**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW NEAR THE TOP
Following a pair of wins over the Laval Rocket and Binghamton Devils to close out the weekend, the Amerks sit just one point behind Syracuse for the AHL’s North Division lead going into this weekend’s home-and-home set with the Crunch. Rochester sits seven points ahead of third-place Toronto and has a 14-point lead on Belleville, which currently has a one-point lead on Cleveland for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division coming into the month of April. The Amerks have earned 46 out of a possible 66 points in their last 33 games heading into the final two weeks of the 2018-19 regular season. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers (46) and Crunch (43) have more wins than the Amerks (43), who are fourth overall in the AHL with a .657 points percentage.
RACE TO CLAIM THE NORTH
Of the remaining six games for the Amerks, who are second in the North Division, four are outside the Flower City while three will be played over the final weekend of the regular season with three games in three nights. Rochester will play five contests against North Division opponents, including three more against Syracuse.
AMERKS ARE PLAYOFF BOUND
The Amerks have officially punched their ticket into the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs, marking the 46th time in the 63-year history of the franchise that the Amerks have advanced to the postseason. It’s also the sixth time in 10 years Rochester has qualified for the playoffs, clinching on the road by way of a 6-4 win over the Binghamton Devils on March 30.
Trailing 3-1 in the minute of the first period of Saturday’s game in Binghamton, the Amerks scored five of the game’s next six goals, including four in the third period, to complete the 6-4 win. The victory was the Amerks eighth win when trailing after 40 minutes of play, which is most in the AHL this season. Additionally, it was the fourth come-from-behind win when facing a multi-goal deficit this season for the Amerks, who rallied from being down 3-0 for a 4-3 overtime win in Utica on Feb. 22 and used a three-goal third-period in Hartford on Nov. 18 to earn a 4-3 road win over the Wolf Pack. Rochester also scored three times in the final 13:53 of regulation to overcome a three-goal deficit in a 5-4 overtime win in Toronto on Mar. 24.
SHARING THE WEALTH
After failing to produce a 20-goal scorer last season for just the second time in franchise history, the Amerks could potentially have six or more by the season’s end. Defenseman Zach Redmond and forwards Victor Olofsson, C.J. Smith, Taylor Leier and Danny O’Regan all have reached the mark while Wayne Simpson remains on the brinkhaving scored a career-high 19 goals this season. The last time Rochester had six different 20-goal scorers in the same season was during the 1996-97 campaign when the team had seven. Rochester is just one of two teams in the AHL (Syracuse) this season with five different 20-goal scorers. Rochester’s well-balanced offense has also produced two 50-point getters so far in 2018-19 in Olofsson (60) and Smith (56) with two more on the verge as Redmond has a career-high 49 points and O’Regan has 46 coming into the first weekend of April.
OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY
Currently on recall with the parent Buffalo Sabres, Victor Olofsson continues to lead the Amerks in all offensive categories, including goals (27), assists (33) and points (60) through 64 games this season. Olofsson, who earned CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for October, is currently tied for eighth in the AHL in points while also sharing the 12th spot among the league’s top goal-scorers. Additionally, he ranks among the league leaders with 15 power-play assists while his nine game-winning goals, three of which have come in his last 12 games, are also tied with teammate Zach Redmond for most in the AHL.
CAREER-YEAR FOR C.J.
C.J. Smith has been piling up the points on an absolute torrid pace. With his 10th multi-point game of the slate, the second-year pro has amassed a whopping 39 points (21+18) over his last 36 games dating back to Dec. 5, having been held scoreless just nine times over that span. He also posted a season-long nine-game point streak in that time. Smith is eyeing the 60-point plateau for the first time in his career and has already established career-highs in goals (27), assists (29) and points (56). He also holds the team lead with a plus-28 on-ice rating, which is tied for seventh-best in the league, in 57 games while playing at nearly a point-per-game pace for the better part of the last three months for Rochester.
With 27 goals each on the season, forwards Victor Olofsson and C.J. Smith are well on their way to becoming the first set of Amerks to score 30 in the same season since Thomas Vanek (42) and Jason Pominville (30) both reached the mark during the 2004-05 campaign when Rochester finished the year with an AHL-best 51-19-6-4 record, winning the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as regular-season champions. The Amerks would set several single-season franchise records for the most points (112) and the longest home winning streak which saw Rochester win 17 consecutive home games between Dec. 17 and Mar. 4 while Vanek would go on to tie the single-season franchise marks for most goals by a rookie (42) and most power-play goals (25).
With 19 points (5+14) over his last 16 games, which includes six multi-point efforts during that span, Redmond has scored a career-high 21 goals through 53 games, including 10 on the power-play, good enough for 12th in the league in that category. Redmond, who is currently averaging just under a point-per-game and had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, ranks second among all AHL defensemen with 49 points while his 21 goals and 186 shots are the most by an AHL blueliner this season. In addition to nearing the first 50-point season of his career, his nine game-winning goals are tied with Olofsson for tops in the AHL.
A WEDGE-WALL BETWEEN THE PIPES
Scott Wedgewood,who has won nine of his last 14 games, boasts a career-best 27-12-2 record in 45 appearances this season. In addition to his 27 wins, which are five off the league lead coming into the week, the sixth-netminder has posted a career-best five shutouts, which are second-most in the AHL. Wedgewood, who previously won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, also ranks sixth among all goaltenders in saves (1,112) while his 2.60 goals-against average and .909 save percentage and are 18th and 19th in the AHL, respectively. He’s also on pace to become the first Amerks netminder to reach 30 wins in a season since former two-time MVP David Leggio posted 38 victories during the 2012-13 campaign.
At 22-8-3-1, Rochester has the third-best road record in the AHL and have the second-most regulation wins away from home with 22. The Amerks also have the fewest regulation road losses in the AHL this season with eight, having collected at least one point in 26 of their 34 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into the week, the Amerks have won three straight and eight of the last 10.