4/19 Recap: Schaller closes well; Amerks draw Chicago

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, April 20, 2014 | 4/20/2014

Tim Schaller scored a pair of goals, and Connor Knapp made 30 saves Saturday as Rochester closed the 2013-14 regular season schedule with a 4-3 loss at Toronto. Frederick Roy scored the other Amerks goal, while Chad Ruhwedel added a two helpers as head coach Chadd Cassidy rested some of his key performers. Schaller's effort completes an impressive stretch run for the first-year pro that saw him net nine of his 18 season points in the final seven games. The Amerks, who finished in the seventh spot in the AHL's Western Conference standings, will open the 2014 playoffs Friday on home ice versus the Chicago Wolves.

In the USHL, Judd Peterson watched from the stands for the second straight game as Cedar Rapids was eliminated from postseason play with 7-3 loss at Dubuque in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Peterson, who was set back with an unspecified injury last weekend in Game 2, recorded five shots on goal in two playoff tilts. The 20-year old is set to enroll at St. Cloud State University in the fall.
4/20/2014 | 1 comments | Read More

4/18 Recap: Amerks offense clicking at right time

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, April 18, 2014 | 4/18/2014

Five different players provided goals, and Andrey Makarov (No. 2 star) stopped 22 of 23 shots to extend his winning streak to seven straight starts as Rochester downed in-state rival Syracuse 5-1 Friday in the 2013-14 home finale at Blue Cross Arena. Veteran forward Brayden Irwin (No. 1 star) and Phil Varone (No. 3 star) each contributed a goal and an assist, while Tim Schaller, Luke Adam and Nick Deslauriers supplied single markers.

Schaller, fresh off being named the Amerks' Most Improved Player prior to the opening faceoff, opened scoring at 7:44 when he finished off a Colton Gillies feed for his ninth goal of the season.

Rochester would get another goal at 11:04 when Adam stole the puck from Crunch netminder Cedrick Desjardins following a misplayed Dan Catenacci dump-in. The marker was Adam's team-leading 29th of the season.

Just under two minutes later, Irwin sent the Amerks to the dressing room with a 3-0 first intermission lead when he cashed a power play chance down low. Irwin, who draw a secondary helper on the Schaller marker, has 13 points in his last nine games.

Rochester would keep the goals coming early into period two, as Deslauriers scored his first in an Amerks uniform to extend the lead to 4-0 in the 23nd minute. Kevins Porter and Sundher would pick up assists on the play, which quickly prompted Crunch bench boss Rob Zettler to call a timeout to have some words with his group.

Syracuse would eventually score off a three-on-one rush at 3:33 of the third, but the Amerks would eventually restore the four-goal lead with less than five minutes to play when Varone redirected a Johan Larsson centering feed for the game's final tally.

Makarov has been a revelation for the Sabres organization of late, winning all seven of his April starts while compiling a 1.98 GAA and .931 save%.

Chad Ruhwedel earned an assist in his return the Amerks blueline after suffering a mild concussion during his stay in Buffalo, while Joel Armia remained out of the lineup for the second consecutive game due to illness.

The Amerks conclude regular season play Saturday afternoon in Toronto. 

In the USHL, Connor Hurley produced three shots on goal as the Green Bay Gamblers were eliminated from the playoffs with a 1-0 loss to Indiana in Game 4 of the best-of-five Eastern Conference semifinal. Hurley finishes postseason play with four points (2+2), all of which came in the Gamblers' Game 2 victory.

Also from the USHL East, Judd Peterson (injured) did not play as Cedar Rapids was blanked by Dubuque 1-0 in Game 3 of their semifinal tilt. The Roughriders will look to avoid elimination when the two clubs go back at it on Saturday.
4/18/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

4/17 Recap: Petersen sharp as Black Hawks advance

Cal Petersen made 23 saves Thursday as the Waterloo Black Hawks completed a three-game sweep of the Sioux Falls Stampede in a USHL Western Conference Clark Cup semifinal series with a 7-2 victory. Waterloo advances to the Western Conference finals where it will face either Omaha or Sioux City. Sioux City leads that series 2-0 heading into Friday's Game 3. Petersen, who improves to 3-0 in postseason play with a 3.00 GAA and .890 save%, will likely get the call when the Black Hawks open the conference final next Friday on home ice.

