PREVIEWING THE UPCOMING THREE-AND-THREE
Rochester embarks on its final three-in-three of the season beginning on Friday, Jan. 17 as they welcome the Cleveland Monsters back for a North Division showdown at The Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m. The Amerks will then close out the weekend with back-to-back matchups in Pennsylvania against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at the PPL Center before renewing their longstanding rivalry on Sunday with the Hershey Bears at the Giant Center.
Rochester shows a record of 28-7-3-3 since the start of the 2011-12 seasons against Cleveland and a 30-29-7 record all-time record versus Lehigh Valley.
Sunday's contest with Hershey will be the 460th all-time meeting between the AHL's two oldest teams. The Amerks hold a 192-213-54 record all-time versus the Bears and have earned seven out of a possible 10 points in the five games dating back to the 2017-18 season. UPL RETURNS FROM CINCINNATI
The Amerks recalled goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from the Cincinnati Cyclones Sunday morning.
Luukkonen, 20, returns to Rochester for the second recall of the season after posting a 12-5-3 record in 20 games with the Cyclones.
The 20-year-old rookie netminder ranks third among all ECHL goaltenders with a 2.12 goals-against average and is 12th in the league with a .917 save percentage while also being tied for second with three shutouts.
The Espoo, Finland native was named to the upcoming 2020 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic, scheduled for later this month, to represent the Cyclones. Luukkonen was also honored by the league as the Warrior Hockey/ECHL Goaltender of the Month for November.
DYNAMIC DUO IN THE CREASE
Anchored by the elite goaltending tandem of veteran Andrew Hammond and third-year pro Jonas Johansson, the Amerks own one of the top defenses in AHL, having allowed only 96 goals through the first 37 games of the season, the fourth-fewest in the AHL coming into the week. The duo has also combined for six shutouts and continue to rank among the AHL's goaltending leaders with 10 and 11 wins on the season, respectively.
Hammond (10-8-2) ranks second among all netminders after notching his fourth shutout of the season back on Dec. 14 in a 5-0 win over Laval, a new career-high. In his last 16 games, Hammond boasts a 7-7-1 record with four shutouts, a 2.23 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. With four shutouts through just 22 games this season, he's on pace to match the franchise record for most shutouts in a season (8) set by Ryan Miller during the 2004-05 campaign.
Entering the week with a 9-1-1 record in his last 11 appearances, Johansson shows an AHL career-best 11-3-3 record with two shutouts this season. He has the sixth-best goal-against average in the league (2.23) and ranks sixth among all netminders with a .924 save percentage in 18 games. Dating back to Nov. 13, the third-year netminder boasts an impressive 9-1-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.15 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage while allowing just two goals or less in six consecutive starts over that span.
Jean-Sebastien Dea leads the team in both goals (12) and points (26) in 35 games this season. Dea, who is also second among all Amerks forwards with 70 shots, has eight points (2+6) in his last 11 games.
Rookie forward Brett Murray comes into the week with three goals, seven assists and a pair of multi-point efforts over his last 20 games. He's currently tied for 20th in scoring among all AHL rookies with 17 points (5+12) in 32 games.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
Rochester owns three of the AHL's top point-producing defensemen in Zach Redmond, Casey Nelson and Lawrence Pilut, all of whom have been mainstays on Rochester's blueline this season.
The 2019-20 is just a different chapter in the same story for the 31-year-old Redmond, who hasn't gone more than four games without a point all season. The two-time AHL All-Star and reigning Eddie Shore Award winner is tied for seventh in scoring among all defensemen with 24 points and ranks ninth with a team-high 19 assists. He's tied for 15th for goals by a defenseman with five through 34 games this season.
Leading up to his recall on Jan. 7, Pilut had 16 points (4+12) over his last 21 games dating back to Nov. 15, including goals in three of his last seven outings. Having already established a new AHL career-high in goals, the former SHL Defenseman of the Year is also on pace to set a new career-high in points. His 16 assists are three shy of Redmond.
Despite missing the last two games, Nelson is tied for eighth among all active blueliners and ranks 14th overall with a team-best plus-15 on-ice rating through 33 games.
Rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson is tied for fifth in the AHL for all first-year players with a plus-10 on-ice rating while being the only Amerk to appear in all 37 games so far this season.
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