**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW FROM ABOVE
The Amerks come into the week sitting atop the AHL’s North Division standings with a three-point lead on both the Syracuse Crunch and Utica Comets and seven ahead of the Toronto Marlies, all of whom joined Rochester in the postseason this past spring. The Crunch, however, have three games in hand of the Amerks while Rochester has two games in hand on Utica. The Amerks went 2-1-0-0 over this past weekend, suffering a 1-0 setback to the Crunch on Friday before posting back-to-back wins to salvage four out of a possible six points and reclaim the North Division lead. The Amerks have collected 21 out of a possible 30 points in their last 15 games, which included a season-long 10-game point streak. Rochester has also notched 29 points in its last 22 games dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers (34) have more wins than the Amerks (31), who are second overall in the AHL standings with a .644 points percentage coming into the week.
OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY
On the strength of his second four-point effort of the season on Friday, Feb. 8th, Victor Olofsson leads the club with 43 points (19+24) in 49 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 third in the AHL in game-winning goals (6) and 16th in power-play assists (13) while ranking 19th among the league’s top point-getters.
TAYLOR JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Rochester picked up its 30th win of the season by virtue of a 3-2 shootout victory over the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday, reaching the 30-win mark for the second straight season under head coach Chris Taylor. Taylor becomes the first Amerks head coach to lead his team to 30 or more wins in each of his first two seasons behind the bench since Hall of Famer Randy Cunneyworth, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history.
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.
RACE TO 20
After failing to produce a 20-goal scorer last season for just the second time in franchise history, the Amerks have five different players on pace to reach the mark in 2018-19. Olofsson needs one more goal to eclipse the mark for the second straight season while Redmond will continue his record-setting season by becoming the first defenseman in team history to score 20 or more goals. C.J. Smith, currently on recall with the Buffalo Sabres, established a new career-high with his 18th of the season prior to earning his second call-up to the big club earlier this month while Wayne Simpsonand Danny O’Regan each have 17 coming into the week. The last time Rochester had five different 20-goal scorers in the same season was during the 2000-01 campaign, which also included current Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. Prior to this season, the Amerks have had at least one player in 60 of the previous 62 years since the team’s inception in 1956 to score 20 or more goals, a streak that was sparked by Bronco Horvath’s team-leading 37 tallies during Rochester’ inaugural 1956-57 season. The 2014-15 and 2017-18 campaigns remain the only two seasons in the 63-year history of the franchise that failed to produce a 20-goal scorer.
Despite missing the last 10 games due to injury, Redmond has scored a team and career-high 19 goals through 41 games, including nine on the power-play, good enough for 10th 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 second among 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.
A WEDGE-WALL BETWEEN THE PIPES
Rochester goaltender Scott Wedgewood (18-9-2), whoearned his 10th win in the last 13 games, established a new career-high with his 18th overall win on Sunday afternoon as he stopped 27 of 28 shots he faced. In four of his last five starts during the month of February, the sixth-year netminder, who won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, has stopped 108 of 112 shots he faced and allowed one goal. Over that span, he’s posted a 2-2-1 record with a 1.58 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage to help the Amerks remain in first place in the AHL’s North Division. He comes into the week tied for third among all AHL goaltenders in shutouts (3) while his career-high 18 wins are tied for fifth.
At 15-6-3-1 (34 points), Rochester has the third-best road record in the AHL and have the third-most regulation wins away from home with 15. The Amerks remain one of just two teams in AHL this season with only six regulation losses on the road having collected at least one point in 19 of their 25 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into this week, the Amerks have won nine of their last 15 road contests dating back to their 4-3 win at Syracuse on Dec. 8 while also outscoring the opposition 46-39 over that span.
The Amerks continue a busy stretch of four games over the next six days on Wednesday when the Cleveland Monsters make their second trip of the season to The Blue Cross Arena. More importantly, Wednesday’s matchup will be the sixth of 11 straight Divisional games for the Amerks, who will travel to Utica twice before the end of the month with a home contest with the Belleville Senators in-between.
SLAYING THE MONSTERS
With a 4-1-0-0 mark through the first five games of the eight-game season-series against the Cleveland Monsters this season, the Amerks show an impressive 24-6-2-3 record in their last 35 games against the Monsters since the start of the 2011-12 season. In the last five years, Rochester also holds a 10-2-1-0 record.