Rochester Americans Game Preview: Saturday, February 22, 2020 vs. Cleveland Monsters
TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
- The Rochester Americans (30-17-3-4) close out the weekend tonight as they welcome the North Division rival Cleveland Monsters (23-26-3-2) back to The Blue Cross Arena. Tonight's 7:05 p.m. contest will be the final time the two teams meet in the Flower City this year as they conclude their season series on March 15 in Cleveland. All of tonight's action will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
LAST TIME OUT
- Two days after scoring his first professional goal for the Amerks, rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson delivered the game-winner just 35 seconds into overtime to cap a two-point night and give Rochester a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last night at The Blue Cross Arena.
- Bryson produced a two-point effort with a goal and an assist while forwards C.J. Smith and Sean Malone each scored their 11th goals of the season for Rochester. Goaltender Andrew Hammond improved to 14-11-2 on the slate as he made 29 saves in-between the pipes.
- With the win, the Amerks remain in second place in the AHL's North Division standings and evened their record to 7-7-1-1 in the last 16 meetings with Lehigh Valley dating back to the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
ROAD AHEAD FOR ROCHESTER
- Rochester's homestand continues on Wednesday, Feb. 26 when they host the Utica Comets at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
TAYLOR JOINS ELITE COMPANY
- By way of last night's 3-2 overtime win, the Amerks reached the 30-win mark for the fourth consecutive season and third straight under head coach Chris Taylor. Taylor became the first Amerks head coach since Randy Cunneyworth, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history, to lead his team to 30 or more wins in each of his first three seasons behind the bench.
MITTELSTADT QUICKLY MAKING HIS MARK
- After producing just one point through his first five games with the Amerks following his midseason reassignment from the Sabres back in December, Casey Mittelstadt has quickly evolved into one of Rochester's most consistent point-getters. The second-year pro has piled up 19 points (7+12) in 28 games for Rochester, including 17 points (7+10) since the turn of the New Year. Mittelstadt has eight points (1+7) in his first 10 games of February and comes into the weekend showing five assists over his last six appearances.
TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
- Jean-Sebastien Dea, who remains the only Amerk forward this season to reach the 30-point plateau, continues to pace the team in goals (15) and points (36) through 49 games. Coming into weekend, Dea, who is also second among all Amerks forwards with 98 shots on goal, has 15 points (5+10) in his last 19 games since the turn of the New Year, including points in three straight.
SHARING THE CREASE
- Anchored by the goaltending tandem of veteran Andrew Hammond and third-year pro Jonas Johansson, who is currently on recall with the parent Buffalo Sabres, the Amerks own one of the top defenses in AHL having allowed only 148 goals through the 54 games of the season, the ninth-fewest in the AHL coming into the weekend. The duo has also combined for six shutouts and rank among the AHL's leaders as they have 14 and 13 wins on the season, respectively.
- Hammond, who is 14-11-2 on the season, is tied for third among all netminders in shutouts after notching his fourth of the year back on Dec. 14 in a 5-0 win over Laval, a new career-high. With four shutouts through 29 games this season, he remains on pace to tie the franchise record for most shutouts in a season (8) set by Ryan Miller during the 2004-05 campaign.
- Johansson, who made his NHL debut with the Sabres on Feb. 4 against Colorado and made his first career start two nights later versus Detroit, owns a career-best 13-3-3 record with two shutouts this season. Despite being on recall, he has the fifth-best goal-against average in the league (2.19) and ranks fourth among all netminders with a .925 save percentage in 20 games. Dating back to Nov. 13, the 2020 AHL All-Star selection boasts an impressive 11-1-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.11 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage while allowing just two goals or less in eight 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 five games without a point all season. The two-time AHL All-Star and reigning Eddie Shore Award winner is presently tied for 13th in scoring amongst all defensemen with 30 points and is also tied for 10th with a team-high 25 assists, 10 of which have come on the power-play.
- Back from his fourth recall of the season, Pilut has 17 points (5+12) over his last 26 AHL games dating back to Nov. 15, including goals in two of his last seven outings. Having already established a new AHL career-high in goals (6), the former SHL Defenseman of the Year is also on pace to set a new mark in points.
- Nelson is tied for ninth among all blueliners with a team-best plus-19 on-ice rating through 44 games this season.
- Jacob Bryson is tied for sixth among all first-year players with a plus-10 rating. Bryson, who scored his first pro goal on Wednesday and had the game-winner last night, is also tied for eighth among all rookie blueliners with 21 points (2+19) in 53 games.
- Rochester holds a record of 29-7-3-4 over Cleveland since the start of the 2011-12 campaign and has earned a point in all six games so far this season
- Forward Andrew Oglevie scored his first career hat trick back on Nov. 30 against Cleveland to lead the Amerks to a 3-2 win.
- Amerks assistant coach Toby Petersen was behind the bench when Cleveland won the Calder Cup in 2016.
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