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Rochester Americans All-Time Top-15 Goaltenders

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WHERE DOES RYAN MILLER (Pictured Above) RANK IN KOZ’s RANKINGS?

By Warren Kozireski —

It is extremely difficult to measure hockey players from different generations against each other and it may be even tougher at the goaltender position.

Much has changed including the size of the equipment used and that save percentages weren’t reported until the last few decades. Add more games played by each team in the regular season and more teams meaning more roster spots (since only one goaltender can start for each team in any given game) and you begin to understand the difficulty.

Does winning a Calder Cup mean one goaltender is superior to another or were they lucky enough to have a better team around them?

And, though completely unfair for minor league franchises, some better goaltenders may not play long enough in an Amerks sweater because they were good enough to not stay long or there was a need at the NHL level.

That being said, here is a stab at a ranking of the Top-20 goaltenders in Rochester history based only on what they accomplished while playing for the Americans.

In their history over 129 goaltenders have appeared in at least one game for Rochester. We randomly set a 50-Rochester games played minimum leaving 34 goaltenders eligible, but now leaving out such familiar names such as Grant Fuhr and Tom Barrasso (five games played in Rochester each), Charlie Hodge (45 games total in 1956-57 and 1958-59), Olaf Kolzig (48 games in 1992-93) and Craig Anderson (34 games in 2006-07).

Let the debate begin:

  1. Gerry Cheevers (1961-65)

Second all-time in Amerks history with 101 career wins, only seven behind the leader despite 29 fewer games played. 12th best goals against average in team history at 2.98 with one Calder Cup championship in 1964-65 when he was a First team AHL All-Star. The Class of 1987 inductee into the Amerks Hall of Fame and the winner of the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award as the league’s best goaltender.

2. Bobby Perreault (1956-57, 62-63, 65-69)

Number one in team history in wins with 108 and was part of both the 1965-66 and 1967-68 Calder Cup championship teams. Winner of the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award as the league’s best goaltender in 1967-68 though curiously was only a Second Team AHL All-Star the same year. Tops among goalies with 205 games played and shutouts with 16. Inaugural Amerks Hall of Famer.

3. Ryan Miller (2002-06)

Best goals against average among team goaltenders with 50 or more games played and stands fourth all-time in wins with 92 over his three-plus seasons. Won the AHL Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as Outstanding Goaltender in 2004-05 as one only two Amerks to be so honored. Tied for second in team history with 15 shutouts and lowest goals against average of any goaltender who played more than one season.

4. Jacques Cloutier (1981-86, 1988-89)

Third all-time in wins with 96, he backstopped the Amerks to the 1982-83 Calder Cup under Mike Keenan, though he was better the next season with 26 wins in 51 starts. Over parts of seven seasons, is third all-time with 187 games in an Amerks sweater behind Perrault and Lynn Zimmerman and tied for second all-time in postseason wins with 21. Class of 2000 Amerks Hall of Fame inductee.

5. Darcy Wakaluk (1986-91)

Was voted team Most Valuable player in 1989-90 and shared the Harry “Hap” Holmes award with David Littman in 1990-91, he stands tied for fifth all-time in wins with 81. He stands second behind only Perreault in playoff games played and is tied with Cloutier in playoff wins including taking the Amerks to the Calder Cup finals in both 1990 and 1991. Class of 2012 Amerks Hall of Fame inductee.

6. Mika Noronen (1999-2003, 2005-06)

Second all-time in career goals against average (2.35) and sixth in wins (80), he twice was named team MVP including 2000 when the Amerks lost in the Calder Cup finals to Hartford. Named to the AHL All-Rookie team in 2000 and, with Tom Askey, won the Holmes Award as the league’s best goaltenders in 2001-01. Tied for second all-time (Miller) with 15 shutouts and second lowest goals against average of any goaltender playing more than one season.

7. Martin Biron (1997-2001)

Third all-time in goals against average (2,36) and 12th in wins with 59. Won the AHL Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as Outstanding Goaltender in 1998-99 when he won 36 of 52 starts and led the Amerks to the Calder Cu finals against Providence. Class of 2018 Amerks Hall of Fame inductee.

8. Lynn Zimmerman (1967-69, 1970-74)

Eighth all-time in victories with 78 winning more than 20 games in each of his final two seasons. One of just five in history to play 10,000 or more minutes in his Amerks career. Seventh all-tike in victories. Was the back-up to Perreault for the 1968 Cup.

9. Ed Chadwick (1959-61)

Won 71 games—eighth all-time—over his only two full seasons taking the Amerks to the Calder Cup finals against Cleveland in his first campaign as the home team won every game. He was named the Harry (Hap) Holmes Memorial Award winner in 1960.

10. Daren Puppa (1985-88, 1991-92)

Won 55 games of his 105 played with his best season the 1986-87 campaign when he won 33 times and took the Amerks to the Calder Cup championship against Sherbrooke.

11. David Littman (1989-92)

Played 130 games with his final two as the primary starter. Won 66 of those, which is tied for ninth all-time. First team AHL All-Star in 1990-91 when he took the Amerks to the Calder Cup finals against Springfield and Second team in 1991-92.

12. David Leggio (2011-13)

Won 66 games in two years (tied for ninth all-time), including 38 in his final year. Was named team Most Valuable Player both seasons. Stands sixth all-time with a 2.59 goals against average.

13. Gerry McNeil (1957-59)

Not a lot of postseason success, but won 61 games in 134 appearances over his two seasons as the primary starter—good for 11th in team history—as his 11-year career was nearing its end.

14. Linus Ullmark (2015-18)

Tenth all-time in goals against (2.84), the two-time team MVP registered 57 wins over his 127 appearances (14th in team history). Would have ranked higher if the team would have had more postseason success.

15. Steve Shields (1994-98)

Only won 37 games over his career in Rochester, but came into his own the second half of the 1995-96 season that was floundering in January to their fifth and last Calder Cup championship.

(Rochester Americans Photo)

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