Elsewhere, Connor Hurley contributed two shots on goal as Green Bay was blanked by Indiana 1-0 in Game 3 of the USHL Eastern Conference Semifinal. The Gamblers, who mustered just 12 shots on goal all game en route to falling into a 2-1 series deficit, will look to stave off elimination Friday when the teams meet again in Green Bay for Game 4.
4/18/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

4/16 Recap: Amerks punch ticket

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 4/17/2014

Andrey Makarov made 31 saves Wednesday as the Rochester Americans clinched a spot in the AHL playoffs with a 4-1 win over Utica. Colton Gillies scored twice to pace the Amerks offense, while Kevin Porter and Phil Varone provided single markers. Joel Armia (illness) did not dress in the victory. Rochester holds the seventh position in the Western Conference standings with two games to play. The best-of-five playoff opponent will be determined this weekend with Texas or Grand Rapids being the likely foe. 
4/17/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

4/13 Recap: Carrier done; Amerks inch closer to playoffs

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, April 14, 2014 | 4/14/2014

William Carrier saw his season come to an end Sunday as Drummondville was bounced from the playoffs with a 3-2 loss to Val-d’Or in Game 6 of their QMJHL quarterfinal series. Carrier played in just two of the series’ six games for the Voltigeurs, notching an assist, four shots on goal, and a plus-one rating. The 19-year old, who was nursing a lower body injury sustained in Drummondville’s opening round victory over Victoriaville, finishes the playoffs with four points (1+3) in four playoffs games.

In the AHL, Nick Crawford scored a regulation goal and ECHL call-up Mark Guggenberger stopped 41 of 42 shots as Rochester earned a key point with a 2-1 shootout loss at Lake Erie. Guggenberger, who attended the Sabres’ 2012 development camp, capped an excellent AHL debut with an another seven saves in the 10-round shootout. Joel Armia and Kevin Porter each scored shootout markers for the second straight night, but it was a Guillaume Desbiens tally that ended it for the Monsters.

The Amerks remain in seventh place in the Western Conference with 81 points, and now need just one point in their final three games to clinch a postseason spot. The next chance comes Wednesday when Rochester makes the short trip down the I-90 to battle Utica.
4/14/2014 | 1 comments | Read More

4/12 Recap: Fasching scores as Gophers fall; Hurley heats up

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, April 13, 2014 | 4/13/2014

Hudson Fasching scored a late goal but it wasn't enough as Minnesota was knocked off by Union 7-4 in the championship game of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Tournament. The powerful winger was at the doorstep at 16:20 of the third period when he showed good hand-eye coordination to bat the puck into the net and cut the deficit to 5-4 before Union would start the party with two late goals. The disappointment of not winning the title is there, but Fasching has nothing to be ashamed of following an impressive freshman season that saw him collect 14 goals and 30 points in 40 games.

In the USHL, Connor Hurley was a difference maker with a pair of goals and two assists as Green Bay evened the Eastern Conference Semifinal at a game apiece with a 6-5 victory over Indiana. The four-point outburst, Hurley's second of his 2013-14 season, earned the game's number one star and gives the Notre Dame commit the hot hand with the series shifting back to Green Bay on Thursday.

Cal Petersen returned to the Waterloo net, stopping 25 of 28 shots as the Black Hawks doubled Sioux Falls 6-3 in Game 2 of the USHL Western Conference Semifinal. The Black Hawks lead the series 2-0 with Game 3 set for Thursday in Sioux Falls.

