**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW FROM ABOVE
The Amerks come into the week sitting atop the AHL’s North Division standings with a two-point lead on the Syracuse Crunch and five ahead of both the Toronto Marlies and Utica Comets, all of whom joined Rochester in the postseason this past spring. The Crunch, however, have two games in hand of the Amerks while Rochester has games in hand of both Toronto and Utica. The Amerks have collected 17 out of a possible 22 points in their last 11 games, which included a season-long 10-game point streak, and have 25 points in their last 18 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers (32) have more wins than the Amerks (29), who are third overall in the Eastern Conference with a .656 points percentage coming into the week.
OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY
On the strength of his second four-point effort of the season on Friday highlighted by his first career hat trick, Victor Olofsson leads the club with 43 points (19+24) in 45 games this season and is one of just two Rochester skaters to surpass the 40-point mark. A year after pacing the SHL with 27 goals, Olofsson has been averaging nearly a point-per-game, leading the team with 24 assists while sharing the team-lead in goals (19). Olofsson, who earned CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for October, is also tied for second in the AHL in game-winning goals (6) and 14th in power-play assists (13) while ranking 15th among the league’s top point-getters. He hasn’t gone more than three straight games without a point all season.
C.J. REMAINS IN BUFFALO
Prior to earning his second NHL recall to the Buffalo Sabres last Monday, C.J. Smith recorded 22 points (11+11) in his last 16 games with Rochester dating back to Dec. 14. Smith, who scored his second goal in as many games with the big club on Monday, has scored a career-high 18 goals while his 23 assists rank second-most on the club. Smith has 41 points in 41 games this season for Rochester, tying him for 17th among the league’s top scorers.
RECORD BELONGS TO REDMOND
Veteran defenseman Zach Redmond broke the 46-year-old single-season franchise record for most goals by a defenseman back on Jan. 23, scoring his team-leading 19th goal of the season in a 7-5 win over the Binghamton Devils at The Blue Cross Arena. The 30-year-old blueliner surpassed Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti,who set the original mark with 18 goals during the 1972-73 campaign. He’ll also become the first defenseman in the 63-year history of the franchise to reach the 20-goal mark on his next goal. Redmond also remains on pace to tie the AHL record of 30, set by John Stanley during the 1990-00 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Redmond has scored a team and career-high 19 goals, including nine on the power-play, good enough for seventh 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 leading all AHL defenseman with 39 points, while his eight game-winning goals are tops in the AHL. His 19 goals and 138 shots are also the most by an AHL blueliner this season.
STAYING BUSY BETWEEN THE PIPES
Rochester goaltender Scott Wedgewood (17-7-2)has gotten the nod in 13 of the last 21 games for the Amerks, going 9-3-1 over that span while winning eight of his last 10 dating back to a 31-save shutout at Cleveland the day after Christmas. 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) while his career-high 17 wins are tied for fifth.
At 14-5-3-1 (32 points), Rochester has the third-best road record in the AHL and have the third-most regulation wins away from home with 14. The Amerks remain the only AHL team this season with only five regulation losses on the road having collected at least one point in 18 of their 23 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into this week, the Amerks have won eight of their last 12 road contests dating back to their 4-3 win at Syracuse on Dec. 8 while also outscoring the opposition 41-32 over that span.
The Amerks begin a busy week with four games over the next six days on Tuesday when they visit the Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. More importantly, Tuesday’s matchup will be the second of 11 straight Divisional games for the Amerks, who will face Syracuse on back-to-back nights as part of a home-and-home series before hosting Binghamton on Sunday afternoon to close out their three-in-three weekend.
SLAYING THE MONSTERS
With a perfect 4-0-0-0 mark through the first four games of the eight-game season-series against the Cleveland Monsters this season, the Amerks shows an impressive 24-5-2-3 record in their last 34 games against the Monsters since the start of the 2011-12 season. In the last five years, Rochester also holds a 10-1-1-0 record.