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Friday, November 11, 2005

Scouting the Rochester Americans

When the Wolves step on the ice of the War Memorial Stadium in downtown Rochester they face 50 years of history, six Calder banners hang from the rafters, and ten more banners show how close the team has come in other years. Rochester has averaged 7,314 attendance this year, just behind the Wolves, 8,027, Wilkes-Barre, Manchester and finally, Providence, number one with 8,241 average. With the possible retirement of the Moose as mascot this year, could the Amerks follow-up with inviting the Accordian Man to play the National Anthem?

It’s drums, it’s a mascot called The Moose, it’s a guy grifting for quarters playing “Take me out to the Hockey Game…” It’s Saturday night hockey in Ra-Cha-Cha.

The Amerks enter the fray with a record of 7-4, prior to a game with the Moose on Friday. A Friday night grudge match with the Manitoba Moose will influence the play on Saturday, as the Amerks will be going all out to revenge their disappointing end to the 2004-5 campaign at the hands of the Manitoba team.

The AHL reports they have a 28.9 percent home power play and an overall power play of 30.3 percent, the best in the league. They are also killing 90 percent of the power plays against opponents at home, 88.6 percent overall, the sixth best in the AHL. However, it should be noted that Derek Roy was a big guy on the ice for the Amerks and he is now playing in nearby Buffalo.

Coach Randy Cunneyworth has led the team to the post-season in each of his five seasons at the helm. Last year the team won 70 percent of its games and ended the season with the best record in the AHL, but was unable to transfer that to the post-season. Overall, Cunneyworth has a 198-129-54-16 career record, all with the Amerks. He is supported by assistant coach Doug Houda in his first year as a coach.

Michael Leighton, from the Norfolk Admirals and Blackhawk organizations is the main guy in pipes. The last season he played was with Norfolk where he posted a 1.83 GAA. So far this year he is averaging a save percent of 89.3 which earned him the 17th best record in AHL stats so far for GAA. (I know, mixing apples and oranges). Two of his wins have been shutouts, leading to seventh best record in shut-outs in the league.

He is backed by Jean-Marc Pelletier, reprising his role as second string goallie again. Despite this, his five wins put him near the top of the AHL stats for wins and is a hefty share of the overall wins at the Rochester team.

Top guys on the ice include veteran Chris Taylor who scored 79 points with the Amerks last year.

Clarke MacArthur joined the team for the playoffs last year from the Medicine Hat Tigers where he scored more than 74 points each year for the past three seasons. He is considered a leading rookie in the league, with nine points so far this season. And, Jason Pominville has scored 14 points this season, including ten goals. He is among the league’s leading scorers.

The Amerks have a bench of talent, much of it young. Michael Ryan joins from Northeastern University. He was a second round Stars pick in the 1999 draft. Kamil Kreps is out of the Brampton Battalion. He spent last year in the San Antonio Rampage and shows the new duo affiliation of the Amerks with the Sabres and the Panthers.

Chris Thorburn played with the North Bay Cenntennials, the Saginaw Spirit and most recently with the Plymouth Whalers. Last year with the Amerks he had 175 Pims and 29 points. Nathan Paetsch comes from the Moosejaw Warriors. Last year he had 23 points with 150 Pims.

Greg Jacina came up from the Mississaugua Ice Dogs and played with the Rampage last year. There he scored 31 points and 150 Pims. Mark Mancari is fresh from the Ottawa 67’s. He scored 68 points last year, 65 the year before.

Stefan Meyer is fresh from the Medicine Hat Tigers where he scored 77 points and 104 Pims last year and 75 points the prior year. He was a second round Panther pick in 2003. Daniel Paille was a first round Sabre draft pick in 2002. Last year he scored 29 points with the Amerks.

Rob Globke is a second round Panther pick out of Notre Dame. Last year, assigned to the Rampage, he scored just 12 goals. Matt Hendricks comes out of St. Cloud State. Jeremy Swanson is from the Barrie Colts.

Sean McMorrow is the enforcer for the Amerks. Last year he had 288 Pims, and that’s pretty consistant. He had 287 Pims in the 2003-4 campaign and 315 in the previous campaign for the Amerks. This year he has just five Pims, although he has only appeared in two games yet. As you can see, he is backed by a cloud of young guys willing to mix it up. Also on the roster in this vein is Doug Janik who has 32 Pims so far this year. Last year, with the Amerks, he had 196.


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