Rochester Americans Game Preview: Wednesday, March 11, 2020 vs. Binghamton Devils
TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW
- The Rochester Americans (33-19-4-5) return home in search of their third straight win tonight when they host the intrastate rival Binghamton Devils (33-24-4-0) at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the final meeting between the North Division rivals in Rochester this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
LAST TIME OUT
- The Amerks faced a one-goal deficit going into the final period of regulation, but thanks to three unanswered goals, including a pair in the final 1:12, the Amerks completed the weekend sweep over the North Division-leading Belleville Senators with a 4-2 victory in the season series finale between the two teams Saturday at CAA Arena.
- Taylor Leier opened the scoring with his team-leading sixth power-play goal of the season and 10th overall, while rookie Jacob Bryson scored his second marker in as many nights for the Amerks, who posted a 4-1-1-0 record against Belleville this season as well as a perfect 3-0-0-0 mark north of the border. Will Borgen notched his first goal of the season, which held as the game-winning goal, before Sean Malone sealed the win with his 12th of the campaign.
- In his first AHL appearance since Jan. 24, goaltender Jonas Johansson (14-3-3), who was reassigned by the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, made 24 saves in his return to the lineup to earn the win.
AMERKS AT A GLANCE
- The Amerks come into the week six points behind the Belleville Senators for the top spot in the North Division standings with a game in hand. The Amerks, who have earned 15 out of a possible 22 points in their last 11 games, also hold a two-point lead over the Comets for second place in North Division standings coming into this week.
ROAD AHEAD FOR ROCHESTER
- The Amerks remain at home on Friday, Mar. 13 when they host the Syracuse Crunch at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena before closing out the weekend with a 3:00 p.m. matinee with the Cleveland Monsters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Both games will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester.
MITTELSTADT QUICKLY MAKING HIS MARK
- Casey Mittelstadt has quickly evolved into one of Rochester's most consistent point-getters with 23 points (9+14) in 33 games for Rochester since being reassigned to the Amerks in December from the Buffalo Sabres. Mittelstadt has totaled 21 points (9+12) since the turn of the New Year and led all Amerks with 12 points (3+9) in 14 games during the month of February. Over his last 10 games, the second-year pro has eight points on one goal and seven assists.
TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
- Jean-Sebastien Dea continues to pace the team with 39 points in 56 games and ranks second among all Amerks forwards with 113 shots on goal. Dea has 18 points (5+13) in his last 26 games since the turn of the New Year, including seven points (1+6) over his last 10 outings. He's now reached the 15-goal mark in each of the last five seasons dating back to the 2015-16 campaign when he scored a career-high 20 as a member of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
SHARING THE CREASE
- Anchored by the goaltending tandem of veteran Andrew Hammond and third-year pro Jonas Johansson, who returned from his first-career recall to the Buffalo Sabres last week, the Amerks own one of the top defenses in AHL having allowed only 175 goals through 61 games this season, the 10th-fewest in the AHL coming into the weekend. The duo has also combined for six shutouts and rank among the AHL's leaders with 16 and 14 wins this season, respectively.
- Hammond, who is 16-11-2 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 33 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 went 1-3-1 during his six-game stint with the Sabres, owns a career-best 14-3-3 record with two shutouts this season. He owns the fifth-best goal-against average in the league (2.18) and ranks sixth among all netminders with a .924 save percentage in 21 appearances. Dating back to Nov. 13, the Swedish netminder boasts an impressive 12-1-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage while allowing just two goals or less in nine 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. The two-time AHL All-Star and reigning Eddie Shore Award winner is presently tied for 20th in scoring amongst all defensemen with 30 points and is also tied for 18th with a team-high 25 assists, 10 of which have come on the power-play. His 159 shots rank second-most by a defenseman, trailing only San Antonio's Jake Wallman in that category.
- Pilut, who's back with big club on his fifth recall of the season, has 17 points (5+12) over his last 27 AHL games dating back to Nov. 15. Having already set 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 11th among all blueliners with a team-best plus-18 on-ice rating through 47 games this season.
BINGHAMTON'S RYAN SCHMELZER NAMED WEEK'S BEST
The American Hockey League announced earlier this weelk that Binghamton Devils forward Ryan Schmelzer has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending March 8, 2020. Schmelzer registered two goals and four assists for six points in three games over the weekend as the Devils continued their second-half surge in the North Division.
Schmelzer began the week with the first three-point night of his pro career, scoring the game-winning goal and picking up two assists in a 6-4 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night. He notched a goal and an assist as Binghamton defeated Lehigh Valley, 5-1, on Saturday, and registered another assist in the Devils' 3-0 win at Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.
Schmelzer finished the week with two power-play points and two shorthanded points as Binghamton improved its record to 24-7-0-0 since the Christmas break. A second-year pro from Buffalo, N.Y., Schmelzer has totaled 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists) in 51 games for Binghamton this season after tallying 24 points in 66 contests as a rookie in 2018-19. Schmelzer joined the Devils organization following four seasons at Canisius College, where he was an all-conference selection and served as team captain as a senior.
- Jacob Bryson ranks seventh among all first-year defensemen with a plus-12 on-ice rating. Bryson, whose first two professional goals came in back-to-back games on Feb. 19 and 21 and first shorthanded marker came this past Friday, is also tied for eighth among all rookie blueliners with 25 points (4+21) in 60 games. Bryson, who has points in three straight (2+1) games for the first time in his pro career, is ninth among all rookie defensemen with 21 assists.
- The Amerks come into the matchup with points in 22 of the last 28 games against the Devils dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season. Rochester holds a 16-6-3-3 record during that span, which included a 10-game point streak.
- Binghamton returns to Rochester as arguably one of the hottest teams in the league, having won eight straight and 12 of their last 14 games to move into the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Devils have also won six straight on the road during that stretch, including shutout victories in each of their last two road matchups.
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