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O’Brien Wins Dr. Rusin Memorial Award

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ—

Dan O’Brien is the 2019 Recipient of the Dr. James Rusin Memorial Award.

The Rusin Award is given in the memory of Dr. James Rusin, honoring dedication and commitment to Girls Varsity Ice Hockey in Western New York.

O’Brien is certainly worthy of the award, considering what he did to help establish a girl’s varsity ice hockey team in Niagara County.

“I was shocked when I was told I had won the award,” stated O’Brien, who is a Finance Manager for First Student, the bus company.  “I’m honored to have won the award.

“I had to think about all of the people that made this happen. It wasn’t just me. It was a team of people that helped get this girls hockey team in Niagara County.”

A hockey seed was planted 15 months ago. It was planted on Monday, Feb. 12.

That’s when a group of 12 parents and students representing a proposed Starpoint High School girls ice hockey team, made their presentation to the Starpoint Board of Education meeting held at the Starpoint Middle School.

Headed by O’Brien, a presentation was made during the open session of the meeting proposing to begin a girl’s varsity high school hockey team for the 2018-19 season.

“The girls that are interested in playing would become part of a team that would play in the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation, which currently has seven teams,” said O’Brien that night. “Starpoint would become the eighth team.”

Following several months of phone calls and meetings, Starpoint, along with Niagara-Wheatfield High School, merged to form what is now known as the Niagara County Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Team.

It is the first Niagara County-based team to play in the WNYGVIHF. The other seven teams that make up the Section VI Girls Fed are located in Erie County.

O’Brien admits there were several anxious moments leading up to that first game for the Niagara County team.

“Even after we had gotten school boards on board and athletic directors on board, there was some questions regarding the financing of the teams,” said O’Brien who is married to Diane and they have two children, Nick and Natalie. “The budgets were looked at and budgets were tweaked a bit.

“A lot of phone calls were made and talk was going on between many of the parents. In the end we had a team on the ice.”

The Niagara County team went through a lot of adversity including having a winless season, not knowing until the day before the first practice began if they would have a team or not, among other things.

“Our coaching staff did a great job of organizing things and keeping the girls focused all season long,” added O’Brien. “We had a great group of parents and fans who followed us all season long.”

What is in the future for the Niagara County team?

“My understanding is that two more schools are going to join the Niagara County team,” concluded O’Brien. “Of course we will be there supporting the team.

“Whatever is needed I’ll be glad to help.”

Amerks Redmond Named AHL’s Top Defenseman

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REDMOND NAMED WINNER OF EDDIE SHORE AWARD AS AHL’S OUTSTANDING DEFENSEMAN

Veteran blueliner joins Steve Kraftcheck, Al Arbour as the only Amerks ever to receive the award


(Rochester, NY) – The American Hockey League announced today that Zach Redmond of the Rochester Americans is the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2018-19 season.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 31 cities.

Redmond finished the 2018-19 regular season with career-best totals of 21 goals (tops among all AHL defensemen) and 50 points, along with a plus-13 rating in just 58 games for the Americans, who finished with the fourth-best record in the AHL. He tied for the overall league lead with nine game-winning tallies and ranked first among blueliners with 10 power-play goals (tied) and 200 shots on goal. Redmond, who broke a 46-year-old franchise record for goals by a defenseman in a single season, was also voted a First Team AHL All-Star this season following a Second Team selection in 2017-18. He joins AHL Hall of FamerSteve Kraftcheck (1959) and Hockey Hall of Famer Al Arbour (1965) as the only Amerks ever to receive the Eddie Shore Award.

An eighth-year pro from Traverse City, Mich., Redmond has totaled 65 goals and 132 assists for 197 points in 314 career AHL games, as well as nine goals and 29 assists in 133 NHL contests with Buffalo, Montreal, Colorado and Winnipeg. Redmond, who has successfully resumed his career following a potentially life-threatening laceration to his femoral artery in 2013, was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008 and was acquired by Buffalo in a trade with Montreal on Oct. 4, 2017.

