**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW FROM ABOVE
The Amerks come into the first full week of 2019 sitting atop the AHL’s North Division standings with a narrow two-point lead, having earned eight out of a possible 12 points in their last six contests. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers have more wins (27) than the Amerks (22), who are second overall in the AHL with a .639 points percentage through 36 games so far this season.
Zach Redmond and Lawrence Pilut have been tapped to represent the Amerks at the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic later this month. 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 tied for third-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.
RED-HOT ALL-STAR REDS
Redmond has scored a team and career-high 16 goals this season, including eight on the power-play, good enough for fifth 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 11th in the league in goals (16) and second amongst all active AHL defensemen with 30 points, while his seven game-winning goals are tops in the AHL. His 16 goals are also the most by an AHL blueliner.
BACK ON TOP
Thanks to six assists over his last six games, Victor Olofsson has a share of the team’s scoring lead to begin the New Year. A year after leading the SHL with 27 goals, Olofsson has been nearly a point-per-game player for Rochester, leading the team with 20 assists and 30 points through his first 33 games of the campaign. He’s currently tied for 19th in the AHL in assists, while his 10 goals are fifth-most among all Rochester skaters. He also ranks fifth in the league with 13 power-play assists.
REDMOND INCHING CLOSER TO HISTORY
Having set a new career-high with his 16th goal in just his 36th game of the season, Redmond is on a record-setting pace to etch his name in team and league history. 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. McSween would later go on to become the top scoring defenseman in franchise history. Redmond, who last season became just the first Amerk blueliner in seven years to lead the team in scoring, needs only two more goals to tie the single-season franchise record for the most by a defenseman of 18, set by Rick Pagnutti during the 1972-73 season. The AHL record is held by John Slaney, who netted 30 for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins during the 1999-00 campaign.
IRON MAN SIMPSON
Forward Wayne Simpson is the AHL’s current leader in consecutive games played with 223. 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.
SUCCESS AGAINST THE MARLIES
After dropping three straight games against the Marlies dating back to the 2017-18 season, the Amerks have come away with the victory in each of the last five meetings in the head- to-head series, while outscoring Toronto 27-15 over that span. In 11 of the last 14 meetings dating back to the 2016-17 season, the team that scored first has gone on to come away with the victory while the Amerks’ penalty kill has successfully killed off 32 of the 36 penalties against the Marlies dating back to last season.