The Amerks are on the road to play the Comets, a team they’re very familiar with after playing them eight times in 40 games so far this season. The Comets have the upper hand in the season series with a 5-1-1-1 record. Three games have been decided in a shootout, two in overtime and Utica winning two of the three that ended in regulation.
“We have to win our 50/50 battles,” is what Chris Taylor said was the key to winning tonight. “They capitalize on our mistakes and we have to be a little more patient with them. They’re a team that sits back in zone, they play five guys around the net. They rely on us to trying to force things and we can’t force too many things tonight.”
Those 50/50 battles were a key part of practice on Tuesday morning (pictured above) before going into special teams drills. Everyone at one end of the ice, puck tossed into the corner, battle for it, control it, get it to your teammate.
The Amerks had a great third period on Friday night winning 5-2 but followed that up with a 4-0 loss in Syracuse and then home loss on Monday against Utica that ended 2-1 after a shootout. Other teams are working hard and chasing while the Amerks haven’t been playing their best hockey. The last nine games they’re 4-3-1-1. They’re still only two points behind first place Toronto but Syracuse is only three points back in the standings.
“We haven’t been playing our best, but teams are going to have slumps during the year,” Kevin Porter said after practice. “Its a long season so as long as we’re getting points in these games when we’re not playing our best that’s key but we definitely have to get back on track.”
Nathan Paetsch said they need to, “Take control of the game, not let the game come to us.”
There were two player moves this morning. Casey Nelson from Rochester to Buffalo and Eric Knodel from Cincinnati to Rochester. Knodel was a late arrival to Amerks practice this morning and looks like he’ll be in the lineup tonight with Stuart Percy, Zach Redmond, Matt Tennyson, Taylor Fedun and Nathan Paetsch.
Knodel is tied for sixth amongst defenseman in the ECHL with 9G+17A. He’s also the team captain for the Cyclones.
Healthy scratches are likely to be Conor Allen, Adam Krause and Dalton Smith.
Brendan Guhle left practice early on Tuesday morning and has been added to the injury report as day to day. Chris Taylor said he was banged up in the game on Monday vs Utica.
No other changes to the injury report. MacWilliam (upper body / week to week), Goers (upper body / indefinite) and Blackwell (upper body / indefinite).
Linus Ullmark will get the start tonight in Utica with the hopes of avoiding a three game losing streak. The Amerks have only scored one goal in the last 125 minutes of hockey (2 games + OT) so he’ll need some scoring help up front that he hasn’t been getting.