**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW FROM ABOVE
The Amerks come into the week sitting atop the AHL’s North Division standings with a narrow one-point lead, having earned 13 out of a possible 20 points in their last 10 contests, which includes three of four from this past weekend’s trek through Pennsylvania. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers have more wins (30) than the Amerks (24), who are second overall in the Eastern Conference with a .638 points percentage leading up to next week’s annual AHL All-Star break.
LEIER JOINS AMERKS, DEBUTS AGAINST FORMER TEAM
The Buffalo Sabres acquired forward Taylor Leier from the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday in exchange for Justin Bailey. After missing Friday’s game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Leier made his Amerks debut Saturday at Lehigh Valley, recording one shot on goal against his former team. Prior to joining Rochester, Leier recorded 19 points (10+9) in 34 AHL games with the Phantoms and has totaled 136 points (56+80) in 227 career AHL games. In 2017, he was named the Most Valuable Player at the AHL All-Star Classic.
C.J. PILING ON THE POINTS
Second-year forward C.J. Smith carries a career-long six-game point streak (5+5) into the week and ranks second among all Amerk point-getters with 35 points (16+19) in 36 games this season. Dating back to Dec. 14, the 2018 AHL All-Star MVP has posted 16 points (9+7) and four multi-point outings over his last 11 games, including a career-high four-point effort on Jan. 12 in Toronto which came just days after scoring his first NHL goal during a four-game stint with the Buffalo Sabres.
Zach Redmond has scored a team and career-high 18 goals this season, including nine on the power-play, good enough for third in the league in that category. Redmond, who had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, enters the week tied for 10th in the league in goals (18) and leading all AHL defensemen with a team-high 36 points, while his seven game-winning goals are tops in the AHL. His 18 goals and 135 shots are also the most by an AHL blueliner this season.
Zach Redmond and Lawrence Pilut will represent the Amerks at the upcoming 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic. Pilut earns his first trip to the annual event after posting 22 points (3+19) despite only appearing in 16 AHL games prior to being recalled by Buffalo on Nov. 21. The former SHL Defenseman of the Year has a team-best plus-19 on-ice rating that is fourth-best in the AHL. Redmond, 30, earns his first trip back to the AHL All-Classic since 2012 when he was a member of the St. John’s IceCaps.
REDMOND ON THE BRINK OF HISTORY
With 18 goals on the season, Redmond will set the franchise’s new single-season record for goals by a defenseman with his next goal, surpassing the mark set by Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti during the 1972-73 season. Earlier this season, he became the fastest Amerks defenseman to score 10 goals in the fewest amount of games to begin the season since Amerks Hall of Famer Don McSween reached the mark in his first 21 games during the 1989-90 campaign. Redmond bested the mark, needing only 14 games. He’s also on pace to become the first defenseman in franchise history to reach the 20-goal mark. Additionally, the veteran blueliner is also on pace to permanently etch his name in league history as he needs just 12 more goals to tie John Slaney’s AHL record of 30, set back in 1999-00 with Wilke-Barre/Scranton.
IRON MAN SIMPSON
Forward Wayne Simpson is the AHL’s current leader in consecutive games played with 227. Prior to joining the Amerks, the Boxborough, Mass., native appeared in all 76 regular-season games with the Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins over each of the last two seasons, in addition to 35 straight appearances for the Portland Pirates dating back to the 2015-16 campaign.
STAYING BUSY BETWEEN THE PIPES
Rochester goaltender Scott Wedgewood (15-7-1) has gotten the nod in 10 of the last 13 games for the Amerks, going 7-3-0 over that span, which included a four-game win streak. After dropping his first two games of the season, the sixth-year netminder won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, matching the career-best mark he set while backstopping the Albany Devils during the 2015-16 season. He enters the week tied for third among all AHL goaltenders in shutouts (3) and fourth in wins (15). Wedgewood’s 25 appearances this season are 10th-most in the league while his 1,386 minutes are 11th. He’s just one shutout and one win away from tying a career-best.
At 12-4-2-1 (27 points), Rochester has the second-best road record in the AHL and have the fourth-most regulation wins away from home with 11. The Amerks remain one of just two AHL teams this season with only four regulation losses on the road having collected at least one point in 15 of their 19 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into this week, the Amerks have won six of their last nine road contests dating back to their 4-3 win at Syracuse on Dec. 8 while also outscoring the opposition 29-20 over that span.