and have been neck and neck. A team to watch out for is the Syracuse Crunch, they’ve gained 31 points in the second quarter, had a winning streak of 10 games and is currently on a 7 game winning streak.
First quarter standings:
Second quarter standings:
The second half of the season is going to be a chase.
The scoring appears to be an issue but is it really when you’ve been in second place all season in the division? Blowout wins aren’t on the horizon but they’ll continue to control games, respond to bad periods and find ways to win.
Penalty kill has been fantastic. Currently at fifth in the league but the difference between the top five teams is one percent. The power play is ranked 11th and has been doing what they’re supposed to.
Linus Ullmark: A+
Why we’re in first. .928 saves %
Adam Wilcox: B-
Playing very well now after a couple of rough starts early on in the season
Jonas Johansson N/A
Best helmet on the team!
Adam Krause: B
Plays hard in limited 4th line minutes
Sean Malone: B
Earning more and more ice time. Forechecks hard / brings some physicality
Colin Blackwell: A
Speed kills. Can’t recall a truly bad game. One of bigger surprises
Sahir Gill: A
A complete player who has graduated to top 6 minutes
Kyle Criscuolo: A
Deserved his first NHL look. Can be dominant
Evan Rodrigues: A-
Only 10 games but WOW. Except that -5 game!
Kevin Porter: B+
Slowed by injuries but plays with poise. Offense starting to come
Dalton Smith: B
His role is necessary
Garret Ross: B-
A little more offense would be ideal, but he plays his role well
C.J. Smith: A
Recent slump aside – he’s been dominant
Hudson Fasching: B
When he plays like a power forward he’s a beast
Seth Griffith: A-
Nearly a PPG player since joining the team
Nick Baptiste: C+
A solid AHL’er at this stage, just outside being a consistent top 6 guy
Alexander Nylander: C-
Still struggling to play the pro game consistently. Gets overpowered some games
Justin Bailey: N/A
Need him to be healthy, happy and productive this second half
Eric Cornel: B
Does what’s necessary to contribute
Brendan Guhle: A
He’s for real. Earned the recall and we’ll enjoy his remaining time in Rochester
Andrew MacWilliam: A
Our best defensive dman. Recent injury is a big setback
Zach Redmond: A
Dominant offensive dman at this level
Conor Allen: B-
Has only played three times in the last 18 games, is reliable when needed
Stuart Percy: A-
Tailing off a little as of late but what a great pickup early in the season
Casey Nelson: B-
Better than the first half last season but not as good as his last 6 weeks last season
Matt Tennyson: C
Has struggled since his joining the Amerks and is a -10
Limited games, wouldn’t be fair to give a grade but 5A in 12 games was pretty good. Once healthy he’ll challenge for a spot in the lineup.
Limited games as well but he’s already stepped in as a leader.
Now that he’s back he’ll be a steady eddie in the lineup.
Can’t give him a grade since he hasn’t played here but he’s currently tied for 3rd in scoring in the ECHL with 20G+20A in 34 games!
Arvin Atwal N/A
Great scrap sticking up for Nylander in his weekend playing here.
Vaclav Karabacek N/A
Devante Stephens N/A
Eric Knodel N/A
Brycen Martin N/A
Steve Moses: Q
Thank you if you’ve read this far! The leadership, willingness to learn and desire for success in the spring is what makes this team worth watching every game.