4/27 Recap: Pysyk, Shipley advance; Leduc lights lamp

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, April 28, 2012 | 4/28/2012

Mark Pysyk recorded an assist Friday as Edmonton won the WHL Eastern Conference final with a 4-1 win over Moose Jaw. Following the game, the captain opted to honor the superstition of not touching the conference trophy as part of their preparation for what should be an amazing championship battle with the Portland Winterhawks. Pysyk, who has seven points (2+5) and a +6 rating through 13 playoff games, will now draw the assignment of shutting down a Ty Rattie-Sven Bartschi combo that has combined for 54 points in 15 games. The series opens next Thursday in Edmonton.

Steven Shipley went without a point as Niagara captured their first Bobby Orr Trophy as OHL Eastern Eastern Conference champions with a 3-2 game five win over Ottawa. The 6'3 center has posted just one assist in his last 11 games while showing upped intensity and third-line checking value. The IceDogs, who skated the trophy around the ice for the home fans, move on to face the London Knights for the rights to represent the Ontario Hockey League at the 2012 Memorial Cup.

Elsewhere, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc scored his eighth goal of the playoffs as Rimouski inched their way closer to a berth in the QMJHL final with a 9-0 shellacking of Halifax. The power play mark was Leduc's 15th point in 16 games. His eight goals are three more than any other Canadian junior blueliner this postseason. Holding the 3-2 series lead, the Oceanic will need the momentum of the blowout win when they skate into Halifax for Sunday's game six.

4/28/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

4/25 Recap: Trio blanked as series play on

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, April 27, 2012 | 4/27/2012

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (+1) fired five shots on goal Wednesday but was unable to light the lamp as Rimouski was defeated by Halifax 3-1 in game #4 of their QMJHL semifinal. The series is deadlocked at two games each with game #5 coming Friday in Rimouski.

Mark Pysyk was even as Edmonton saw their 22-game winning streak end with a 5-1 loss at Moose Jaw. The Oil Kings, who remain in control of the Eastern Conference final with 3-1 lead, will get another crack at advancing to the WHL Championship Friday in Edmonton. The winner will play the Portland Winterhawks.

Steven Shipley was left off the scoresheet as Niagara skated to a 5-2 win over Ottawa. Leading the OHL Eastern Conference final by a 3-1 count, the IceDogs will look to close out the 67's Friday in St. Catharines. The London Knights await the series winner.
4/27/2012 | 1 comments | Read More

4/24 Recap: Leduc unloads in loss; Pysyk looks "good"

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | 4/25/2012

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc scored his seventh goal of the playoffs Tuesday as Rimouski was defeated by Halifax 4-3 in game #3 of the QMJHL semifinal. The one-time missile tied the game at three midway through the second period. Martin Frk ('12) notched the game winner for the Mooseheads with a rocket of his own at 18:38 of the second, while Nathan MacKinnon ('13) notched a pair of assists for his 25th point in 15 playoff games. The Oceanic maintain a 2-1 series lead heading into Wednesday's game #4.

In the WHL playoffs, Mark Pysyk assisted on the game's first goal as Edmonton edged Moose Jaw 3-2 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the WHL Eastern Conference final. The steady 6'2 defender was excellent throughout, using his stick smartly and always being in the right spots in all zones.

In fact, at one point in the middle frame the Warriors announcers stated, "There is no but. Mark Pysyk is good."

The Oil Kings go for their third straight sweep, 23rd win overall (going back to regular season), and first-ever berth in the WHL Championship Wednesday in Moose Jaw.
4/25/2012 | 2 comments | Read More

4/23 Recap: Amerks swept

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | 4/24/2012

The Rochester Americans saw their season come to an end Monday as the Toronto Marlies swept them from the first round of the AHL playoffs with a 3-0 shutout. The Marlies were able to get a goal in the first five minutes of each period, disappointing the over 7,000 fans who packed it in to the Blue Cross Arena.

