The Amerks Are Burning Down The House

Last night the Rochester Americans faced the Utica Comets in a lightly attended Friday night home game at the Blue Cross Arena. A kitchen fire left Utica’s goalie Richard Bachman in a haze during the 2nd period, but it was the Amerks who smoked Bachman scoring 2 goals on just 3 shots in the 3rd period. Lots of blocked shots and strong team camaraderie propelled the Amerks to a decisive 4-0 win, giving Wedgewood his first shutout of the season.

Redmond opened up scoring with a power play goal. Pilut cycled and passed to Olofsson, who hit Redmond with a perfect pass. Redmond fired a blazing one-timer from the point that beat Bachman as he slid across the crease. Porter scored the only goal in the 2nd period. A loose puck was heading towards the slot and Bachman came out to play it. Porter got the jump on Bachman and beat him to the puck. All it took was a quick deke and light back-handed shot for Porter to put the Amerks up 2-0. 8:45 into the 3rd period O’Regan redirected Borgen’s shot from the point, putting the Amerks up 3-0. As the period neared the 13 minute mark Nylander broke in on net for a quality scoring opportunity but Bachman made the save. The ref’s hand went up on the play signaling a delayed penalty. Then in a odd moment, Utica’s Jesse Graham slapped the puck in anger and the puck ended up in the back of the net. Nylander was given credit for the goal since he was the last Amerk that touched the puck. The refs discussed the goal and decided that even though there was a delayed penalty pending against the Comets, slapping the puck didn’t constitute control and therefore the goal was good. With this fluke goal Utica’s night was over.

Tyler Randell and Vincent Arseneau gave the crowd at the Blue Cross Arena a boost of energy early in the 3rd period with a fight in front of the Amerks bench. Arseneau landed several punches early but I’d give this match to Randell, who landed several punches late and snapped back to his feet after losing his footing not once, but twice. Randell ultimately ended the fight after Arseneau lost his helmet.

Pilut had assists on 3 of 4 Amerks goals, Olofsson tallied another assist, and Redmond scored another power play goal. With their continued production, Olofsson, Redmond, and Pilut are currently the leading scorers in the AHL (in that order).

While he isn’t leading the league in points, Porter has really impressed me this season. He continually demonstrates his veteran experience with smart plays all over the ice. His 2nd period goal was a clear example of that experience and he made it look easy. Nylander, who I have been critical of in the past, is showing signs of improvement. Instead of standing out for turnovers and ducking checks, he is finding the puck and getting to the net. He even played the body a bit last night, opting for throwing his shoulder instead of avoiding contact along the boards. Nylander still needs a lot of development but I no longer consider him a liability — and dare I say it — he’s developing into an asset.

Coach Chris Taylor deserves a lot of credit for keeping the locker room attitude positive after a rough start to the 2018-19 season. The Amerks have righted the ship and currently lead their division.

The Amerks face the Laval Rocket tonight at the Blue Cross Arena at 7:05pm.

Chris Schiffner is the man behind the Amerks Extra Twitter feed and the chief editor of AmerksExtra.com. Chris founded Amerks Extra in order to provide fans with a voice during one of the most tumultuous periods in the organization's history. Amerks Extra has evolved into a leading source for Amerks news and discussion. When not covering Amerks Hockey, Chris is on the ice playing the game himself.

Amerks Look To Avoid Repeat of an Attrocious Opening Night

Amerks fans that missed portions of Friday night’s game due to long security and concession lines were the lucky ones. Following a playoff showing last season and lots of roster changes in the off-season, expectations were high. The Amerks failed to deliver, losing 6-2 to the Charlotte Checkers. While fans in Buffalo booed the Sabres for a poor showing on opening night, fans in Rochester, who also had to deal with poor arena management, simply got out of their seat and left. Some went to find the dinner they couldn’t purchase in the arena. Some went home. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that nothing went right on opening night, on or off the ice.

C.J. Smith scored early in the 2nd period with an impressive shot on a lead pass at the offensive blue line from Kyle Criscuolo. Lawrence Pilut, who had an assist on C.J. Smith’s goal, scored late in the 2nd. Neither goal was enough to neutralize the Charlotte Checkers powerhouses Janne Kuokkanen (2G, 1A), Nicolas Roy (2G, 1A), and Andrew Poturalski (1G, 3A). By the mid-point of the 3rd period it was like the Amerks were playing an NHL team — an NHL team that was sitting back to avoid embarrassing the opponent they have to face again the following night.

