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Amerks Weekly Report

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**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.

RED-HOT REDS

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.

ALL-STAR BOUND

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. 

ROAD WARRIORS

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.

Williamsville’s Sidorski Experiencing Division I A Year Early

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By Warren Kozireski–

Union College freshman defenseman Ryan Sidorski will turn 20 years old later this year, but he is a year ahead of the planned schedule for jumping junior hockey to the ECAC.

Originally slated to play for Sioux Falls in the USHL this season after his six-game cup of coffee in 2017-18 in between his Buffalo Jr. Sabres season, he is now a member of the Dutchmen.

“I think I’ve definitely been improving since the beginning of the year,” Sidorski said. “It’s definitely an adjustment from junior to college coming in a year early. I got a call from Coach (Rick) Bennett over the summer saying they needed me to come in a year early and I did.”

The 6’2”, 195 lb. blueliner had played in nine games this season as of Jan. 17 and was still looking for his first collegiate point, but Union eighth year head coach and former NHL winger Rick Bennett has been happy with Sidorski’s development to this point.

“He’s working with the penalty kill and a regular shift five-on-five and he just plays hard and does the right things on the ice as well as off the ice,” Bennett said after a game in St. Lawrence.

“He’s a younger guy as far as his age coming into the program because we needed him and he’s done a real nice job for us.

“We wanted a defenseman who could take care of his own end, a penalty kill guy, some size that played a physical game and, as far as the physical side, I don’t think we’re going to see his best until probably sophomore year second half or maybe even junior year once he starts to really grow into his body.

“We’re expecting some good things from him.”

When he was in the line-up, the coaching staff was already entrusting him in penalty kill situations—even part a long five-on-three kill on the road, so the level of confidence that he is up to the challenge is growing.

The Williamsville South and Amherst Youth Hockey product also played with the Buffalo Regals and, most recently, the Jr. Sabres last year except for those six games in Sioux Falls.

“I wanted to stay home and finish my high school and they gave me an opportunity to play a couple of games (in the USHL) and get used to it and the plan was to come the following (this) year.

“The coaches for the Jr. Sabres helped me out a lot. Matt Ellis is a great skills guy who worked with me throughout the season and I got a lot better. And Nick Tuzzolino is a great defensive coach.”

Athletics runs in the Sidorski family as his sister, Elizabeth, is a star field hockey player at South and is going to play at the collegiate level this fall.

So who is the better athlete?

“Honestly, her; she’s pretty impressive.”

Spahn: A Name Connected With Hockey AND Baseball

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

To anyone over 50 who is from the Buffalo, NY area, hearing the name Spahn has significant meaning. To most it conjures up the image of Baseball Hall of Famer Warren Spahn.

Spahn is the winningest left-handed pitcher in baseball history. He won 20 or more games 13 times and was a Cy Young Award winner.

Today, in the 21st century, the name Spahn has a bit of a different meaning. To anyone who follows boys high school hockey or college hockey in the Western New York area the last name today means Paul Spahn.

Is there a connection?

“Warren Spahn was my great-uncle,” said Paul, a freshman goalie on the Erie Community College men’s hockey team. “I never really had a chance to meet him because he passed away when I was about two or three years old.

“But over the years I’ve heard all about the great things he did and how great of a baseball player he was and how great a person he was.”

Knowing about his great-uncle, did Paul ever have any thoughts about playing baseball or concentrating on a baseball career?

“I played the game when I was younger,” recalled Paul, the son of Paul and Wendy Spahn of East Aurora, NY. “But I got too busy with hockey and football.”

So just how did young Paul get started in hockey?

“I started playing hockey in my grandma’s kitchen with a spoon,” remembered Paul, a 2018 graduate of East Aurora High School, where he played hockey and football. “When I got to my third or fourth birthday my parents got me a pair of skates.

“I took skating lessons and since that time I’ve been playing hockey.”

Paul has been a goalie in hockey since he was six.

“I like the game being on your shoulders,” said the 5-9, 230-pound netminder for the ECC Kats. “If you play well the team will do good. If you don’t, well, the responsibility falls back on you.

“You have to deal with the ups and downs of the game and the pressure that goes with it. I like the pressure.”

While growing up Paul played for several different hockey organizations in the Western New York area including the Southtowns Stars Amateur Hockey Association, Cazenovia Park Hockey Association and the Bud Bakewell Bruins (now known as the Ice Hawks), as well as high school hockey while attending East Aurora HS.

Interestingly, Paul was going to take a year off from school after his high school graduation. But a funny thing happened to Paul while riding in a car on his way back after his East Aurora/Holland hockey team had won the New York State Club School Small School State Championship for 2017-18.

