**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, four ahead of the Toronto Marlies and six ahead of the 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 a game in hand on both Toronto and Utica. The Amerks went 2-1-0-0 over this past week, opening with back-to-back wins to take four out of a possible six points before seeing their four-game win streak halted in a 5-3 loss to Belleville on Saturday. The Amerks have collected 25 out of a possible 36 points in their last 18 games as well as 33 points in their last 25 dating back to a 4-0 shutout win in Cleveland on Dec. 26. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers (36) have more wins than the Amerks (33), who are third overall in the AHL with a .645 points percentage coming into the last week of February.
OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY
On the strength of his second four-point effort of the season back on Feb. 8, Victor Olofsson leads the club with 46 points (20+26) in 52 games this season and is one of just three Rochester skaters to surpass the 40-point mark. A year after pacing the SHL with 27 goals, Olofsson also leads the team with 26 assists and ranks second in goals (20) as he reached the 20-goal plateau for the second straight season. 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 14th in power-play assists (15) while ranking 19th among the league’s top point-getters.
RACE TO 20
After failing to produce a 20-goal scorer last season for just the second time in franchise history, the Amerks could potentially have five by the season’s end. Redmond continued his record-setting season by becoming the first defenseman in team history to score 20 goals on Wednesday, while Victor Olofsson eclipsed the mark for the second straight season on Friday. Wayne Simpson has a career-high of 19 while C.J. Smith and Danny O’Reganeach have 18 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.
With 15 points (5+10) over his last seven games, which includes nine (3+6) in the last four outings, Redmond has scored a team and career-high 21 goals through 44 games, including 10 on the power-play, good enough for 10th in the league in that category. Redmond, who is nearly averaging a point-per-game and had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, enters the week leading all AHL defenseman with 45 points while his 21 goals and 157 shots are also the most by an AHL blueliner this season. His nine game-winning goals are tops in the AHL.
A WEDGE-WALL BETWEEN THE PIPES
Rochester goaltender Scott Wedgewood,whose won 12 of his last 15 games, earned his 20th win of the season Friday night as he made 16 saves. The sixth-year netminder, who won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, has allowed one goal-against in four of his last seven starts during the month of February, stopping 153 of 162 shots he faced. Over that span, he’s posted a 4-2-1 record with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .933 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 20 wins are tied for second.
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. After returning to the Amerks lineup following an 11-game absence, Redmond became the first defenseman in the 63-year history of the franchise to reach the 20-goal mark with his first-period goal on Wednesday Feb. 20. The veteran defenseman also remains on pace to tie the AHL record of 30, set by John Stanley during the 1990-00 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
At 16-6-3-1 (36 points), Rochester has the second-best road record in the AHL and have the second-most regulation wins away from home with 16. The Amerks also have the fewest regulation road losses in the AHL this season with six, having collected at least one point in 20 of their 26 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into this week, the Amerks have won 10 of their last 16 road contests dating back to their 4-3 win at Syracuse on Dec. 8 while also outscoring the opposition 50-41 over that span.
The Amerks bring the month of February to a close with a return trip back to Utica on Wednesday, Feb. 27 to exchange pleasantries with the Comets for the second time in less than a week at Adirondack Bank Center. The 7:00 p.m. North Division matchup will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV. Wednesday’s matchup will be the ninth of 11 straight Divisional games for the Amerks, who open the month of March with a home-and-home series with the Syracuse Crunch.