This award was first presented by the AHL in 1958-59 in honor of the late Eddie Shore, a member of both the Hockey Hall of Fame and the American Hockey League Hall of Fame who is widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of seven Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and five as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous recipients of the Eddie Shore Award include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Bob McCord (1961, ’67), Al Arbour (1965), Jim Morrison (1966), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Dave Farrish (1982), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Niklas Kronwall (2005), Johnny Boychuk (2009), Mark Barberio (2012), Justin Schultz (2013), T.J. Brennan (2014, ’16), Chris Wideman (2015), Matt Taormina (2017) and Sami Niku (2018).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway Wednesday.

17 Members of Hobart College Hockey Team Named To NEHC All-Academic Team

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Seventeen members of the Hobart College hockey team were named to the 2018-19 New England Hockey Conference All-Academic Team.

To be eligible for all-academic recognition, a student must carry a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and have completed one full year at his institution.

The following Statesmen earned a spot on the all-academic team:

Senior Brandon Bistodeau, economics and history double major
Junior Alexander Connal, architectural studies major
Junior Julien Denicourt, economics major
Junior Will Harrison, economics major
Sophomore Andrew Longo, economics and history double major
Sophomore Ryan Lynch, economics major
Junior Lawson MacDougall, economics major
Senior Jack Macnee, economics major
Senior Matt Pizzo, economics and environmental studies double major
Sophomore Alec Robitaille, biochemistry and mathematics double major
Sophomore Travis Schneider, economics and psychology double major
Sophomore TJ Schultz, economics major
Senior Cam Shaheen, economics major
Senior Tanner Shaw, political science major
Junior Zach Sternbach, economics major
Sophomore Mitchell Spring, economics major
Senior Jonas Toupal, geoscience and planetary science double major

Bistodeau, Macnee, Pizzo, Shaheen, Shaw, and Toupal earned conference all-academic recognition for the third year in a row, Connal, Denicourt, MacDougall, and Sternbach garned NEHC All-Academic honors for the second straight year.

The Statesmen finished the year with a 21-8-2 overall record, matching the program record for wins in a season. Hobart earned a bid to the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year, reaching the national semifinals for the third time in program history. The Statesmen were edged by the eventual national champion, Wisconsin-Stevens Point 5-3.

Amerks Weekly Report

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PLAYOFFS BEGIN THIS WEEKEND

The Rochester Americans will face the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies in the first-round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Amerks begin the postseason on home ice for Games 1, presented by Nissan, and 2 of the best-of-five opening round series on Friday, April 19 and Sunday, April 21 at The Blue Cross Arena. Rochester will also host a decisive Game 5, if necessary, on Sunday, April 28.

The Amerks clinched second place in the American Hockey League’s North Division with a 4-3 loss to the Syracuse Crunch earlier tonight. The opening round series will mark the third meeting in the postseason between the two teams since 2012.

Rochester secured its second straight playoff berth with a 6-4 win over the Binghamton Devils on March 30 and clinched home ice for the first-round following its 2-1 victory at Cleveland on April 8.

Below is the full first-round schedule for the best-of-five North Division Semifinals between the second-place Amerks and third-place Marlies. The first 3,000 fans in attendance for Game 1 will receive a custom Amerks hard hat, courtesy of Nissan.

Game 1 | Friday, April 19 – Toronto at Rochester | 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena

Game 2 | Sunday, April 21 – Toronto at Rochester | 3:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena

Game 3 | Wednesday, April 24 – Rochester at Toronto | 7:00 p.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum

*Game 4 | Friday, April 26 – Rochester at Toronto | 7:00 p.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum

*Game 5 | Sunday, April 28 – Toronto at Rochester | 5:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena

*if necessary

Minnesota-Duluth Wins Frozen Four Tourney

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MINNESOTA-DULUTH NINTH REPEAT CHAMP IN HISTORY

By Warren Kozireski–

BUFFALO, NY — Senior forward Parker Makay netted a first period power play goal and set up sophomore defenseman Mickey Anderson for a second period tally to lead the University of Minnesota-Duluth to a 3-0 victory over the University of Massachusetts to win the 2019 Frozen Four in Buffalo.

The Bulldogs become the first repeat champion since the University of Denver did it in 2004-05 and the ninth overall (Michigan twice, Denver four times, Boston University and the University of Minnesota, once each).

“Parker was coming up the boards and made a great play through the middle and I just tried to find a hole, Parker connected and I just had to put it upstairs,” Anderson said about his goal.

