**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW FROM ABOVE
- A two-game sweep of the Laval Rocket this past weekend has the Amerks three points ahead of the Toronto Marlies for first place in the AHL’s North Division standings with three games remaining prior to the annual Christmas break. Rochester comes into the week having earned points in 15 of its last 16 contests dating back to Nov. 1, showing a 13-1-1-1 record over that span. The Amerks have posted different win streaks of three or more, including a stretch of five straight wins from Nov. 13 to Nov. 23.
- Saturday’s 5-0 victory over Laval was the fifth time this season the Amerks shutout their opponent. Rochester has scored at least four goals or more in each of their shutout victories this season.
- The Amerks became just the third team in the American Hockey League this season to reach the 40-point plateau as they have collected 40 out of a possible 52 points through their first 26 games. Additionally, the club has picked points in 20 of the last 23 contests overall, going 16-3-2-2.
- Rochester’s four regulation losses are tied for fewest in the league.
PURSUIT OF 20
- With 18 wins through their first 26 games, the Amerks can potentially reach the 20-win mark as early as this week. It’ll be the fewest amount of games to reach 20 wins since the 2009-10 Amerks eclipsed the mark in exactly 28 games.
MITTELSTADT JOINS AMERKS
- The Buffalo Sabres assigned forward Casey Mittelstadt to Rochester on Sunday. Mittelstadt, a former first-round pick of the Sabres (8th overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft, has nine points (4+5) in 31 games this season with Buffalo after skating in a career-high 77 contests last season as a rookie. In 114 career games with the Buffalo, Mittelstadt has notched 39 points on 17 goals and 22 assists.
- WATCH: Mittelstadt addresses media after his first practice with the Amerks.
DYNAMIC DUO IN THE CREASE
- Anchored by the goaltending duo of veteran Andrew Hammond and third-year pro Jonas Johansson, the Amerks own the top defense in the league, having allowed 60 goals through the first 26 games of the season, the fewest in the AHL.
- On Saturday afternoon, Hammond (10-2-2) stopped all 27 shots he faced in the crease and is now tied for first among all netminders after notching his fourth shutout of the season, a new career-high for the veteran netminder. In his last nine games, Hammond boasts a remarkable 7-1-1- record with four shutouts, a 1.33 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. With four shutouts through just 15 games this season, he’s on pace to match the franchise record for most shutouts in a season of eight set by Ryan Miller during the 2004-05 campaign. He’s also contributed offensively with two assists over his last four games, the most since the 2013-14 season with Binghamton.
- Coming off his sixth straight win in the first half of the two-game set against Laval, Johansson shows an AHL career-best 8-2-2 record, including his first shutout against Charlotte on Dec. 6. Coming into the week, he is tied for the second-best goal-against average in the league (2.09) and ranks fourth among all netminders with a .927 save percentage.
- After an injury-riddled rookie season limited him to just 28 games, Andrew Oglevie has certainly made up for lost time in his second season with the Amerks. In just a little over two months’ time, Oglevie has already surpassed his goal (5), assist (5) and point (10) total from last season and now currently paces club with 19 points while sharing the team lead with 10 goals. Oglevie, who’s one of just two skaters to appear in all 26 games this season, enters the week with 13 points (8+5) over his last 13 games, a stretch which included a career-long seven-game point streak that produced his first hat trick in a 3-2 win at Cleveland on Nov. 30.
- Rookie forward Brett Murray enters the week with one goal, seven assists and a pair of multi-point efforts over his last 11 games. He’s currently tied for 12th in scoring among all AHL rookies with 15 points (3+12) in 21 games.
- Centering Murray and Oglevie is veteran Kevin Porter, who’s tied for second the team with 18 points while his six goals are tied for third-most through 25 games this season.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
- Rochester owns three of the AHL’s top point-producing defensemen in Zach Redmond, Casey Nelson and Lawrence Pilut, all of whom have been mainstays on Rochester’s blueline this season.
- The start of the 2019-20 season is just a different chapter in the same story for the 31-year-old Redmond, who’s averaged nearly a point-per-game through his first 23 games of the season. The reigning Eddie Shore Award winner and two-time AHL All-Star is currently tied for seventh in scoring among all defensemen with 18 points and 10th with a team-high 14 assists.
- Since returning from Buffalo on Nov. 3, Pilut has nine points (1+8) over his last 13 games dating back to Nov. 15.
- Nelson joins Redmond as the only two Rochester blueliners with four goals, which rank tied for 15th in the AHL among defensemen.
- Rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson shares the lead for all AHL first-year players with a team-best plus-15 on-ice rating.
C.J. PICKING UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF
- It didn’t take long for forward C.J. Smith to make in impact his return to the lineup. In three games back since returning to the Amerks lineup this past Wednesday night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the third-year winger has produced a pair of multi-point games highlighted by a three-point effort (1+2) in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Laval. Last season, the former AHL All-Star MVP tallied a personal-best 28 goals, 30 assists and 58 points in 62 games. Through 15 contests this season, Smith has registered 11 points (5+6) while being one of three Amerks skaters with four multi-point games.
- Through their first 26 games of the season so far, Rochester has appeared in eight contests that have gone beyond regulation for the Amerks, the fourth-most in the AHL. The Amerks, who tied an AHL record during the 2017-18 season with 29 overtime games, are 3-2 in the bonus period this season and show a 1-2 record in the shootout.
- One of the biggest factors attributed to Rochester’s early season success is the fact that the Amerks have outshot their opponents in all but four games so far this season, including a season-high 50 shots in Springfield back on Oct. 27. The team is 14-4-2-2 when outshooting the opposition this season. The Amerks come into the week ranked eighth in the AHL in total shots (852) and are averaging 32.67 shots per game, the most in the Eastern Conference. Going into the Nov. 15 matchup against Binghamton, the Amerks were the only team in the league to have outshoot their opponent through the first 14 games of the 2019-20 campaign.