“On the car ride back from Jamestown, I began asking myself if I really wanted to quick playing hockey at this point in my life,” commented Paul, who is a criminal justice major at ECC.  “So I decided that I was going to go and play college hockey.

“My sister had gone to ECC. So I thought I could go to ECC for a couple of years and if that worked out I could go on to a four-year college. And I could continue playing hockey at the same time.”

Paul is very proud to carry the name Spahn.

“I did a report on Warren Spahn back in third grade,” said Paul. “It was like his life story. So I’ve always had a pretty good idea of what he accomplished.

“When I was real small, he sent me a couple of baseball cards and a letter that was signed by him. I think it is cool that while I never knew him, he knew about me.

“And I have to admit that he has been an inspiration for me along the way. He’s inspired me to try and do the best I can at anything I try.”

UNYCHL Update

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The top 3 teams in each division qualify for playoffs (3at2, winner at 1 the same weekend). From there 4 teams advance to Rochester for the final four (seeding based on ACHA rankings for tournament). The league will send at least (1) team to regionals in Albany.

West:

ECC and Fredonia are both 7-1. Fredonia beat ECC 8-4 earlier this year. They meet again 2/9 with the winner likely to be #1 seed. The #2 seed will likely host UB. UB (5-4) is likely to be #3 seed as only Gannon University can catch them.

Fingerlakes:

St Bonaventure (7-1) has secured the #1 seed. Their only loss was to Brockport (4-2) as Brockport and Geneseo (4-2) are destined to face each other in round one.

Central:

Binghamton (5-0) pretty much has #1 secured. Defending champion Hamilton (4-2) lost both meetings to Binghamton so BU would need to lose out to drop. The #3 seed remains open as LeMoyne (2-3) is currently ahead of Syracuse and Onondaga Community College.

East:

Both Clarkson and Union were undefeated heading into last weekend’s Clarkson 6-5 win. They meet again on 1/26. The #2 seed will likely host Albany who has played both teams extremely tough so far (2 shootout and (1) one goal losses so far)

Manhattanville’s Lopes Named MAC Offensive Player of the Week

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LANNVILLE, PA. — Sophomore forward Tianna Lopes (West Vancouver, British Columbia/Pacific Steelers (JWHL)) of the Manhattanville College women’s ice hockey team was selected as the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Offensive Player of the Week, the conference announced today, Monday, Jan. 21.

The Valiant winger helped lead her squad to a 5-2 win over Trinity College this past Tuesday, Jan. 15, with a pair of special teams goals — one on the powerplay and one shorthanded. Lopes and the Valiants then played to a series split with United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) rival William Smith College over the weekend. She notched an assist during the 4-2 win over the Herons Saturday, Jan. 19, and then assisted on all three Manhattanville goals in a tough 6-3 loss Sunday afternoon, Jan. 20.

This is Lopes first-career MAC weekly honor.

She and the rest of the squad will now take the rest of January off before resuming competition at Playland Ice Casino in Rye, N.Y., for a UCHC weekend series against Neumann University. The Knights come to town Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2-3, for 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. scheduled puck-drops, respectively. Additionally, Valiant women’s hockey will also host its annual Alumnae Day that Saturday.

Buffalo’s Polino Pacing RPI Offense

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By Warren Kozireski —

Former Canisius High, St. Francis High and Buffalo Regal Patrick Polino has already surpassed the number of goals he scored combined in his first two years at RPI. Through the first 22 games in this, his junior season, Polino led the Engineers with seven goals—six of those coming against ECAC conference opponents.

He netted four goals in his freshman year and two last season. He is now being rewarded for his knowledge as an upperclassmen and for his style of play.

“Patrick is coachable and tries to do the right thing and is he does it with his skill set—he knows the game, knows what we’re trying to do and almost all of his goals are a byproduct of chemistry with his line and things that we practice a lot with him and with our team,” Rensselaer second year head coach Dave Smith said.

“I love that he gets rewarded for doing the right thing. Patrick Polino tries to play the game the way we coach it and I love that about him. He’s in the right position, if he makes a mistake he doesn’t get down and comes back and tries to do the right thing and it’s nice when other players can see that focus on playing the right way.”

Polino had a career high two-goal game Oct. 26 against Union College and duplicated that mark with a pair Jan. 11 at St. Lawrence.

“I have found some chemistry with my two linemates (Ture Linden and Ottoville Leppanen); we’ve been together most of the year and they do a great job of working hard down low and finding me with the puck, so it’s been great so far,” Polino said after January contest.