Freshman Jackson Cates added a late third period insurance tally as Anderson registered his third point of the contest with an assist.

The Bulldogs allowed only one goal to the first three opponents in the NCAA playoff opponents this season. In the title game, they held positional advantage outshooting the Minutemen 25-12 through the first 40 minutes and held UMass with a shot on goal in two consecutive power play opportunities.

It marked the sixth shutout in the 71 years of the national title game and the first since 2013 when Yale blanked Quinnipiac.

“So fortunate to make the regionals all four years let alone three Frozen Fours and now winning two national championships,” Bulldogs senior captain and tournament Most Outstanding Player Mackay reflected. “So happy to do it with some incredible friends…it’s no shock that we’ve been here three years in a row and I’m looking forward to watching this group in the future.”

In addition to Mackay, Bulldogs goaltender Hunter Shepard, forwards Justin Richards and Billy Exell, Anderson and UMass freshman defenseman Marc Del Gaizo were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Setauket’s Trivigno On Frozen Stage

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By Warren Kozireski–

“Another blue-collar kid that you want on your team,” University of Massachusetts head coach and Spencer Penrose Award as National Coach of the Year winner Greg Carvel said about Setauket native and freshman forward Bobby Trivigno. “He’s 5’8″. I watch him weigh in. It’s always see if he got up to 150 (lb.) or not. That’s after every other kid is 200, 205. He jumps up there. I love him. He’s tough as nails, scores big goals, plays every situation.

“As coaches, there’s certain kids you want on your team. Bobby is one of those kids. Plays the game on edge. He knocks down as many guys of the opponents of anybody on our team every night. We’ll always start video on Monday showing good, physical hits. He’ll knock down three guys a game. He’s 5’8″, 148 pounds, scores goals, goes to the front of the net, does it all. We’re very fortunate to have him. Unbelievable player.”

The top scoring freshman on the Minutemen with 13 goals and 28 points scored a power play goal from his office in front of the net two minutes after Denver took a 1-0 lead in the Frozen Four semi-final; a game UMass won in overtime 4-3.

“When I’m in front of the net, it’s just take away the goalies’ eyes, try to bang in any rebounds and that particular play (senior forward Jacob Pritchard) “Pritch” shot the puck and I just tipped it into the goal and got lucky,” Trivigno said in the postgame locker room.

“When I’m in tight to the net I can use my speed, spin off players and it plays to my pros (strengths).”

Trivigno was fourth on the team in scoring and won an Anderson Cup as regular season champs last season with Waterloo in the USHL. Prior to that he spent three years starting at age 16 with the Shattuck St. Mary’s program winning a national title in 2016 with the Shattuck St. Mary’s U-16 team.

“My sister (Dana) went there before me; she was heavily recruited by them and I saw what success it brought her so I wanted to go there. (Dana was a captain as a senior at Boston College),” Trivigno said.

“While I was there it was a great experience, great culture, great coaches, teammates and you’re surrounded by players who want to do the exact same thing as you and when I got the opportunity, I wasn’t going to turn it down.”

Prior to that he played most of his youth career with the Long Island Royals program and one year prior to prep school with the P.E.L. Jr. Islanders.

Now UMass will try to deny Minnesota-Duluth a repeat championship.

“We’re super-excited, but we’re looking at it as just another game. We’ll rest, re-gen (regenerate) and be ready to play Saturday night.”

As this is written, the NCAA announced that Trivigno has been suspended for one game under the NCAA’s supplemental discipline process as a result of an incident that occurred during the third period of the Men’s Frozen Four semifinal game between Massachusetts and Denver. 

The action was taken by the committee after a review of the incident, which occurred with 3:10 remaining in the third period, in which Trivigno made contact with the head of a Denver player.

RIT’s Brown Named Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-American

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ROCHESTER, NY – 
Senior forward Erik Brown (Keene, Ontario/Kemptville 73’s) of the RIT men’s hockey team was as a 2018-19 Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-American on Friday, April 12. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.

Brown became RIT’s second Senior CLASS Award All-American, joining Alexander Kuqali (Pittsburgh, PA/Sioux City Musketeers), who was named in 2016.
 
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I men’s hockey coaches, national hockey media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athletes in Division I men’s hockey. Kyle Haak of Air Force Academy was named the 2018-19 Senior CLASS Award winner.