So what went wrong? Everything. In the offensive zone the Amerks defense was jumping into the play rather than guarding the blue line. In the defensive end Amerks forwards weren’t supporting defense. The Amerks rush was a hot mess (hotter than the food being served at the concession stands!). The Amerks constantly turned over the puck. To top it all off the entire roster avoided physical contact like they were Alexander Nylander in the playoffs. Chris Taylor said as much in his post-game interview (minus my colorful description about physicality).

Taylor isn’t quite sure what he saw on the ice but it wasn’t what he’s been coaching. Fans aren’t quite sure what happened anywhere in the arena. One thing is certain — if Saturday night’s game is a repeat of Friday night, it will set a disastrous tone for the 2018-19 season.

Chris Schiffner is the man behind the Amerks Extra Twitter feed and the chief editor of AmerksExtra.com. Chris founded Amerks Extra in order to provide fans with a voice during one of the most tumultuous periods in the organization's history. Amerks Extra has evolved into a leading source for Amerks news and discussion. When not covering Amerks Hockey, Chris is on the ice playing the game himself.

Opening Night — New Scoreboard Shines, Bad Hockey, and An Arena Management Disaster

The Rochester Americans opened their 2018-19 season against the Charlotte Checkers in Rochester Friday night. Expectations were high following a somewhat successful 2017-18 season that broke a multi-year playoff drought and returned the Amerks to a winning record for the first time since 2013-14. The new season brought lots of changes in tow. The arena is now being managed by Pegula Sports and Entertainment, there’s a snazzy new scoreboard, a new video ribbon along Court Street, and the City of Rochester has promised lots of additional arena upgrades. For all intents and purposes, tonight should have been the start of something great. Unfortunately fans instead had to suffer through bad hockey and poor arena management. The Amerks lost 6-2 with the only real bright spot being C.J. Smith’s goal in the 2nd period. The real story, however, was arena management (or lack thereof).

Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) was awarded an interim management contract for the Blue Cross Arena during the offseason, replacing SMG. The change in arena management requires review (and resulting changes) for arena service providers. One of the services commonly outsourced is food and beverage operations. PSE hired Delaware North to handle food and beverage services at the Blue Cross Arena. While SMG was widely criticized for poor management of the arena, tonight’s home opener verged on total incompetence. There were numerous complaints about food being served cold. Food options were significantly limited compared to last season. Many food choices were eliminated while most returning food items saw significant price increases. Few concession stands had menus or prices posted. Not only were food choices (and by fan’s reports, quality) lacking, but the staff were not competent and in many cases rude. One example of a customer service issue was the grill corner along the Court Street end of the arena. They have increased prices and packaged fries with many menu items. Prior to the start of the game they were not able to serve fries due to an issue with the deep fryer. Customers were told they had to pay full price even though the stand was unable to serve the included fries. I personally received numerous comments/complaints about concessions throughout the arena (just look at the replies to my tweets on this subject on twitter!). I reached out to Delaware North for comment, who immediately confirmed that they are now managing food and beverage services at the Blue Cross Arena but did not respond to questions about tonight’s issues by the time of this article’s publication.

The management issues weren’t limited to food and beverage services. Some bathrooms ran out of soap by the first intermission. By the second intermission some bathrooms had run out of toilet paper. Water fountains had such low water pressure that they were not usable. Fans that arrived to the arena close to game time were faced with long security lines that resulted in missing some of the 1st period. These issues fall entirely within PSE’s scope of responsibility. Hopefully these are little more than temporary issues for a new management team…but it certainly left fans feeling unappreciated.

Lets wrap up this article on a positive note —the new scoreboard is beautiful!

Chris Schiffner is the man behind the Amerks Extra Twitter feed and the chief editor of AmerksExtra.com. Chris founded Amerks Extra in order to provide fans with a voice during one of the most tumultuous periods in the organization's history. Amerks Extra has evolved into a leading source for Amerks news and discussion. When not covering Amerks Hockey, Chris is on the ice playing the game himself.

Pegula’s Awarded NLL Expansion Team In Rochester — New Scoreboard — Blue Cross Arena Upgrades Outlined

IMG_6639
IMG_6640
IMG_6641
IMG_6642
IMG_6646
IMG_6652
NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Today’s press event at the Blue Cross Arena served two purposes. First, to announce that the Pegula’s are being awarded an NLL expansion team for the 2019-20 NLL season. Second, to announce additional improvements and funding for the Blue Cross Arena.

