This Is War: The Jr. Americans Challenge the Beast of the East in Road Trip to Maryland

Mar 21, 2024

Article Written By Aidan Charde
Recap vs. Johnstown Tomahawks on March 15 and 16

This past weekend, the Rochester Jr. Americans came away with three of four points in a split series against the Johnstown Tomahawks. It was officially enough to clinch a postseason spot.

Game one saw goalie Cole O’Donnell return to the ice for the first time since getting injured Dec. 1. He did not see much action as anticipated as the Jr, Americans defense allowed only two shots against Johnstown in the entire frame. While the Jr. Amerks managed 16 shots of their own, it was not until forward Jayden Dyke netted his 10th goal of the season with under three minutes to play that Rochester was able to take the lead.

Forward Matteo Disipio added a goal of his own as the clock ticked down further to extend the lead before the break. Coming out of the locker room, the Jr. Amerks kept the momentum, taking a 3–0 lead after forward Gabe Randel found the back of the net less than a minute into the second period.

After three goals in about three minutes, the Jr. Amerks went quiet offensively. Johnstown tightened the score with two goals in the period before tying it up early into the third period. Neither team scored again, sending the game to overtime, and while Rochester had a terrific powerplay chance in the extra frame, they could not get past the Johnstown goalie.

In the shootout, it looked like Rochester had won after Johnstown missed the tying shot in round three. Both teams began leaving the ice before a late call came in ruling that O’Donnell left the crease early, giving Johnstown a second chance that they were able to capitalize to tie it. After five rounds, the Tomahawks took the win.

Game two looked like it might be ugly early. The Tomahawks were able to get past goalie Danick Leroux twice within the first nine minutes and despite logging 14 shots on goal, Rochester was only able to snag one back with a strike from Disipio before the period ended.

Early in the second period, forward Luca Leighton sniped a shot nearly from the blue line to tie the game before Disipio’s second goal gave the Jr. Amerks the lead four minutes later. Johnstown was able to tie the game again in the third period, but forward Landon Brownlee hit the game-winning goal with four minutes left and Leighton added an empty-netter that traveled all the way across the ice to put the Tomahawks away.

Preview: March 22 and 23 vs. Maryland Black Bears

WHEN: March 22 at 7 p.m. | March 23 at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Piney Orchard Ice Arena | Odenton, MD




The division-leading Maryland Black Bears have been dominant this season, but the Rochester Jr. Americans have been able to keep it close every time the teams have played. The Jr. Amerks are 2–3–1 against Maryland and each game has been decided by two goals or less.

East Division playoff update

Five of the six spots have been claimed but seeding is still up in the air across the division after last weekend’s results. The Black Bears (79 pts) control their own destiny to clinch the first seed, but the Maine Nordiques (74 pts) have been pesky all season — the top two spots have flipped between those two several times. The Jr. Amerks (70 pts) are in third and could still make up the gap to Maine, but it would require phenomenal play. Johnstown (67 pts) and the New Jersey Titans (63 pts) punched their tickets last weekend and are in a battle for the rights to host the first round against each other. The Northeast Generals (50 pts) were in contention for a much higher seed, but they have lost six of their last seven and now may need a miracle to prevent the Philadelphia Rebels (47 pts), who hold three games in hand, from taking the final spot.

Disipio reaches major milestone as Gentile draws closer

Forwards Matteo Disipio and Massimo Gentile are some of the best players in the league this season holding 72 and 69 points, respectively. Disipio earned his 70th point last weekend, becoming the third player to hit the milestone this season, and when Gentile passes the mark, they will be the first pair of teammates to accomplish the feat since the 2018–19 season.

Needing the improved penalty kill

The Jr. Amerks have made drastic improvements to the penalty kill in the second half of the season. The once league-worst mark of 68% has skyrocketed to 81.8%, which is 14th in the league. But part of the reason the team has been able to improve the percentage is because of the high rate of power plays they give their opponents: 258 shorthanded situations and 4.78 such instances per game are both the highest marks in the league. The only other team that comes close is the Northeast Generals with 251, but they also have about 200 more penalty minutes that have been handed out.

Shootouts present problems

For the sixth time this season and fifth straight, the Jr. Amerks took the game to a shootout but failed to bring home the two points. The record of 1–6 in shootouts is not ideal and the six losses are the second most in the league. It is not all bad news, though: the team is actually undefeated in the overtime frame, one of four such teams in the league.

Opposite strengths makes for a must-watch matchup

Defensively, Maryland has been one of the best and most consistent teams, making it hard for teams to run up the score enough to get by the solid offense. Owen Lepak has been one of the most effective backstops in the league this year, stopping 92.6% of shots and allowing just 1.87 per game. But even when he is out of the net, their other goalie Colin Ronan still saves 90.6% of shots and allows just 2.33 goals per game. The Jr. Amerks are not bad in the net, but are closer to league average despite some great individual performances. On offense, it is a different story: Leighton, Disipio and Gentile have been lethal for Rochester this year, each tallying over 26 goals. Maryland, meanwhile, values depth over top-end scorers — eight players have 10 or more goals, but none have more than 20.

Playoff details

The Jr. Amerks will likely be hosting round one of the playoffs, so be sure to buy your tickets on our website! The first two seeds receive a bye for round one, while the three seed hosts the six seed and the four seed hosts the five seed in a best-of-three series. Round one will likely take place April 12, 13 and 14 (if necessary) at the Rochester Ice Center if the Jr. Amerks lock up a top-four finish.


The Rochester Jr. Americans are members of the NAHL which is the oldest and largest junior hockey league of its kind in the United States and one of only two USA Hockey-certified leagues that operate under the non pay-to-play model. The NAHL is also one of the best at advancing players to NCAA and professional hockey. All league games are viewable via NAHLTV. For more information, visit

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