One of RIT’s co-captains, Brown, a 2018 All-Atlantic Hockey first team selection and 2019 third team pick, led RIT with 18 goals this season and added 11 assists for 29 points. On. Jan. 11, Brown became the 11th player in RIT’s Division I history to reach 100 points in his career in a win over American International. Three days later, Brown earned his second AHA Offensive Player of the Week honor and was named NCAA Ice Hockey’s First Star of the Week.
 
Brown, who set a Division I team single-season mark with 29 goals last year, finished his four-year career with 70 goals, which is RIT’s Division I school record. He is seventh in RIT’s Division I era with 115 career points on 70 goals and 45 assists in 148 games. Brown finished second all-time in the Division I era with 26 power-play goals and 11 game-winning markers. In 2018, Brown, won RIT’s Lou Spiotti Coaches Award and was recipient of the Greg Moss Hard Hat Award.

In the classroom, Brown, a biomedical sciences major, is also a three-time Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team selection (2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18). Brown has delivered Teddy Bears to children at the Rochester Regional Health Pediatric Department after the annual Teddy Bear Toss game in both 2016 and 2017. In addition, he has volunteered with Muddy’s Buddies in Rochester, which is a nonprofit, charitable organization that seeks to improve the quality of life of children and their families whose lives have been touched by cancer and other chronic illnesses.

RIT finished with 17 wins and advanced to the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals in 2018-19.

2018-19 Senior CLASS Award Recipients
First Team
Kyle Haak, Air Force (Senior CLASS Award Winner)
Chase Berger, Penn State
Tanner Jago, Bentley
Sasha Larocque, Ohio State
Max Veronneau, Princeton

Second Team
Erik Brown (Keene, Ontario/Kemptville 73’s), RIT

Mason Bergh, Colorado College
Chase Priskie, Quinnipiac
Jimmy Schuldt, St. Cloud State
Josh Teves, Princeton

Scibetta Is Tabbed With USCHO Honor

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William Smith College junior forward Gina Scibetta continues to add awards following an outstanding season for the Herons. Most recently, she earned a spot on the All-USCHO third team.

The AHCA second team All-American played in all 28 games for the Herons this season. She led the team with 22 goals and 40 points. Scibetta was third on the team with 18 assists. She shattered William Smith’s single-season goals and points records on her way to earning second team All-UCHC honors. Scibetta finished the season eighth in the nation in points per game (1.43) and ninth in goals per game (0.79). Her 40 points were second in the UCHC.

Scibetta logged a career-high four points twice this season. She recorded her first career hat trick and added an assist against King’s on Jan. 13, and had two goals and two assists in William Smith’s season-opening win over Salve Regina. Scibetta was named to the D3hockey.com National Team of the Week following a seven point (3g, 4a) weekend against the Seahawks to open the season. She had four points (2g, 2a) during the UCHC tournament, earning a spot on the UCHC All-Tournament team.

Scibetta has played in all 79 games of her collegiate career. She has 36 goals, 38 assists and 74 points. Scibetta is second on William Smith’s all-time list in goals, third in points, and fourth in assists.

William Smith finished the season with an 18-8-2 overall record. The Herons won their first two playoff games in program history before falling to Elmira in the UCHC Championship game.

Former RIT Goalie DeMichiel Now Asst. Coach With U-Mass

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RIT GRAD DEMICHIEL ON NATIONAL STAGE WITH UMASS

By Warren Kozireski–

Former R.I.T. goaltender Jared DeMichiel took the Tigers to the Frozen Four playing all but about 200 minutes in 38 games during the magical 2010 run. Now he is back as an assistant coach with the University of Massachusetts.

After his collegiate playing career ended, the Connecticut native played one year professionally splitting the 2010-11 campaign between South Carolina and Elmira in the USHL and Hershey in the AHL.

He then spent two years as an assistant coach at Nazareth College under George Roll before jumping to the Division I ranks at St. Lawrence under head coach Greg Carvel. He followed Carvel to Amherst, Massachusetts when he was offered the job three years ago.

Now he and associate head coach Ben Barr, who played at RPI and had coaching stints with the Engineers and Union College, are credited with assembling this roster of players who won the first Hockey East regular season championship and reached their first Frozen Four in program history and will play for the national championship Saturday night in Buffalo.