The Pegula’s NLL expansion team will retain the Rochester Knighthawks name and its history. That being said, with the exception of the team’s branding and fanbase, the Rochester Knighthawks will be a new franchise. All of the players under contract for Curt Styres current franchise along with his staff (management included) will be moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia for the 2019-20 season. The Rochester Knighthawks expansion team will be selected from an NLL expansion draft. Nothing is changing for the 2018-19 season. The Rochester Knighthawks will play at the Blue Cross Arena under Curt Styres ownership.

There are numerous improvements being made to the Blue Cross Arena and there were lots of numbers being thrown around at today’s press conference. To date approximately $18 million in funding has been secured. Governor Cuomo has pledged $6 million via the ROC the Riverway Program, Senators Robach and Funke have secured $3.5 million, Assembly members Bronson, Gantt, and Morelle have secured $3.5 million, the City of Rochester has committed $3.3 million, and the New York Power Authority has pledged $275,000 for lighting upgrades (LED). Additionally the Pegula’s have pledged up to $1.5 million for a new scoreboard.

The only public-facing project expected to be completed before the start of the 2018-19 Amerks season is a new scoreboard. The old scoreboard has already been removed, and while I did not snap any pictures as I passed through the arena, I can assure you the new scoreboard installation is well underway. The new scoreboard is a high-definition Daktronics scoreboard. Four new 10ft by 16ft panels are wrapped and waiting to be mated with a new steel structure being assembled on the arena floor. The new scoreboard also features upper and lower LED panels. In addition to the main scoreboard, the Court Street scoreboards have been removed and there is a large ribbon board that will be installed in their place. I was not able to confirm if there are additional ribbon boards being installed anywhere else in the arena.

A new expansion on the the Genesee River side of the arena was unveiled. The renderings indicate that the expansion will house a restaurant, which during media questioning Mayor Warren indicated would mirror the 716 restaurant in Buffalo. That portion of the renovation is still in the very early stages. Who will operate the restaurant and the funding requirements to build out the space are not yet known. An arena expansion along Exchange St., which will expand office space and add a seating area near the Exchange St. concessions was outlined in a previous announcement. That project is now fully funded and is set for completion next summer.

Mayor Warren mentioned that a new roof and lighting upgrades are planned for the near future. No concrete schedule for those upgrades was offered. Whether the funding for the new roof was included in the $18 million currently secured was not made clear. The lighting upgrades are being funded by the New York Power Authority.

Sound system improvements are planned but no schedule for completion was offered. The same goes for bathroom upgrades — they are planned but renovations likely won’t begin until next summer.

Kim Pegula offered some insight as to why many improvements are being delayed until next year. Primarily that the building is showing its age and lots of “behind the scenes” upgrades are necessary before moving onto larger public-facing projects.

While the arena upgrades are exciting, perhaps the most important message delivered today is that the Pegula’s have committed themselves to Rochester. Throughout the last few years there have been rumors about moving the Amerks to another city. Where those rumors originated is anyone’s guess, but today’s press conference should put those rumors to rest. The Rochester Americans, Rochester Knighthawks, and the Pegula’s are staying in Rochester for the foreseeable future.

Chris Schiffner is the man behind the Amerks Extra Twitter feed and the chief editor of AmerksExtra.com. Chris founded Amerks Extra in order to provide fans with a voice during one of the most tumultuous periods in the organization's history. Amerks Extra has evolved into a leading source for Amerks news and discussion. When not covering Amerks Hockey, Chris is on the ice playing the game himself.

Botterill Reshapes Goalie Landscape – Signs Carter Hutton and Scott Wedgewood

This morning marked the beginning of the 2018-19 NHL Free Agency Hunger Games. As expected the Sabres have had their hand in the cookie jar and what they pulled out is deals with two solid goalies. The Sabres signed Carter Hutton as their first-string goalie and Scott Wedgewood as the Amerks first-string goalie. Linus Ullmark will be the Sabres backup net-minder and Adam Wilcox will backup Wedgewood for the Amerks.

Carter Hutton is coming off an excellent season with the St. Louis Blues where he earned a save percentage of .931 and a goals against average of 2.09. He should expect to share time with Ullmark as the Sabres look to groom Ullmark for the top job, but Hutton will be the Sabres top goalie. His 3-year deal with an average of $2.75 mil represents a relative bargain in today’s market. Apparently Hutton turned down more money and focused on the Sabres offer because it was for the starting position.

