Rochester Americans Game Preview: Sunday, January 19, 2020 at Hershey Bears
TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
- The Rochester Americans (21-12-2-4) put the finishing touches on their final three-in-three of the season tonight at Giant Center when they take on the Hershey Bears (24-13-2-3) in a battle among the AHL's two oldest teams. The puck drops on the 460th all-time meeting between the league's cornerstone franchises at 5:00 p.m. with all the action being carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
LAST TIME OUT
- The Amerks fell into a two-goal deficit midway through the first period against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and could not muster any offense as they suffered a 4-0 defeat Saturday night at the PPL Center.
- Defenseman Casey Nelson registered a game-high five shots on net while goaltender Andrew Hammond (10-9-2) suffered his seventh straight loss for the Amerks.
- Despite the loss, the Amerks show a 16-9-1-3 record over their last 29 games dating back to Nov. 1, earning points in 20 games over that span. Rochester remains just six points out of first place behind the Utica Comets and are four points back of the Belleville Senators in the AHL's North Division standings entering tonight's final game of the weekend. The Amerks also have at least two games in hand on both the Comets and Senators coming into tonight's matchup.
ROAD AHEAD FOR ROCHESTER
- The Amerks return to action for their final three games before the annual All-Star break beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 22 when they travel to Cleveland for a rematch against the Monsters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Following the 7:00 p.m. matchup, the Amerks will host the Laval Rocket at The Blue Cross Arena on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:05 p.m. before closing out the weekend in Syracuse with a 7:00 p.m. face-off against the Crunch from Upstate Medical University Arena on Saturday, Jan. 25. All three 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
- Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (0-0-1) made his highly anticipated season debut for Rochester Friday night after earning a recall earlier in the week from the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). The 20-year-old rookie netminder made 23 saves in his first appearance with the Amerks since Apr. 14 of last season. Prior to joining Rochester, Luukkonen posted a 12-5-3 record in 20 games with Cincinnati. He 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 will represent the Cyclones at the upcoming 2020 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic later this month.
TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
- Jean-Sebastien Dea continues to lead the team in both goals (12) and points (27) in 37 games this season. Coming into tonight, Dea, who is also second among all Amerks forwards with 73 shots on goal, has nine points (2+7) in his last 12 games dating back to Dec. 20.
SHARING THE CREASE
- Anchored by the 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 104 goals through the first 39 games of the season, the third-fewest in the AHL coming into tonight. 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 (10-9-2) 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 17 games, Hammond boasts a 7-8-1 record with four shutouts, a 2.33 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. With four shutouts through just 23 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 fifth-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 10th in scoring among all defensemen with 24 points and ranks 10th with a team-high 19 assists. He's also tied for 19th for goals by a defenseman with five through 36 games this season.
- Back from his second recall with the Sabres, Pilut has 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.
- After missing two games and returning to the lineup Friday night, Nelson is tied for ninth among all active blueliners and ranks 16th overall with a team-best plus-15 on-ice rating through 35 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.
- Tonight's matchup marks the 460th all-time meeting between the AHL's two senior-most franchises with Rochester holding a 192-213-54 lifetime record against Hershey.
- The Bears have claimed five of last eight meetings dating back to the 2016-17 season while the Amerks have earned seven out of a possible 10 points in the five games dating back to the 2017-18 season.
- In the last five years, the Amerks show a 5-5-1-0 record against the Bears in the Flower City compared to a 1-3-1-0 at the Giant Center.
- Rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson is 15th in the AHL for all first-year players with a plus-7 on-ice rating while being the only Amerk to appear in all 39 games so far this season.
- The Bears lineup features former Amerk defenseman in Erik Burgdoerfer. The Abington, Penn., native notched 17 points (1+16) in 52 games during the 2016-17 season while with Rochester. Burgdoerfer comes into tonight with three assists over his last five games. Overall, he has recorded seven points (2+5) in 36 contests this season.
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