The Amerks had trouble sustaining offense throughout despite firing 29 shots on Ben Scrivens, including 15 in the middle frame. Former RPI and Team USA junior star Jerry D'Amigo emerged as an Amerks killer, finding the net five times in the three-game sweep. For the last time this season, we'll turn it over to Kevin Oklobzija's Rochester D&C game story for the rest:

“They had a group of guys who bought into the team goals.”

The Amerks were all about team, too. Their team just wasn’t as deep, quick or talented from first line to fourth line.

“Every guy that put on the Americans sweater gave it their all,” captain Colin Stuart said. “We weren’t happy just making the playoffs so it’s still a tough pill to swallow.

The American Hockey League record book will forever show the Amerks lost all three games of the only playoff series they played this spring. Yet in reality, they had already won at least one round just by getting into the Calder Cup playoffs.

With 12 days to go in the regular season, they sat 12th in the Western Conference. Only the top eight teams get invited to the post-season party. The Amerks finished seventh.

Mike Ryan returned to the Amerks lineup for the first time in over two months, while Alex Biega did not play after being suspended for boarding Greg Scott at the end of game 2 on Saturday. David Leggio made 23 saves in his 26th consecutive start.

The Rundown:
Foligno: -2
McNabb: -1, 2 SOG
Brennan: -1, 4 SOG
Adam: 2 SOG
Tropp: -1, 3 SOG
Varone: 1 SOG
Crawford: 1 SOG


In the OHL, Steven Shipley finished +2 as Niagara downed Ottawa 5-2 in game #3 of the OHL Eastern Conference Final. Shipley's line with David Pacan (#2 star) and Mitchell Theoret (#1 star) provided a spark all evening for the Dogs, who take a 2-1 series lead into Wednesday's game #4. Niagara goalie Mark Visentin scored the game's final goal into the empty net with a accurate shot form the other end of the rink.

With the Amerks bounced, Shipley, Mark Pysyk, and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc remain as the only Sabres prospects left in action in the 2011-12 season.
4/24/2012 | 3 comments | Read More

4/22 Recap: Ship assists; Oil Kings keep rolling

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, April 23, 2012 | 4/23/2012

In Sunday action, Steven Shipley snapped a seven-game point drought with an assist as Niagara couldn't overcome an early four-goal deficit en route to a 7-4 loss to Ottawa. While on a second period power play, the 6'3 Shipley (10 black) planted himself at the edge of the paint and nudged the puck to Dougie Hamilton, who ripped a shot to cut it to a 4-3 deficit. Sean Monahan ('13) had a goal and two assists for the 67's, while defenseman Cody Ceci ('12) added a goal and an assist. The clubs will travel to Ottawa and go right back at it Monday with the series locked at one game each.

In game #2 of the WHL Eastern Conference final, Mark Pysyk logged the usual big minutes but did not factor into the scoring as Edmonton rolled past Moose Jaw, 6-1. The Oil Kings, who defeated the Warriors by an identical score in Friday's opener, extend their winning streak to 21 games dating back to the end of the regular season. The series will shift to Moose Jaw for games three and four on Tuesday and Wednesday.
4/23/2012 | 2 comments | Read More

Amerks head home in hole

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, April 22, 2012 | 4/22/2012

The Rochester Americans began the AHL playoffs this week, but have quickly found themselves in a 2-0 series hole after a pair of losses at division rival Toronto.

On Thursday, Phil Varone scored the game's first goal and added an assist but Jerry D'Amigo's second goal of the game with less than five minutes to play gave the Marlies a 4-3 victory in the opener. Marcus Foligno and T.J. Brennan added the Amerks other tallies, while David Leggio made 34 saves in his 24th straight start in the Rochester crease.

The Rundown:
Varone: G, A, 2 SOG
Foligno: G
Brennan: G, -1, 3 SOG
McNabb: even
Biega: A, -1
Crawford: A
Tropp: -1, 2 SOG
Adam: A, 2 SOG

It was deja vu on Saturday, as Foligno, Varone, and Brennan would again get the Rochester goals, but D'Amigo would again score his second of the game in the final minutes, this time with just under two to play, as Toronto skated to their second consecutive 4-3 victory.

