The first half of the 2017/2018 Rochester Americans season was recapped as a fun winning team. In the second half of the season they stayed alive, stuck with it, made it through injuries, recalls and it was enough to clinch a playoff position.
The team finished in third place in the North Division. They also finished with more losses than wins. The last time the Amerks finished in third place and had 37 wins and had more losses than wins was the 1995/1996 season. John Tortorella was the coach and they went on to win the Calder Cup.
A total of 47 players were dressed for and played in at least one game this season.
First half: 23-8-4-3 (53 PTS)
Second half: 14-14-7-3 (38 PTS)
Final record: 37-22-11-6 (91 PTS)
Other seasons where they’ve made the playoffs and lost more games than they’ve won: 1979/1980 (lost in the first round), 1997/1998 (lost in the first round), 1995/1996 (won the Calder Cup), 2001/2002 (lost in the qualifying round), 2002/2003 (lost in the qualifying round), 2013/2014 (lost in the first round).
Last time the Amerks finished w/ 91 points was the 09/10 season. The head coach at the time was Benoit Groulx, the current coach of the Syracuse Crunch. Chris Taylor was the second leading scorer on the team with 61 points (17G+44A). The first round series was against Abbotsford where Rochester lost in game 7. They had taken a 3-1 series lead before everything collapsed. Without going back into too much detail, the team was a mess internally between players and coach. This season is pure respect within the locker room.
First half standings and the end of season standings:
The Amerks finished 11th overall in the league in points percentage and 15th overall with 37 wins. They finished tied for fourth in fewest regulation losses with Syracuse and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Tuscon had 20, Lehigh Valley had 19 and Toronto had the fewest at 18.
29 overtime games (9-11 OT, 3-6 SO) for the Amerks tied the league record set by the Milwaukee Admirals in 2006-07 (9-4 OT, 6-10 SO).
Eight of the 11 overtime losses were on the road which tied a league record with Albany River Rats (2001/2002) and Ontario Reign (2016/2017).
Leaders and streaks:
Zach Redmond was the team points leader with 47 points and also assists with 32. He also finished fourth in scoring among AHL defensemen. He finished the season with 15 goals, three shy of breaking the franchise record for most goals by a defenseman of 18 set by Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti in the 1972/1973 season. Redmond also lead the team with 180 shots on net and also had a team high eight power play goals. The last time a defenseman lead the team in scoring was Mike Kostka with 55 points (16G+39A) in 2010-11.
Sahir Gill lead the team with 18 goals followed by CJ Smith, Kevin Porter and Colin Blackwell who all had 17.
No one finished with 20 goals or more for only the second time in franchise history. The first time was in 2014/2015. CJ Smith had the best chance of breaking that benchmark until he was sidelined for 19 of the last 26 games in the regular season with a lower body injury.
CJ Smith ranked third on the team with 44 points (17G+27A) through 57 games, good enough for 10th among all AHL rookies. Smith, who was named MVP of the 2018 AHL All-Star Challenge, also finished his first pro season tied for 11th in assists among all first-year players.
CJ Smith was the only player with a hattrick this season, March 18 at Hartford.
Colin Blackwell lead the team in the final month finishing with 22 points (11G+11A) and a plus-14 on-ice rating over his last 15 games for the Amerks. The second-year pro also totaled 15 points (9+6) during his career-long seven-game point streak and recorded seven multi-point outings dating back to March 11 to finish second on the team in scoring. Since Jan. 1, Blackwell had been held scoreless only nine times. He also lead the team with three short handed goals.
Linus Ullmark finished the season with a 21-12-10 record that included two shutouts in 44 games. He finished the regular season third in the AHL in saves (1,242) and seventh in minutes played (2,579) while tying for ninth with 21 wins, his second straight season with 20 or more victories. Ullmark also ranked seventh and 14th among AHL goaltenders with a .922 save percentage and a 2.44 goals-against average, respectively. On Friday, he was named the team MVP and Most Popular Player for the second straight year, becoming just the second netminder in franchise history to earn both honors in back-to-back years.