Judd Peterson was unable to point as Cedar Rapids broke a tie in the final minute of regulation to edge Dubuque 6-5 in Game 2 of their first round tilt. Peterson has produced five shots on goal through the first two games for the Roughriders, who head to Dubuque on Friday locked in a 1-1 series tie with the Fighting Saints.

In the AHL, veteran forwards Colton Gillies, Kevin Porter, and Brayden Irwin all scored in regulation while Andrey Makarov made 35 saves and another three in the shootout to earn his fifth straight victory as Rochester got past Toronto 4-3. Phil Varone, Joel Armia, and Porter all connected for shootout markers to get the Amerks the important extra point. Rochester currently sits in seventh place in the Western Conference standings with 80 points, three ahead of Oklahoma City with four games left to play. Charlotte and Rockford also have 77 points, but as of now are outside of the playoff picture having played one more game than both the Amerks and Barons.

4/13/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

4/11 Recap: Makarov the man; Knights bounced

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, April 11, 2014 | 4/11/2014

The Rochester Americans continued their fight to get into the playoffs Friday with a 3-1 home-ice victory over the rival Toronto Marlies. Andrey Makarov was excellent in his seventh straight start, stopping 26 of 27 shots for his fourth win in a row and the game's number one star. The victory puts the Amerks back into seventh place in the AHL's Western Conference with five games remaining on the regular season schedule.

The teams traded goals in the opening frame, with Kevin Porter getting the Amerks on the board first at 13:22 thanks in part to a nice shift from Joel Armia, who earned a helper on the play. Armia's assist gives him 26 points (7+19) through his first 52 games of North American hockey.

The teams were unable to produce any goals in the second period, but they would continue the night's parade to the penalty box. Johan Larsson earned his share when he dropped the gloves late in the frame with Marlies forward Kenny Ryan.

With the teams deadlocked at 1-1 in the third period, the Amerks would capitalize on the power play as Luke Adam tipped a Phil Varone shot for his 28th goal of the year, and 16th with the man advantage. The game's second star, Adam's goal total ranks eighth overall in the league.

Minutes later with the Amerks again on the power play, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc connected on a slapper to give the Amerks the 3-1 lead. The insurance marker in the game's 44th minute was Gauthier-Leduc's third of the season and sixth of his two-year AHL career.

Mikhail Grigorenko went without a point for the first time since being assigned to Rochester after getting on the score sheet in his previous three outings. Phil Varone, the game's number two star, notched two assists while contributing five of the Amerks' 21 shots on goal.

The Amerks will get right back at it Saturday when they visit the Hamilton Bulldogs.

In the OHL, Nikita Zadorov and the London Knights were eliminated from the playoffs with a 5-4 loss to Guelph in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal series. Zadorov, who started to show signs of fatigue after logging major minutes through the first four games, finishes the postseason with four goals and nine points in nine contests. London now gets a long break before hosting the 2014 Memorial Cup, with the club opening the festivities Fri., May 16 against the QMJHL representative.

William Carrier remained out of action as Drummondville dropped a 5-2 decision at Val-d'Or in Game 5 of their QMJHL quarterfinal series. The defeat puts Drummondville into a 3-2 series hole with the clubs resuming action on Sunday. Carrier, who has missed seven of the Voltigeurs' 10 postseason games with a lower body injury, has one goal and four points despite the limited duty.

The USHL playoffs kicked off on Friday, with all three Sabres prospects playing in the league this season getting in on the action.

Cal Petersen got the start for top-seeded Waterloo, stopping 25 of 29 shots as the Black Hawks opened the Western Conference semifinal round with a 7-4 triumph over Sioux Falls. Petersen entered the playoffs with 27 wins (t-1st in league), a 2.50 GAA (6th) and a .915 save% (8th) in 38 regular season appearances. The Black Hawks will look to keep the momentum when they host Saturday's Game 2.