The Rundown:
Foligno: G, A, +1, 2 SOG
Brennan: G, +2, 4 SOG
Varone: G, 3 SOG
Biega: A, +2, 2 SOG, 6 PIM
McNabb: A
Crawford: -1
Tropp: -1, 2 SOG
Adam: 2 SOG

The Amerks are now in the tough spot of needing to defeat the Marlies in three straight games to escape the best-of-five. Their first kick at staving off elimination comes with Monday's game #3 at the BCA.
4/22/2012 | 2 comments | Read More

4/21 Recap: Leduc cannon gets Nics a win

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc scored off a blast from the point Saturday with just 56-seconds remaining in regulation to give Rimouski a 5-4 win over Halifax. The victory gives the Oceanic a 2-0 series lead in the QMJHL semifinal with the teams traveling to Rimouski for Tuesday's game three. The power play mark gives Leduc six goals and 13 points through 13 postseason tilts.

4/22/2012 | 1 comments | Read More

4/20 Recap: Trio push off with wins

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, April 21, 2012 | 4/21/2012

In Friday CHL playoff action, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc logged a +1 as Rimouski opened their QMJHL semifinal round with a 4-1 win over Halifax. The 6'1 righty went without a shot on goal for the first time since November 12th, a span of 55 games. Prize 2013 talent Nathan MacKinnon was held without a point for the second time in 12 playoff games, but still made waves with 1:32 left by smoking Casey Babineau with an open-ice hit to set off a scrum. The teams will play it right back with game #2 Saturday in Halifax.

Mark Pysyk played even as Edmonton kicked off the WHL Eastern Conference final with a 6-1 trouncing of Moose Jaw. The victory gives the Oil Kings 20 straight wins going back the end of the regular season. Edmonton forward Henrik Samuelsson ('12) notched three assists to give him nine points through his first seven playoff games. The series will resume Sunday in Edmonton.

In the OHL, Steven Shipley (+1) went without a point for the seventh straight game as Niagara earned a 2-1 overtime win over Ottawa in game #1 of the OHL Eastern Conference final. The Shipley line produced the game winner when Mitchell Theoret lit the lamp at 5:10 of the OT. Game #2 is Sunday in St. Catharines.
4/21/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

4/17 Recap: Sutch scores as Colts get bounced; Leduc plays on

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | 4/18/2012

Gregg Sutch scored an early goal Tuesday but Barrie was defeated by Ottawa 4-3 in overtime of game seven of the OHL Eastern Conference Final. The 6'2 grinder took advantage of a turnover to pot his 2nd of the playoffs just 2:52 in. The Colts would battle back to force OT with :09 left in regulation before 67's forward Brett Gustavsen ended it at 2:09 of the extra session. Alex Lepkowski was +1 on the Colts blueline, finishing the playoffs with two goals, an assist, and a +10 rating in 12 games.

Ottawa advances to the Eastern Conference Final to face Steven Shipley and the Niagara IceDogs. The series begins Friday in St. Catharines.

In the QMJHL, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc earned an assist as Rimouski advanced to the semifinal round with a 5-4 win over Blainville-Boisbriand. The mobile righty advances to the next round with five goals, 12 points, and a +6 rating through 11 postseason contests. After coming back to defeat the Armada in seven games, the Oceanic will square off with Nathan MacKinnon and the Halifax Mooseheads beginning Friday. MacKinnon, who is considered to be the top dog for the 2013 draft, has 11 goals and 21 points in 11 playoff games.
4/18/2012 | 8 comments | Read More

4/15 Recap: Lepkowski, Sutch produce in Colts loss

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, April 16, 2012 | 4/16/2012

Alex Lepkowski scored off a wrister from the point and added an assist Sunday as Barrie was defeated by Ottawa 3-2 to force a game #7 in the OHL Eastern Conference final. The multi-point effort was the second of his three-year career. Gregg Sutch scored the other Colts, his first of the playoffs and first in his last 18 post-season tilts. The clubs will decide the series Tuesday in Ottawa.

