Rochester Americans Game Preview: Friday, January 17, 2020 vs. Cleveland Monsters
TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
- The Rochester Americans (21-11-2-3) look to snap out of a four-game slide tonight as they open their final three-game weekend of the season against the Cleveland Monsters (17-19-1-2) at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the fourth between the North Division rivals this season with all three previous games having been one-goal margins. The matchup will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
LAST TIME OUT
- The Amerks took a two-goal advantage going into the second intermission Saturday night at Upstate Medical University Arena, but the Syracuse Crunch scored four times during the third period, including three unanswered goals over the final 11:24 of regulation, to escape with a 5-4 win. The contest was the fourth between the two clubs this season and all four have been one-goal outcomes.
- Despite the loss, the Amerks show a 16-8-1-2 record over their last 17 games dating back to Nov. 1, earning points in 19 games over that span.
- Forward C.J. Smith chipped in a pair of assists for Rochester, which had won the previous three get-togethers with the Crunch this season, while Tyler Randell, John Gilmour, Brett Murray and Jean-Sebastien Dea all found the back of the net. Goaltender Andrew Hammond (10-8-2) suffered his sixth straight loss for the Amerks.
ROAD AHEAD FOR ROCHESTER
- The Amerks continue their last three-in-three of the campaign on Saturday, Jan. 18 when they face-off against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center at 7:05 p.m. before closing the weekend Sunday night in Hershey against the Bears at 5:00 p.m. Both games will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
LUUKKONEN JOINS AMERKS AFTER RECALL FROM ECHL
- The Amerks recalled goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) earlier this week, giving the team three goaltenders heading into this weekend's stretch of three games in as many nights. Luukkonen returns to Rochester on his second recall of the season after posting a 12-5-3 record in 20 games with Cincinnati. The 20-year-old rookie netminder ranked third among all ECHL goaltenders with a 2.12 goals-against average and 12th in the league with a .917 save percentage at the time of his recall. He was also tied for second with three shutouts. Buffalo's second-round selection in 2017, Luukkonen was named to the upcoming 2020 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic, scheduled for later this month, and was also honored as the Warrior Hockey/ECHL Goaltender of the Month for November after posting a 6-2-1 record in nine appearances.
TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
- Jean-Sebastien Dea continues to lead the team in both goals (12) and points (26) in 35 games this season. Coming into tonight, Dea, who is also second among all Amerks forwards with 70 shots on goal, has eight points (2+6) in his last 10 games dating back to Dec. 20.
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 third-fewest in the AHL coming into the weekend. 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.
- Having won nine of 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.
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 season 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 eighth in scoring among all defensemen with 24 points and ranks 10th with a team-high 19 assists. He's also tied for 18th 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 10th among all active blueliners and ranks 16th overall with a team-best plus-15 on-ice rating through 33 games.
HOW SWEDE IT IS
- Defenseman Lawrence Pilut and goaltender Jonas Johansson have been named to the North Division All-Star roster for the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Ontario International Airport. The annual event will take place Jan. 26-27 at Toyota Arena in Ontario, Calif., home of the Ontario Reign. The Swedish duo will also be joined by Amerks head coach Chris Taylor, who clinched the honor of coaching the North Division squad.
- Rochester holds a record of 28-7-3-3 over Cleveland since the start of the 2011-12 campaign.
- Amerks forward Andrew Oglevie scored his first career hat trick in the previous meeting between the two teams back on Nov. 30, single-handedly outscoring Cleveland in Rochester's 3-2 victory.
- Amerks assistant coach Toby Petersen spent the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons behind the bench with the Monsters. Petersen helped the team earn its first Calder Cup in 2016.
- Rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson is tied for fourth 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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