The Business and Management major was just a handful of games from hitting the 100 career games mark.He is also consistently among the leaders this season for the Engineers in shot blocks per game and is focused on taking more shots this year.

“I spent a lot of time on my shot this summer and it’s been something of emphasis—I wanted to get more shots this year and get more shots through and on net. It’s important for me to play well in the d-zone and try to be a 200-foot player, get blocks and then get in the offensive zone and shoot the puck and it’s paying off this year.”

The 5’9”, 170 lb. winger spent part or all of five years after his developmental time in Buffalo with three teams in the United States Hockey League—Chicago, Green Bay and Lincoln where, over his final two seasons, he netted 64 points in 99 games even with missing the latter part of 2015-16 due to injury.

“When I was younger I visited a couple of times and as I got older laying in the USHL they called me again and I loved the campus, the hockey and everything, so it was a nice fit. Plus being close to home I had been so far away for so long moving away at 16, so it was nice to be able to come home, so it’s been fun.”

RPI made a coaching change after Polino’s freshman season and he did not envision being part of a changing hockey culture with a new staff, but he is embracing that leadership role.

“Coach always talks about that we want to leave it better than (when) we came in. It hasn’t been the most successful couple of years, but I think we’re heading in the right direction and it’s nice to be a part of it.”

Phantoms Add WNY Native Hora To Roster

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Lehigh Valley, Pa. – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, proud AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, have announced today they have added two players to the roster. Defenseman Frank Hora has been recalled from the Reading Royals of the ECHL, and forward Josh MacDonald has been signed to an AHL Pro Try-Out. 
Hora, 22, has played 38 games for the Reading Royals and has notched seven points this season. He has played 100 games over the last two years for the Royals and totaled 21 points (1g, 20a) and a +28 rating. He led Reading with a +23 rating last season.

A native of Amherst, New York, Hora signed a one-year, AHL contract with Lehigh Valley on July 20, 2018. The 6-foot-1 defenseman played in eight games for the Phantoms last season with a +3 rating. He also played three games for the Cleveland Monsters on a PTO during the 2016-17 season.
Prior to turning pro, Hora played four seasons in the OHL for the Kitchener Rangers where he tallied 91 points (11g, 80a) and 235 penalty minutes in 241 career games. He was teammates with Phantoms’ forwards Connor Bunnaman and Justin Bailey in Kitchener.

Congratulations On 300 Games Coached

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The Stony Brook University Seawolves Men’s Hockey Team | ACHA Division One | ESCHL Champions ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16.

Duo celebrate 300 games coached with the Seawolves.

LID, Monsignor Martin and Williamsville Score Wins

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Sydney Olschewski Made 27 Saves in a 4-1 Victory Over Cash

Victories for Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew, Monsignor Martin and Williamsville over the past two nights in WNYGVIH play.

LID had an 11 goal shutout over Niagara County Wednesday night at Holiday. Jersey Phillips having 3 goals and an assist in the win. Other scorers included Morganne Dee, Cassie Borowski, Sydney Radecki, Bethany Horvatis, Summer Cole, Madelyn Braun and Hailey Keppner.

Dylan Gorski and MacKernzie Walkowiak shared goaltending duties with Gorski playing 15 minutes and making four saves and Walkowiak playing 30 minutes with three saves.

Niagara County’s Annie Riek faced 45 shots on goal.

In what was noted as the Game of the Week it was Monsignor Martin 4, Frontier/LakeShore/Orchard Park 1 at Hamburg Nike Arena Thursday evening.

The scoring came from Jackie Klawon, Riley Malicki, MacKenzie Blake, and Moira Michalski with assists from Michalski and Alyssa Piazza. In goal and giving an extraordinary performance (according to sources at the game) was Isabella Battaglia making 25 of 26 sog.

FLOP’s Brooke Becker had the lone goal, assisted by Mary Kromer. Maggie Spyche made 24 saves on 28 sog.

MM is now 10-2-1 and FLOP 10-1-1 as the League heads toward playoff time.

At the Northtown Center it was Williamsville (10-2-0) 4 – 1 over Clarence/Amherst/SweetHome (4-8-0). Emma Roland started the scoring in the first period and Elisabeth Sidorski added the second with the first period ending 2-0.

Jenna Cavalieri scored the lone goal in the second and the third period opened 3-0 in favor of Williamsville.

CASH got on the board in the third when Allison Green scored on a powerplay, assisted by Emma Faso. However, Williamsville answered back with a goal by Vanessa Willick. That ended the game.

CASH’s Kylie Paige made 29 saves on 32 sog and Sydney Olschewski made 27 of 28 for Williamsville.