In the QMJHL, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc recorded three shots on goal as Rimouski edged Blainville-Boisbriand, 3-2. With the series locked at three games each, the clubs will play #7 Tuesday in Boisbriand.

In other news, the idle Amerks watched on during the final day of the regular season as the chips in place to give them the 7th spot in the AHL’s Western Conference playoffs. Rochester will square off with division rival Toronto for a best-of-five series beginning Thursday.

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 19 – Rochester at Toronto, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 21 – Rochester at Toronto, 3:00
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 23 – Toronto at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 25 – Toronto at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 28 – Rochester at Toronto, 3:00

4/16/2012 | 7 comments | Read More

Adam's mark puts Amerks in position

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, April 15, 2012 | 4/15/2012

With his confidence plummeting to perhaps the lowest point of his pro career in recent weeks, and his club desperate for a victory, Luke Adam scored a very big goal Saturday to break a tie and give the Rochester Americans a 2-1 regulation win over the Lake Erie Monsters in their final game of the AHL regular season.

Adam's mark at 4:14 of the third period, his fourth of the year and second in his last three games, would hold up as Amerks' MVP David Leggio made 16 of his 35 saves in the final frame. Paul Szczechura scored the first Rochester goal, while rookies Brayden McNabb and Marcus Foligno (three-game point streak) chipped in with assists.

The victory gives Rochester 86 points, good for 5th place in the AHL Western Conference entering the final day of the season. While not officially in, their playoff hopes are looking pretty good per the explanation provided by Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

The Rundown:
Adam: G, +1, 6 SOG
McNabb: A, +2
Foligno: A, +1
Crawford: +2
Tropp: +1, 3 SOG
Brennan: 3 SOG
Varone: SOG
Biega: even
4/15/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

Foligno fuels Amerks with season on line

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, April 14, 2012 | 4/14/2012

With their playoff hopes hinging on a positive outcome, Marcus Foligno (#1 star) bagged two goals and an assist Friday to lead Rochester to an important 5-1 victory over Syracuse. The win bumps the Amerks into 7th place in the AHL's Western Conference standings with just one game left to play. A Saturday win over the Lake Erie Monsters, who are tied with Rochester with 84 points but sit in 6th place with two more victories, should give the Amerks a spot in the playoffs.

Nick Crawford, Evan Rankin, and Colin Stuart supplied the other Amerks goals, while Corey Tropp and Derek Whitmore each chipped in two assists. David Leggio made 30 saves for his 27th win of the year and the game's #2 star.

The Rundown:
Foligno: 2G, A
Crawford: G, A
Tropp: 2A
Brennan: +3
McNabb: 2 SOG
Adam: +1
Varone: even

A Saturday win gives the Amerks a legitimate playoff shot. Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester D&C goes over the scenarios here.

In Friday QMJHL play, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc notched an assist as Rimouski lost game #5 of their playoff quarterfinal 3-2 to Blainville-Boisbriand. The helper was Leduc's 11th point through nine playoff games. Tommy Giroux scored the game winning goal for the Armada with under two minutes left in regulation. Trailing the series by a 3-2 margin, the Nics will head home looking to force a game #7 with a win on Sunday.

In the OHL, Alex Lepkowski (+1) and Gregg Sutch (even) did not factor into the scoring as Barrie missed a chance to close their Eastern Conference semifinal by dropping a 2-1 decision to Ottawa. Cody Ceci ('12) scored a power play goal for the 67's. The Colts, who previously had earned a 3-2 win on Thursday, will take a 3-2 series lead back to Barrie for Sunday's game #6.