“Jared and Ben do an unbelievable job getting these kids who haven’t been USA Hockey kids their whole life, but they’re high-character kids that play the game hard, good skill level,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said in a Friday press conference.

“I’m very proud. It’s a very proud week for me and my staff. Very proud of what we’ve been able to do.”

New York-Based Hockey Players Honored

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Fox, Sturm and Farabee Honored (Farabee Pictured)

Jericho native and Harvard junior defenseman Adam Fox and Clarkson University junior forward Nico Sturm were both named to the American Hockey Coaches Association (ACHA) East First Team All-Americans while Syracuse (Cicero) native Joel Farabee was selected as the Tim Taylor National Rookie of the Year in ceremonies Friday afternoon.

Fox, a Calgary draft pick who was traded to Carolina last summer and a Hobey Baker Award Hat-Trick finalist, led the Crimson in scoring with 39 assists and 48 points. He has 116 points in 97 collegiate games and is only five assists from 100 in his career. He came through the U.S. National Development Program.

The undrafted and Germany born Sturm had scouts salivating all season as he led the Golden Knights with 45 points in 39 contests. He cracked the 100-career point mark late in the season before giving up his final year of eligibility to sign with the Minnesota Wild where he played in two late-season games.

Farabee, a first-round draft pick for the Philadelphia Flyers (14th overall) was the top freshman scorer in Hockey East with Boston University with 36 points in 37 games including 17 goals.

Rochester, NY Native Has Nice Run With Providence

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BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 26: The Boston University Terriers host the Providence College Friars during NCAA men's hockey at Agganis Arena on October 26, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon)

ROCHESTER’S DUGAN ENDS FRESHMAN YEAR RUN WITH PROVIDENCE

By Warren Kozireski–

Providence College received an at-large bid to the NCAA hockey tournament after their 21-win season and defeated Minnesota State and Cornell to win the East Regional to advance to the fifth Frozen Four in program history.

A huge part of that success has been McQuaid grad and native Jack Dugan’s 39-point campaign; the second most on the team.

That road ended Thursday night with a 4-1 loss to defending champ Minnesota-Duluth, which included two-empty-net goals.

“It’s really hard obviously; I can’t imagine what the seniors feel like,” Dugan said in the post-game locker room. “We obviously thought we could win it and I think we played a helluva game tonight and could have won, but it just came down to a bounce and they got it.

“I think we were the better team for most of the game.

“These guys brought me and all the freshmen in and were welcoming with open arms and accepted us. A lot of teams aren’t like that…so for me it’s been outstanding. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be playing with and I think next year we’ll have a really good team as well, but this definitely stings.”

Sabres Prospect Jacob Bryson

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SABRES PROSPECT BRYSON CAPTAINS PROVIDENCE TO FROZEN FOUR

By Warren Kozireski–

Buffalo Sabres 2017 fourth round draft pick Jacob Bryson and his Providence Friars made a run to the Frozen Four on what he hopes to be his future home ice in Buffalo before falling to Minnesota-Duluth in the national semi-finals 4-1.

The Friars received an at-large bid to the NCAA hockey tournament after their 21-win season and defeated Minnesota State and Cornell to win the East Regional to advance to the fifth Frozen Four in program history.

“It just shows how special Providence as a program is to make it the three years…to the tournament every year,” Bryson said in the post-game press conference. “This was our first experience in the Frozen Four, it was unbelievable.  That shows you how good our program is.

“That’s a big reason why…I chose this place, because we wanted to win. I’m happy with our group this year. We had such a dynamic group of individuals. Even though we’re young, shows you how far we got under coach (and Cortland grad Gary) Leaman’s wing, he did a great job of coaching us and being hard on us every day in practice to get us to this point.”

The 5’9”, 179 lb. left shot and captain for Providence scored 27 points with 23 of those assists, including one assist in each of his last three postseason contests.

As for whether he is contemplating ending his collegiate career a year early and signing a pro contract, Bryson said, “I’m really not focused on that right now. I’m so excited how my team played tonight, how we’ve been over the season. We came so far, did such a great job. That’s really what I’m focused on right now.”