Williamsville honored Seniors Elisabeth Sidorski and Kylie Rosen prior to the game.

(The following photo gallery is from the CASH vs Williamsville game.)

Future Sabres: Jacob Bryson

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By Warren Kozireski —

Offensive defensemen are becoming more and more of a commodity in the modern National Hockey League and the Buffalo Sabres have stockpiled several including 2017 fourth round draft pick Jacob Bryson, a junior with the Providence College Friars.

Despite a recent offensive dry spell, the 5’9”, 185 lb. led all Friar blueliners with three goals and 11 assists through the first 21 games this season and was +11.

“I need to grow as a player, develop as a leader and get harder on these guys and speak up more in the dressing room,” Bryson said in late-December. “They (the Sabres) have a bunch of other “D” so it’s going to be tough, but they have good coaching.”

A 2017-18 Second Team All-American after registering a 25 point campaign, he wore an “A” as a sophomore and now one of three captains for Providence this season.

“A little (surprised at being selected); being a junior I didn’t expect it, but at the same time we have a bunch of leaders on our team.”

“I usually give a junior an “A” expecting them to be a captain as a senior,” Providence head coach Nate Leaman said. “We debated all summer who should become the “C”. Jacob’s play speaks for itself…and any one of them could wear a “C” on any team I’ve ever coached.”

Bryson is the rare Canadian (London, Ontario) who decided to play junior hockey in the USHL after playing prep hockey in the U.S.

“I never got drafted in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and then I went to prep school and I kind of just fell in love with it from there and it kind of just took off,” Bryson said. “I went to Omaha and was recruited out of prep school and I ended up at Providence.

“I’ve loved every step of the way because Omaha was awesome and Providence has been such a great ride. I guess I developed more as I got older and I wasn’t the best player at a young age. It’s tough being away from your parents, but it’s nice to be different from those other guys who played in the OHL.”

Not only is Bryson serving a veteran role with Providence, he now is an experienced NHL training camp attendee after his second this past summer with the Sabres.

“It was good. Buffalo is a nice city to go to get a week down there developing and their staff does an amazing job at keeping in touch with their players. At camp we worked on little things and I think every player there got better. It was nice to meet other players and meet new friends.”

Those development camps came after he was selected by Buffalo in 2017, something he saw on television back home.

“It was amazing to see my name and it kind of surprised me because I was looking more toward the end of the draft. And I’m so excited for where I landed. My whole family was watching it kind of casually and then it popped up…so it was a great day.”

Size has been an issue throughout his hockey career, but Bryson is thankful and hopeful that the recent NHL trend toward speed and mobility will allow him the opportunity other defensemen from past decades did not have.

“Being a small guy I try to play physical because that is also a big part of the game, but it’s moving more toward more offensive, smaller guys that can play so it’s kind of a good fit.”

SUNYAC Names Men’s Hockey Weekly Awards

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CORTLAND, N.Y. – The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) has selected the recipients for its weekly awards in men’s ice hockey. Oswego freshman Josh Leblanc (Inverary, Ont.) is the Player of the Week, Cortland junior Nick Modica (Suffern, N.Y.) is the Goaltender of the Week, and Brockport freshman Jeremy Solat (Centeniall, CO) is the Rookie of the Week.

Leblanc’s second and third collegiate goals were tallied against Utica and Elmira Colleges in the Lakers’ 1-0-1 weekend. LeBlanc’s first goal opened the second period, as he was able to clean up after a Tanner Spink shot that was padded away by the Utica goaltender, tying the game at 2-2. The contest would end in a 3-3 OT tie. In Saturday’s 4-1 defeat of Elmira, LeBlanc broke the Lakers’ scoreless contest, eight minutes into the third period, as Tanner Spink flipped a pass from the Oswego zone to center ice where Josh Zizek fended off the Elmira defender and tapped a pass to LeBlanc. The Inverary, Ont. native then broke into the Elmira zone all alone and flipped a shot over the Soaring Eagle goalie to tie the score at 1-1.

Modica continued his impressive play in goal for the Red Dragons, posting a 1-0 record with a 1.13 GAA, 74 saves and a .974 save percentage in two games last weekend. In a 2-1 victory versus Elmira on Friday, Modica registered 42 saves, including a sprawling stop on a shot from the right side of the crease with seconds remaining to secure the victory. He then came off the bench and turned aside 32 of the 33 shots he faced in 45:58 in a setback versus Nazareth on Saturday. For the season, Modica has a 7-6 record with a 2.47 GAA and a .933 save percentage.