On Thursday, Steven Shipley went without a point for the sixth straight game as Niagara bounced Brampton from the OHL playoffs with a 3-1 win. Fresh off a sweep of the Troops, the IceDogs will get the winner of the Barrie/Ottawa battle in the OHL Eastern Conference final beginning next week.
4/14/2012 | 1 comments | Read More

4/10-11 Recap: Pysyk strikes; Lepkowski pots winner

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 4/12/2012

On Wednesday, Mark Pysyk scored on a shorthanded break, his 2nd goal of the playoffs, as Edmonton swept Brandon from the WHL playoffs with a 6-0 victory. The Oil Kings captain took a nice saucer pass and lifted a forehand to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead at 9:00 of the opening period. The Oil Kings move on to face Moose Jaw in the Eastern Conference finals beginning next Friday (4/20). Wheat Kings center Kevin Sundher (-2) was unable to gain a point in the four-game defeat, and finishes his disappointing stay in Brandon with five goals and 14 points in 27 games. The six-footer, who previous earned a three-year deal from the Sabres by averaging 1.60 points-per-game with Victoria before his January trade, is now eligible to sign an ATO with Rochester of the AHL.

In the QMJHL, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc picked up an assist as Rimouski evened their quarterfinal series at two games apiece with a 4-3 overtime win over Blainville-Boisbriand. The 6'1 defender has gathered five goals and 10 points in eight postseason tilts. Game #5 takes place on Friday.

In Tuesday action, Alex Lepkowski (+3) scored the game winner on the power play for his first career playoff goal as Barrie downed Ottawa, 5-2. The 6'4 defenseman pounded a slapshot from the point to give the Colts a 3-1 lead in the 2nd period. Colts forward Gregg Sutch returned to the lineup after missing three games due to injury. Barrie now takes a 2-1 series advantage in their Eastern Conference semifinal with game #3 coming Thursday.

Steven Shipley finished -1 as Niagara doubled Brampton, 6-3. After busting out with six points (5+1) in the first four postseason games, the 6'3 center has gone without a point in his last five. With a 3-0 series lead in hand, Niagara will look to use the brooms Thursday night in Brampton.

4/12/2012 | 2 comments | Read More

4/8 Recap: Biega, Leggio key Amerks to victory

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, April 9, 2012 | 4/09/2012

In Sunday AHL action, Alex Biega scored the game winning goal with less than five minutes remaining in regulation to vault Rochester to their second straight win, 4-2 over Adirondack. The road win gives the Amerks 89 points, good for 10th in the AHL's Western Conference with just three games left to play.

David Leggio made 46 saves for his 26th win of the year but was somehow not among the game's three stars. Phil Varone, Evan Rankin, and Paul Szczechura scored the other Amerks goals.

Rochester will next host Grand Rapids on Tuesday with two key points on the line.

In the OHL, Alex Lepkowski finished +2 as Barrie bested Ottawa 3-2 in double overtime to even their series at one game apiece. Gregg Sutch missed his third straight game due to injury. Game #3 is Tuesday in Barrie.

Steven Shipley was held off the scoresheet as Niagara got past Brampton, 3-1. The IceDogs hold a 2-0 series lead with game #3 taking place Tuesday night in St. Catharines.
4/09/2012 | 12 comments | Read More

4/7 Recap: Varone winner gets Amerks on track

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, April 8, 2012 | 4/08/2012

In Saturday playoff action, Mark Pysyk logged a -2 as Edmonton held on for a 4-3 win over Brandon. The Oil Kings now hold a 2-0 series lead in the WHL Eastern Conference semifinal with game #3 taking place Tuesday in Brandon. Kevin Sundher did not factor into any of the three Wheat Kings goals. The six-foot center has a goal and two assists in seven postseason tilts. 

In the QMJHL, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc landed four shots on goal but could not register as Rimouski was shut out by Blainville-Boisbriand, 2-0. With no points in his last two games, Leduc slips to 4th in QMJHL playoff scoring for defensemen (4+4). The series is now tied at a game apiece with the teams heading back to Rimouski for Tuesday's game #3.