Amerks Redmond Named To AHL First All-Star Team

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AMERKS DEFENSEMAN ZACH REDMOND NAMED TO 2018-19 AHL FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM

Veteran blueliner earns AHL year-end honors for second straight season


(Rochester, NY) – The American Hockey League announced that Rochester Americans defensemanZach Redmond has been named to the 2018-19 AHL First All-Star Team.

The 30-year-old Redmond earns year-end honors for the second straight season after being named to the AHL Second All-Star Team in 2017-18, becoming the first Amerks defenseman to be selected in back-to-back years since Terry Hollinger in 1995-96 and 1996-97.

Redmond surpassed his 47-point output from last season in 10 fewer games during the 2018-19 campaign, recording career-highs in goals (21) and points (50) while adding 29 assists and a plus-14 on-ice rating in 56 games for Rochester.

The eighth-year pro currently leads all AHL defensemen in goals (21) and power-play goals (10) and ranks third in points heading into the final weekend of the regular season. He’s also tied for the league lead with nine game-winning goals while his 196 shots are the most by an AHL blueliner this season.

Earlier this season, Redmond broke the 46-year-old franchise record for goals by a defenseman in a single season, surpassing Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti, who set the original mark with 18 goals during the 1972-73 campaign. Since then, Redmond continued his record-setting season by becoming the first defenseman in team history – and first of six different Amerks skaters this season – to reach the 20-goal mark. 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, reached the 50-point mark for the first time in his pro career with an assist Saturday in Syracuse.

Originally a seventh-round selection (184th overall) of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Redmond has amassed 197 points (65+132) in 312 career AHL games with Rochester, St. John’s, San Antonio and Chicago. He’s also totaled 38 points (9+29) in 133 NHL appearances, including three last season with the Buffalo Sabres.

Crunch Weekly Report

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SYRACUSE CRUNCH WEEKLY RELEASE
Presented by Penske Truck Rental

LAST WEEK

Wed., April 3 – Crunch at Belleville – W, 1-0
Fri., April 5 – Crunch at Rochester – W, 6-1
Sat., April 6 – Crunch vs. Rochester – L, 5-2

THIS WEEK

Fri., April 12 – Crunch vs. Laval – 7 p.m.
Sat., April 13 – Crunch vs. Rochester – 7 p.m.
Sun., April 14 – Crunch at Utica – 5 p.m.

NORTH DIVISION RACE COMES DOWN TO FINAL WEEKEND

The Crunch won two of their three games in Week 27 to position themselves with a one point lead in the North Division entering the final week of the regular season.

Syracuse opened the week with a 1-0 shutout win over the Belleville Senators, behind a 34-save performance by Atte Tolvanen-his first career shutout. The Crunch and Rochester Americans then played a home-and-home series Friday and Saturday night, with the road team claiming a pair of wins. The Crunch trounced the Amerks, 6-1, Friday night, but the Amerks responded with a 5-2 win in Syracuse the next day.

The race for the North Division title comes down to the final weekend of the season as Syracuse ends with a three-in-three weekend, including two home games.

TOP PERFORMERS

Alex Barré-Boulet paced the Crunch with four points in three games last week. He posted a multi-point performance (2a) Friday in Rochester then followed up with a goal and assist Saturday against the Amerks. That snapped a 15-game drought without a multi-point performance and gives his 16 this season; only Carter Verhaeghe (22) has more games with at least two points.

Barré-Boulet leads AHL rookies and ranks seventh overall in the league with 64 points (33g, 31a). He’s attempting to become the first Crunch rookie to win the Garrett Award for most outstanding AHL rookie.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

There’s a lot on the line as the Crunch prepare for their final weekend of the regular season. First and foremost is the Crunch’s pursuit of their second division championship in the last three seasons. Entering the week, the Crunch hold a one point lead over the Rochester Americans for the division title; the Crunch’s magic number stands at six.


Syracuse is also eyeing franchise records in a few departments with three games left. If the Crunch win their final three games, they would established a new franchise wins record. They currently have 45 wins this season; their team record is 47, which was done in an 80-game season (2005-06). Their record for a 76-game season is 46 wins, which they did last year.

The Crunch need three points in the last three games to tie their franchise record for points percentage (.658) and it would also be their second consecutive 100-point season. They have three 100-point seasons in franchise history and their team record is 102 points.