Scott Wedgewood is an interesting acquisition for the Amerks. He most recently played for the Arizona Coyotes where he endured a low point in his career (save percentage of .893 and a goals against average of 3.45 across 20 games). The Coyotes went on to finish 29th in the NHL so it’s not fair to judge his performance based solely on his time with them. Wedgewood has the potential to be an excellent goaltender. He was drafted in the 3rd round (84th overall) by the New Jersey Devils where he had a good start to his professional career. In 2016 Wedgewood sustained a severe shoulder injury that required surgery to repair and had him sidelined for 6 months. Wedgewood is now healthy and he’s joining a club with far more talent than the club he’s departing. Rather than dwell on Wedgewood’s performance in Arizona fans should focus on his performance in New Jersey.

Chris Schiffner is the man behind the Amerks Extra Twitter feed and the chief editor of AmerksExtra.com. Chris founded Amerks Extra in order to provide fans with a voice during one of the most tumultuous periods in the organization's history. Amerks Extra has evolved into a leading source for Amerks news and discussion. When not covering Amerks Hockey, Chris is on the ice playing the game himself.
sponsored by

The Amerks Are Burning Down The House

Last night the Rochester Americans faced the Utica Comets in a lightly attended Friday night home game at the Blue Cross Arena. A kitchen fire left Utica’s goalie Richard Bachman in a haze during the 2nd period, but it was the Amerks who smoked Bachman scoring 2 goals on just 3 shots in the 3rd… Continue Reading

Amerks Look To Avoid Repeat of an Attrocious Opening Night

Amerks fans that missed portions of Friday night’s game due to long security and concession lines were the lucky ones. Following a playoff showing last season and lots of roster changes in the off-season, expectations were high. The Amerks failed to deliver, losing 6-2 to the Charlotte Checkers. While fans in Buffalo booed the Sabres… Continue Reading

Opening Night — New Scoreboard Shines, Bad Hockey, and An Arena Management Disaster

The Rochester Americans opened their 2018-19 season against the Charlotte Checkers in Rochester Friday night. Expectations were high following a somewhat successful 2017-18 season that broke a multi-year playoff drought and returned the Amerks to a winning record for the first time since 2013-14. The new season brought lots of changes in tow. The arena… Continue Reading

Pegula’s Awarded NLL Expansion Team In Rochester — New Scoreboard — Blue Cross Arena Upgrades Outlined

Today’s press event at the Blue Cross Arena served two purposes. First, to announce that the Pegula’s are being awarded an NLL expansion team for the 2019-20 NLL season. Second, to announce additional improvements and funding for the Blue Cross Arena. The Pegula’s NLL expansion team will retain the Rochester Knighthawks name and its history…. Continue Reading

Botterill Reshapes Goalie Landscape – Signs Carter Hutton and Scott Wedgewood

This morning marked the beginning of the 2018-19 NHL Free Agency Hunger Games. As expected the Sabres have had their hand in the cookie jar and what they pulled out is deals with two solid goalies. The Sabres signed Carter Hutton as their first-string goalie and Scott Wedgewood as the Amerks first-string goalie. Linus Ullmark… Continue Reading

How The Amerks Can Beat The Crunch, Observations From Practice, MacWilliam Suspension, Nelson Injury Update

As Tuesday’s practiced drew to a close, Coach Taylor called the players into a half-circle. Taylor’s message was clear — the only game that matters is game 3. It doesn’t matter what happened in Syracuse, just focus on winning the game in front of you. The players responded with enthusiasm. Having lost the first two… Continue Reading

Game 1 Recap: Syracuse Dominated, Amerks Looked Lost

Last night’s game against the Syracuse Crunch started on a positive note. Porter carried the puck down ice, held the puck until his defender committed to him, and chipped the puck over to Bailey who was wide open in the middle of the ice. The pass missed its mark but Bailey managed to scoop it… Continue Reading

When the Amerks Season Started to Fall Apart…and Why

The Amerks have been in freefall since the second week of January. After winning 12 out of 17 games, they were shutout by the Syracuse Crunch on January 13th by a score of 4-0. Since that shutout loss the Amerks have won just 3 of their last 15 games. The Amerks are currently 4th in… Continue Reading

Ullmark Proved He’s Ready For The Top Job

Photo credit: Sabres PR There’s little hope for the Sabres this season. Having won just 11 of 44 games there is only one team with a worse record – the Arizona Coyotes. As poorly as this season has played out, Ullmark’s performance in last night’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets offered Sabres fans a… Continue Reading

Here Comes Buffalo…?

If you would have told me the Buffalo Sabres would be 3-7-2 after 12 games I would’ve called you crazy. To find a record worse you have to go back to the tank year of 14-15 when the Sabres started 2-9 (including any OT losses). Phil Housley and GM Botterill have their work cut out… Continue Reading