In the AHL, Phil Varone scored the game winner just 1:34 into the third period to give Rochester a 3-1 win over Hamilton. Even Rankin and Derek Whitmore also scored for the Amerks, who snapped a a five-game winless skid with four games remaining and the final Western Conference playoff spot still within range. David Leggio made 25 saves in his 19th consecutive start in the Amerks crease.

The Rundown:
Varone: GWG, +2, 3 SOG
Crawford: A, +1
Foligno: 2 SOG
Adam: SOG
Szydlowski: SOG
Tropp: even
Biega: even
Fienhage: even

The Amerks visit Adirondack on Sunday.
4/08/2012 | 1 comments | Read More

Sundher regaining form

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, April 7, 2012 | 4/07/2012

The Edmonton Sun chimes in on Brandon center Kevin Sundher, who looks to be turning the corner at the right time as the Wheat Kings battle Mark Pysyk and the WHL regular season champion Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round of the playoffs.

The six-foot Sundher did most of his damage as a Victoria Royal this season, racking up 21 goals and 32 assists in 33 games en route to signing a three-year contract with the Sabres on December 15th. But despite leading all Sabres prospects with 75 points, the Surrey, B.C. native has struggled to achieve consistency since he was dealt to the Wheaties a month later.

Kevin Sundher knows the pressure he’s under.

For most of his Western Hockey League career with the Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals franchise, the 2010 Buffalo Sabres third-round pick was able to fly under the radar somewhat, while putting up impressive offensive numbers.

But when you’re the biggest name to move at this year’s trade deadline — the pressure gets magnified.

Especially when you’re expected to take some of the offensive pressure off of Mark Stone, who finished second in WHL scoring with 123 points in 66 games and starred for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior.

His time with the Brandon Wheat Kings has been a roller-coaster ride after being acqured Jan. 9 for defenceman Jordan Fransoo, forward Dakota Conroy and a 2012 first-round bantam pick.

After averaging over a point a game the past two years, Sundher registered just 11 points in 18 games with the Wheat Kings and he missed 13 of the final 14 regular-season games, battling concussion symptoms.

In the Wheat Kings five-game series victory over the Calgary Hitmen in round one, Sundher posted just three points, as Brandon did a good job spreading the offence around.

“I came here with a pretty hefty price tag, and there’s a lot of expectations,” said Sundher.
“I haven’t produced the way I’ve wanted to ... it’s been up and down and a real battle for me, but I feel like I’m starting to get back to form.”

The Wheat Kings and Oil Kings will play game #2 of their conference semi-final Saturday night at Rexall Place. Sundher will look to again provide a spark on Brandon's top two lines while Pysyk will log major minutes on the OK's top pair with Keegan Lowe.
4/07/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

4/6 Recap: Leduc streak snapped

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc saw his four-game point streak come to an end Friday as Rimouski defeated Blainville-Boisbriand 5-3 in game #1 of the QMJHL quarterfinal. While not getting in on any of the goals, the 6'1 defenseman did fire a game-best seven shots. Leduc continues to lead league blueliners with eight points (4+4) through five postseason tilts. He'll play his sixth when the Nics travel to Blainville for Saturday's game #2.

In the WHL, Mark Pysyk skated even as top-seeded Edmonton opened their WHL Eastern Conference semifinal with a 2-1 overtime win over Brandon. Kevin Sundher did not record a point but helped get the Wheat Kings going in the third when he was bumped up to center the top line with Mark Stone and Michael Ferland. Brandon would fire 15 of their 29 shots in the final period, including an excellent two-on-one opportunity for Sundher, but could only get one past Laurent Brossiot to fall behind 1-0 in the best of seven series. The two clubs will play game #2 Saturday in Edmonton.

In the OHL, Steven Shipley helped provide late pressure despite being held without a point as Niagara downed Brampton 2-1 in overtime. Amherst native Dylan Blujus ('12) finish +1 for the Troops, who take a 1-0 series deficit back home to Brampton for Sunday's game #2.