Brockport’s Solat  had a solid weekend for the Golden Eagles, scoring two goals in the teams 7-3 victory over Lebanan Valley College Saturday evening. The redshirt sophomore scored the go-ahead goal in the first period and added on a power play goal in the third for his fourth of the season.

Flyers Acquire Buffalo, NY Native Justin Bailey From Sabres

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Flyers Acquire Right Wing Justin Bailey from Buffalo.
Philadelphia trades forward Taylor Leier to the Sabres

Lehigh Valley, Pa. – The Philadelphia Flyers, NHL affiliate of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms announced today they have acquired Justin Bailey from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Taylor Leier.

Bailey, 23, has played 37 games in the American Hockey League this season for the Rochester Americans totaling 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists.

A native of Buffalo, Bailey has split time between Rochester and Buffalo in each of the last three seasons. He played in 12 games for the Sabres last year, recording three goals and an assist for four points. In 52 career NHL games, all with Buffalo, Bailey has five goals and three assists for eight points.

The 6-foot-4 winger was a 20-goal scorer in each of his first two AHL seasons, posting 20 goals and 25 assists for 45 points in 75 games in 2015-16 and then picking up 23 goals and 13 assists for 46 points in 53 games a year later. Bailey has tallied 62 goals, 54 assists and 116 points in 196 games for the Rochester Americans.

Prior to turning pro, Bailey played three years in the Ontario Hockey League with Kitchener and Sault Ste. Marie, where he totaled 75 goals and 73 assists for 148 points in 168 career games. He was selected by the Sabres in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Taylor Leier, 24, had 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season. He has totaled 136 points in 226 games for the Phantoms over the last five seasons and ranks second in Lehigh Valley history in games played.

Future Islanders: Collin Adams

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By Warren Kozireski —

It is sometimes said that National Hockey League teams will select projects or reaches with their later round draft picks in the annual entry draft.

Consider New York Islander 2016 sixth round selection and current University of North Dakota sophomore Collin Adams one of those.

Size has always been an issued for the 5’9”, 172 lb. winger, but the game is changing. And teams can always use offense as his 51 goals and 61 assists in 120 seasons combined over two seasons showed he can do.

It’s just taken a little while to transition that offensive success to one of the best college hockey conferences in the nation.

“It’s going good; I’ve got a lot more playing time,” Adams said about his second collegiate season early in the New Year. “Freshman year is a struggle learning the ways and picking up the speed.

“Everyone is bigger, stronger and the goalies are better, so you’re not going to get as many chances or as much time as you used to so I just need to make them count when I get them.”

The 20-year old Brighton, Michigan native is a product of the Little Caesars & Honeybaked programs in the Detroit area. He traveled just 150 miles from home advance his junior hockey career in Muskegon where he was named to the All-Rookie team in 2015-16.

Adams missed one of the Islanders three development camps since he was drafted due to classroom obligations at school, but the most recent in 2018 proved impactful.

“Coaches liked how I played, so they just told me to keep getting better and stuff like that. Not being drafted as high you’re not in the spotlight, but I think it obviously motivates you. People don’t really think of sixth rounders as too dangerous as draft picks, but I’m trying to make a name for myself.”

How he is described as a player who is a hard worker with a heavy shot, but that is not all he brings to the ice.

“I would say it’s a good summary, but I would probably say my biggest asset is my speed. Definitely being a smaller guy you have to be quicker than the bigger guys, so I would definitely say hard working with a lot of speed and a good shot.

“The past few years (hockey) has changed to faster and more skilled, so that’s definitely helped smaller guys like (Johnny) Gaudreau and Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson; guys like that who wouldn’t have had a shot in the older days when it was just big bodies, but it’s helped us smaller guys make a transition into the league.”

Islanders Director of Player Development Eric Cairns called Adams to tell him he was selected.

“I was at my buddy’s house and we kind of had the draft on, but we weren’t too into it and took a nap and I woke up and next thing you know my name pops up. It was kind of crazy; I woke up my buddy and it was kind of a surreal feeling.”

Some players set specific goals at the start of every season and Adams has those, just not rigid ones.

“I do have goals, obviously to move on from the collegiate level to somewhere in the pros, but nothing too particular where it’s too nit-picky. Day by day trying to tell better and hopefully impress the right people.”

Saturday’s Bears Men’s Hockey Game Moved To 3 p.m.

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Saturday’s Bears men’s hockey game vs. Morrisville moved to a 3 p.m. start

Men’s Ice HockeyThe SUNY Potsdam men’s hockey home game against Morrisville State this Saturday, Jan. 19, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. has been moved up to a 3 p.m. start. Tomorrow night’s game will still take place at 7 p.m.