**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW FROM ABOVE
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 the Crunch avoid the weekend sweep as they gave Rochester a 4-1 loss Sunday afternoon. Rochester comes into the week in a first-place tie with Syracuse, as the two teams sport nearly identical records with Rochester having one more regulation loss and having played one more game than the Crunch. Rochester currently sits six points ahead of third-place Toronto and have an eight-point lead on both Utica and Belleville, who are locked in a two-way tie for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division coming into the week. The Amerks have collected 29 out of a possible 42 points in their last 21 games and have notched 37 points in their last 28 dating back Dec. 26. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers (38) have more wins than the Amerks (35), who are fourth overall in the AHL with a .647 points percentage.
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 or more by the season’s end. Zach Redmond continued his record-setting season by becoming the first defenseman in team history to score 20 goals on Feb. 20 against Cleveland, while Victor Olofsson eclipsed the mark for the second straight season two nights later before C.J. Smith completed the feat this past Saturday in Syracuse. Wayne Simpson has scored a career-high 19 goals, Danny O’Regan has 18 coming into the week and Taylor Leier, fresh off a two-goal outing over the weekend, is approaching his first 20-goal season since the 2015-16 campaign. The last time Rochester had five different 20-goal scorers in the same season was during the 2000-01 campaign, which included Chris Taylor. The Amerks are one of just three AHL teams this season (Springfield and Syracuse) to have three different players with 20 or more goals.
OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY
Coming off his seventh game-winning goal to close out the month of February, which is tied for second-most in the league behind only teammate Zach Redmond, forward Victor Olofsson leads the club with 48 points (21+27) in 55 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 paces the team with 27 assists and shares the team lead with 21 goals. Olofsson, who earned CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for October, is also tied for 14th in the AHL in power-play assists (15) while ranking 18th among the league’s top point-getters.
With 17 points (5+12) over his last 10 games, which includes six multi-point efforts during that span, Redmond has scored a team and career-high 21 goals through 47 games, including 10 on the power-play, good enough for 10th in the league in that category. Redmond, who is currently averaging more than a point-per-game and had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, continues to lead all AHL defenseman with 47 points while his 21 goals and 167 shots are also the most by an AHL blueliner this season. In addition, his nine game-winning goals are tops in the AHL.
CAREER-YEAR FOR C.J.
Coming off his ninth multi-point effort last Saturday in Syracuse, which included his 20th goal of the season, C.J. Smith has been piling up the points on an absolute torrid pace. The second-year pro has amassed a whopping 28 points (14+14) over his last 24 games dating back to Dec. 5, having been held scoreless just five times over that span. He also posted a season-long nine-game point streak in that time. The Des Moines, Iowa, native is just one of three Amerks skaters to reach the 40-point plateau this season as he established career-highs in both goals (20) and points (45) in 12 fewer games (45) from his rookie campaign a year ago.
A WEDGE-WALL BETWEEN THE PIPES
Rochester goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who won five straight prior to Sunday afternoon and 13 of his last 18 games, collected his 22nd win of the season last Saturday night as he made 23 saves. With his 22nd victory, Wedgewood established a new pro career-high in wins as he boasts a 22-10-2 record in 36 games for Rochester this season. The sixth-year netminder, who previously won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, has allowed one goal-against in five of his last 10 starts, stopping 258 of 278 shots he faced. Over that span, he’s posted a 5-3-1 record with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He comes into week tied for third among all AHL goaltenders in shutouts (3) while his career-high 22 wins are five off the league lead.
At 18-6-3-1, Rochester has the best road record in the AHL and have the second-most regulation wins away from home with 18. The Amerks also have the fewest regulation road losses in the AHL this season with six, having collected at least one point in 22 of their 28 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into the week, the Amerks have won 12 of their last 18 road contests and four straight.
Coming into this week, Rochester’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot for the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs is 25. Of the remaining 18 games, 10 are outside the Flower City while nine will be played as part of three different stretches of three games in three nights. Rochester will play 14 contests against North Division opponents, which includes three more against both Binghamton and Syracuse.