Alex Lepkowski finished -1 and Gregg Sutch remained out with an injury as Barrie lost to Ottawa, 5-1. Rochester native Shane Prince earned the game's #1 star with two goals and an assist for the 67's. Game #2 will be played Sunday afternoon in Ottawa.
4/07/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

Knapp, Catenacci under contract

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | 4/03/2012

The Sabres announced Tuesday that they have signed goaltender Connor Knapp (2009, 6th round, 164th overall) and center Dan Catenacci (2011, 3rd round, 77th overall) to entry-level contracts. The duo are expected to join the Rochester Americans of the AHL, who are currently in Abbotsford, B.C. for a Tuesday/Wednesday set with the Heat.

The 5'10 Catenacci inks a three-year deal on the heels of a 2011-12 campaign that saw him pot 33 goals and  72 points in 67 games for the OHL's Owen Sound Attack. The quick-footed pivot earned the contract with a strong finish, including a red-hot stretch from January 21st to March 3rd that saw him gather 13 goals and 23 points in 16 games. After spending the balance of this season on an amateur tryout, the 19-year old Catenacci is expected to return to Owen Sound in 2012-13 and hope to get on the radar for Team Canada's selection Camp for the 2013 World Junior Championship.

The 6'6 Knapp emerged as one of college hockey's hottest goaltenders after January 1st, taking control of the RedHawks #1 job for the first time in his career by posting a 12-4 record with five shutouts in his final 16 starts as a collegian. He'd finish the year 15-8 while placing among national leaders with a 1.69 goals against average and .933 save percentage. His 13 career shutouts are Miami University record. Like Catenacci, Knapp will finish the season on an ATO with the Amerks and begin his two-year deal next season.

The club not waiting until the last minute to get the deals done is just another sign that the new ownership group is committed to improving the team's image around the league. 2010 draft picks Mark Pysyk, Kevin Sundher, and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc were previously locked in well before due date. It's quite a change from the days of the Sabres going into May with a plate full of entry-level decisions.

4/03/2012 | 8 comments | Read More

4/1-2 Recap: Sutch out as clubs advance

Alex Lepkowski was +1 with a minor penalty Monday as Barrie closed out their first round series with a 3-2 overtime win at Mississauga. Fourth-line grinder Gregg Sutch did not play due to a separated shoulder, and is expected to remain out of the lineup when the Colts begin their second round tilt with Ottawa on Friday.

On Sunday, Steven Shipley (+1) was held without a point for the second straight game as Niagara advanced to the second round of the OHL playoffs with a 4-1 win over Oshawa. The 6'3 center collected five goals and an assist in the six game victory. The IceDogs move on to face the Brampton Battalion, who feature West Seneca native Dylan Blujus ('12) on the blueline. The puck drops on game #1 Friday night in St. Catharines.
4/03/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

3/31 Recap: Shipley's streak ends; Amerks blanked

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, April 1, 2012 | 4/01/2012

In Saturday action, Steven Shipley saw his four-game point streak come to an end as Niagara took control of their first round playoff series with a 5-2 win over Oshawa. Generals netmidner Daniel Altshuller ('12) made 57 saves in defeat. With a three games to two lead, the East's top seeded IceDogs will look to close it out Sunday in Oshawa.

Gregg Sutch (even) and Alex Lepkowski (+1) did not factor into the scoring as Barrie defeated Mississauga 2-1 in game #5 of their OHL Eastern Conference playoff matchup. D-camp invite Steven Beyers scored a shorthanded goal for the Colts, who now hold a 3-2 series lead heading into game #6 Monday in Mississauga.

In the AHL, the call-up depleted Amerks fired 27 shots on goal but came up empty in a 1-0 loss to Toronto. The Amerks were playing shorthanded as Brayden McNabb and T.J. Brennan joined Corey Tropp and Marcus Foligno with the Sabres in Toronto. Dennis Persson paced the offense with five shots on goal, while David Leggio made 28 saves in his 16th straight start.

The Amerks will now hit the road for their next four games with the first two coming Tuesday and Wednesday in Abbotsford.
4/01/2012 | 2 comments | Read More