Connor Hurley (-1, 3 SOG) was unable to point as Green Bay was blanked by Indiana 2-0 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal. The best-of-five series continues Saturday in Indianapolis.

On the other half of the Eastern Conference bracket, Judd Peterson (-1, 2 SOG) came up empty as Cedar Rapids was edged by Dubuque 2-1. The Roughriders will go for the home-ice split on Saturday before heading to Dubuque next Friday for Game 3.

4/11/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

4/10 Recap: Fasching to skate for title

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, April 10, 2014 | 4/10/2014

Hudson Fasching (+1, SOG) performed well in all-situations while being a regular fixture in front of the opposing goal as Minnesota advanced to 2014 NCAA Frozen Four Championship game with a dramatic 2-1 victory over North Dakota. The game looked to be heading to overtime until senior defenseman Justin Holl scored his first goal of the season with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock to get the Gophers into the title tilt.

Fasching did his usual thing for the winning side, playing both sides of the special teams coin and using his frame to win board battles at even strength. The freshman winger didn't earn a point, but made an impact by getting to the edge of the crease and drawing attention from two North Dakota defenders as Sam Warning freely scored the first goal of the game at 10:51 of the third period. North Dakota would strike back 32 seconds later, creating an exciting pace the rest of the way.

Minnesota moves on to face Union for all the marbles Saturday evening at 7:30 ET (ESPN). Union earned their way in with a 5-4 win over Boston College.

Elsewhere, Nikita Zadorov (-2, 4 PIM) was unable to score as London was bested by Guelph 6-3. The home-ice loss puts the Knights in a 3-1 hole in the OHL Western Conference Semifinal. The Knights, who have played the series without veteran defenders Zach Bell (broken leg) and Sabres prospect Brady Austin (mono), will look to stave off elimination Friday when Game 5 goes down in Guelph.

In the WHL, Logan Nelson was held without a point as Victoria saw their season come to an end with a 5-1 loss to Portland. The Minnesota native recorded three goals and seven points in eight playoff games. If the Sabres intend to sign him, they'll need to lock him up prior to the June 1 deadline.
4/10/2014 | 2 comments | Read More

4/8 Recap: Carrier returns in loss

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | 4/09/2014

William Carrier made his return to the Drummondville lineup Tuesday, notching an assist and one shot on goal as the Voltigeurs lost Game 3 of the QMJHL Quarterfinal to Val-d'Or 5-2. Carrier, who had missed the previous five games with a lower body injury, has gathered a goal and three assists in three postseason games. Drummondville trails the Foreurs 2-1 with Game 4 taking place on Wednesday.

In the OHL, Nikita Zadorov picked up an assist as London dropped a 4-2 decision to Guelph. The big defender has continued to log major minutes and make an impact at both ends of the ice en route to racking up four goals and nine points in seven playoff tilts. Fellow rearguard Brady Austin remained out of the lineup with mono. The Knights are down 2-1 to the Storm heading into Thursday's Game 4.

In the WHL, Logan Nelson recorded an assist as Victoria was defeated by Portland 4-3 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinal. Nelson has seven point in seven games this postseason for the Royals, who trail the series 3-1. The series shifts back to Portland on Thursday.
4/09/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

NHL Central Scouting releases final draft rankings

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | 4/08/2014

Let the games begin.

NHL Central Scouting Service has released their final rankings for the 2014 NHL Draft.

There was some shuffling among possible first-rounders, but there was no change at the top. Sam Bennett remains the top-ranked North American skater, Kasperi Kapanen keeps his spot among as the top European., and Boston College backstop Thatcher Demko is still the top North American goalie.

Alex Tuch, who as a child was neighbors with former Sabres forward Tim Connolly, is the top ranked American skater at No. 12. Anthony DeAngelo (14), Sonny Milano (16), Dylan Larkin (17), and Nick Schmaltz (19) are other Americans ranked in the top 20.