Carter Verhaeghe is tied with Toronto’s Jeremy Bracco at 77 points for the AHL scoring lead. No Crunch player has ever won the John B. Sollenberger trophy as the league’s leading scorer and the Crunch’s franchise record is 79 points. If Verhaeghe wins the scoring title, it would be the first time since the AHL officially started tracking NHL-AHL affiliations (1971) that an affiliation produced the scoring champion in both leagues during the same season; Nikita Kucherov won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer this season. Jeannot Gilbert (Hershey) and Phil Esposito (Boston) did it in 1968-69 when those team’s had a “working relationship.”

Meanwhile Alex Barré-Boulet is tied with the Marlies Chris Mueller for the league lead with 33 goals. The last Crunch player to lead the league in goals was Tyler Johnson in 2012-13.

UPCOMING: LAVAL, ROCHESTER, UTICA

The Crunch’s final weekend presents just their second three-in-three of the season.

First up is a home match with the Laval Rocket-the sixth and final meeting of the season between the clubs. Syracuse holds a 4-1-0-0 record against the Rocket, including two wins on home ice. The Rocket-eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight season-have just three wins in the last 10 games as they arrive in Syracuse in the middle of their final three-game road trip of the season.

Saturday’s home finale features a match that could determine the winner of the North Division. The Crunch host the Amerks in the 12th and final regular season match between the teams. The clubs split a home-and-home series-their third split this season-and enter the week separated by one point in the division. Rochester has won six games and the Crunch have won five this season.

The Crunch end the season in Utica against the Comets for the Galaxy Cup series finale. The Crunch have claimed the cup for a third straight season and they’ve defeated the Comets in five consecutive meetings since Feb. 1.

WEEK 27 RESULTS

Wednesday, April 3 | Game 71 at Belleville | W, 1-0
Syracuse 0 1 0 – 1 Shots: 6-11-15-32 PP: 0/2
Belleville 0 0 0 – 0 Shots: 13-11-10-34 PP: 0/3
2nd Period-Andreoff 25 (Volkov, Conacher), 8:32. . . . Tolvanen 2-1-0 (34 shots-34 saves). A-3,155

Friday, April 5 | Game 72 at Rochester | W, 6-1
Syracuse 2 1 3 – 6 Shots: 12-6-7-25 PP: 0/3
Rochester 0 1 0 – 1 Shots: 7-10-13-30 PP: 0/6
1st Period-Volkov 21 (Andreoff, Labrie), 13:59. Dumont 14 (Barré-Boulet), 19:24. 2nd Period-Foote 10 (Volkov, Conacher), 9:27. 3rd Period-Verhaeghe 31 (Unassisted), 8:27. Brassart 3 (Somppi, Yan), 13:28. Katchouk 11 (Dumont, Barré-Boulet), 15:04. . . . Tolvanen 3-1-0 (30 shots-29 saves). A-7,564

Saturday, April 6 | Game 73 vs. Rochester | L, 5-2
Rochester 2 3 0 – 5 Shots: 15-15-5-35 PP: 1/5
Syracuse 0 1 1 – 2 Shots: 3-8-6-17 PP: 0/3
2nd Period-Barré-Boulet 33 (Andreoff, Verhaeghe), 19:30. 3rd Period-Yan 11 (Barré-Boulet, Foote), 5:54. . . . Tolvanen 3-2-0 (35 shots-30 saves). A-6,029

Category Average/Total AHL Rank (Prev)
Power Play 20.6% (62-for-301) 5th (6th)
Penalty Kill 85.0% (301-for-354) 4th (4th)
Goals For 3.45 GFA (252) 4th (4th)
Goals Against 2.45 GAA (179) 1st (1st)
Shots For 28.04 SF/G (2047) 25th (25th)
Shots Against 28.77 SA/G (2100) 13th (11th)
Penalty Minutes 14.04 PIM/G (1025) 7th (7th)
Category Leader
Points 77 Verhaeghe
Goals 33 Barré-Boulet
Assists 46 Verhaeghe
PIM 150 Andreoff
Plus/Minus +34 Masin
Wins 25 Pasquale
GAA 2.37 Pasquale
Save % 0.916 Pasquale