Most consecutive games: Sean Malone played in 73 straight. He missed the first three games of the season as a rookie waiting to get in his first game and once he did there was never a doubt that he’d be taken out of the lineup.
Most games: Sahir Gill played in 74. Missed one game due to illness and then the last game of the season with a lower body injury. His playoff status is unknown.
There’s a massive gap of 41 between the best and worst in the the plus/minus category. Andrew MacWilliam finished at plus 19, Matt Tennyson was a minus 22. Debate all you want about plus/minus as a stat but a massive gap like that is proof of something.
Shooting Percentage: Seth Griffith at 23.1%, 15 goals on 65 shots. Colin Blackwell was second at 19.8% with 17 goals on 86 shots.
Honorable mention to Brian Gionta who finished the season with 100% shooting percentage. One game, one shot on net, one goal.
Primary assists: Seth Griffith had a team high 19, Danny O’Regan 18, Colin Blackwell and CJ Smith both had 17, Zach Redmond, Sahir Gill and Kevin Porter each had 14.
Secondary assists: Zach Redmond had a team high 17, Alexander Nylander 15 and Stuart Percy had 14.
Highest scoring game: February 16 in a 12-3 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Amerks only had 2 shutouts and were shutout 7 times.
Dalton Smith had a team high 102 penalty minutes in 45 games. On the low end Sahir Gill played in 74 games with only 12 penalty minutes. Nylander only had 10 minutes in 51 games.
Rochester finished with 234 goals scored and allowed 221. The 234 scored was helped by a 10 goal and 12 goal game. In comparison, Syracuse also had 234 but allowed only 189. Toronto scored 254 and only allowed 170.
Power play finished 12th in the league at 18.3%
Penalty kill finished 5th at 84.1%
At the half way point of the season the power play was 11th and penalty kill was at 5th.
Injuries played a big part of the second half problems. The unofficial number that I have running for man games lost in the regular season is 251. We’ve kept a running tally going over on our injuries page. The team hasn’t released an official number and while some games may not be accounted for the number is as close as you’ll find.
Barry Goers added 63 games to that total, he last played on November 11 before a season ending injury.
Two injuries that had the biggest impact of the season were Andrew MacWilliam and Colin Blackwell. The physical defensive style of play from MacWilliam was instantly felt and the energy Blackwell brings to every game forcing plays was noticed as well.
Kyle Criscuolo and Sahir Gill out of the playoffs could prove to be bigger impacts. We’ll find out this weekend.
NHL Playing time:
There’s currently 18 players on the Amerks roster going into the playoffs that have NHL contracts. 14 of them played in at least one game in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres this season.
The 14 players and NHL games player were Casey Nelson (37), Nick Baptiste (33), Seth Griffith (21), Brendan Guhle (18), Matt Tennyson (15), Justin Bailey (12), Kyle Criscuolo (9), Taylor Fedun (7), Hudson Fasching (5), Linus Ullmark (5), Alexander Nylander (3), Zach Redmond (3), Danny O’Regan (2) and Adam Wilcox (1).
The four who didn’t get in a game were Sean Malone, CJ Smith, Kevin Porter (was called up and rewarded with NHL pay to end the season) and Eric Cornel.
First, Second, Third Period:
Scoring by period (for / against):
1st period 68-60, 2nd period 69-82, 3rd period 85-62 and overtime 9-11.
Shots by period (for / against):
1st period 783-710, 2nd period 758-824, 3rd period 723-733 and overtime 54-61.
Leading after the 1st: 15-5-3-1
Leading after the 2nd: 21-3-2-1
Tied after the 1st: 15-7-4-3
Tied after the 2nd: 20-3-2-1
Trailing after the 1st: 7-10-4-2
Trailing after the 2nd: 8-15-4-2
Out shooting opponents: 23-10-2-2
Out shot by opponents: 14-12-9-4
1 goal games: 14-4-11-6
2 goal games: 12-13-0-0
3 goal games: 8-1-0-0
That’s it for now. If you’re looking for more in depth stats like time on ice, shot attempts, shots blocked or more you won’t find them. The AHL and team don’t release a lot of stats that are tracked internally.