As far as Sabres bloodlines goes, Luc Snuggerud (42), Daniel Audette (75), Dominic Turgeon (97), and Jack Ramsey remain ranked. More information on them can found in this February post.

MUCH more on this later.

Full lists of North American and European skaters and goalies can be accessed here.

Top 30 North American skaters:

12TUCH, ALEXUSA U-18USHLRW6' 3.5"213
4/08/2014 | 1 comments | Read More

4/7 Recap: Nelson provides spark

Logan Nelson notched a power play assist and logged a fighting major Monday as Victoria earned a 2-1 home-ice victory over Portland in Game 3 of their WHL Western Conference Semifinal. The 20-year old forward has collected six points (3+3) in six postseason tilts for the Royals, who trail the series 2-1 heading into Tuesday's Game 4.

4/08/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

4/6 Recap: Zadorov's big night guides Knights

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, April 7, 2014 | 4/07/2014

Nikita Zadorov continued his excellent postseason play Sunday, netting a short-handed goal and adding two assists to earn the game's number two star as London earned a 7-2 victory over Guelph in Game 2 of their OHL Western Conference Semifinal. The big Russian has been a major minute workhorse for the Knights, who with the victory even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. Zadorov has captured four goals, including two while on the penalty kill, and four assists in the Knights' six playoff tilts. The teams now head back to London for Game 3 on Tuesday.

4/07/2014 | 0 comments | Read More

4/5 Recap: Schaller shines in shocker

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, April 6, 2014 | 4/06/2014

The Toronto Marlies got off to a quick start Saturday with a 1-0 lead just 42 seconds into play, but it was the Rochester Americans who got the last laugh by completing an improbable comeback with 43 seconds remaining to claim a key 4-3 road victory.

Despite a strong second-period effort, the Amerks trailed the Marlies 3-0 entering the final frame. It was all Amerks from there, as Tim Schaller capped a natural hat trick in a span of 14:59 with a mark in the game's final minute, and Phil Varone sent a rocket into the upper right corner seconds later to shock the division rival.

Schaller, who entered the afternoon with four goals in his first 65 outings, secured the first multiple-point game of his professional career to earn the game's number one star. Veteran forward Brayden Irwin assisted on all four of the Amerks' goals.

Mikhail Grigorenko rang up two assists to give him four points in three AHL contests, while Joel Armia contributed a team-high seven shots on goal. Andrey Makarov started his third game in four days, making just 13 stops to pick up his third straight win.

The victory vaults the Amerks into the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff race with six games left to play. The two clubs will play a rematch Friday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.

In the WHL, Logan Nelson was kept off the score sheet as Victoria was defeated by Portland 6-3 in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal. The Royals trail the Winterhawks 2-0 with the series heading to Victoria for a pair of games on Monday and Tuesday.

William Carrier missed his fifth game with a lower body injury as Drummondville was defeated by Val-d'Or 4-3 in overtime. The teams split the first two games of the QMJHL quarterfinal series. We'll keep an eye on Carrier's status heading into Tuesday's Game 3.

In the final night of USHL action, Connor Hurley saw his five-game point streak end as Green Bay edged Muskegon 4-3 to claim the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The 18-year old pivot completed his rookie campaign with an even 50 points (13+37) in 56 games. The Gamblers will face Indiana in the opening round beginning next weekend.

Judd Peterson posted one shot on goal as Cedar Rapids closed the regular season with a 3-2 shootout loss to Waterloo. The St. Cloud State commit scored 16 goals in 47 games for the RoughRiders, who draw an opening round matchup with Dubuque.

Cal Petersen was given the night off for the Black Hawks, who earned the Anderson Cup as the league's regular season champion. Petersen completed the schedule tied for the league lead with 27 wins, while posting a 2.50 GAA (6th) and .915 save% (8th). Waterloo will kick off the postseason with a first round series against Sioux Falls.
4/06/2014 | 2 comments | Read More