Crossing The Delaware | Jr. Amerks Visit South Jersey To Play Philadelphia

Feb 1, 2024

Article by Aidan Charde
Recap vs. Northeast Generals Jan. 26 and 27

The Rochester Jr. Americans earned their second sweep of the new year and extended their points streak to nine straight games with a pair of wins over the Northeast Generals last weekend.

In the first game, the Jr. Amerks waited until the bitter end to get going. Aside from Conor Humphrey scoring toward the end of the second period, Rochester was kept quiet through most of the game. With four minutes left to play, the Generals held a 2–1 lead and looked like they would take two crucial points.

Instead, in a comeback for the ages, forward Matteo Disipio scored his 18th goal of the season to tie the game with 3:45 left and forward Adam Gionta came through in the clutch to win the game with 30 seconds remaining. Forward Luca Leighton added an empty net goal to ice the contest with just five seconds remaining and make the final score 4–2 Jr. Amerks.

In game two, the Jr. Amerks jumped out to a huge 4–0 lead with 15 minutes left in the second period after an unlikely cast of characters stepped up. Defenseman Jordin Palmer and forwards Gabe Randel, Clay O’Donnell and Jayden Dyke each put one in the net. Palmer and Randel each scored their first NAHL goals while O’Donnell and Dyke scored their fifth and sixth, respectively.

Three unanswered goals by the Generals late in the second period tightened the game up, but the Jr. Amerks defense held strong and forward Massimo Gentile added an empty net shot to put away Northeast for good, with the Jr. Amerks winning 5–3.

Preview: Feb. 2 and 3 vs. Philadelphia Rebels

WHEN: Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. | Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Hollydell Ice Arena | Sewell, NJ




The Philadelphia Rebels have faced the Jr. Americans four times this season, but the standings do not show the full picture. Both teams have won two apiece, but both Rebel victories came by just one goal, with one coming in a shootout. Meanwhile, the Jr. Amerks have won by three goals in both of their wins.

Penalty problems solved?

The Jr. Americans have struggled with the penalty kill all season, but it seems like a switch has been flipped. Going into the series with the Danbury Hat Tricks on Dec. 15, the Jr. Amerks were dead last in the NAHL with a PK% of just 75.5%. In the 10 games since, they are holding opponents to three goals on 41 opportunities — a PK% of 92.7%. It only raises the season total to .794, but it is a change that cannot go unnoticed.

Assistant coach Alyssa Sleasman, who runs the penalty kill for the Jr. Amerks, commented on the team’s improvement in recent weeks on successfully making it back to full strength.

“The PK is something our guys have taken a lot of pride in,” Sleasman said. “We’ve done a great job of improving on the little details with stick and body positioning, reading different situations and knowing when to be aggressive. Special teams is such a big part of every game so it’s important that we keep building on our details and mentality within the PK.”

Gionta starting to heat back up

Forward Adam Gionta had a tremendous month of October, scoring eight points across six games. But from Nov. 3 to Jan. 13, he went cold, adding just five points over 19 games. As points become more critical, he is starting to warm up again. He has scored five points over the last two weekends and is one of three players on the team to have contributed a point in each of the last four games.

Tricky business

To prepare for the late-season playoff push, the Jr. Amerks acquired a pair of new pieces from a division foe this week. Two standouts from the struggling Danbury Hat Tricks — forward Jacob Roberson and defenseman Liam Varmecky — were acquired by the team to bolster depth. Rochester hopes these players will serve big roles, both on and off the ice. Roberson was first on his former team with 17 assists and had the second-most points with 24 this season. Along with being a skilled defenseman, Varmecky brings experience: He has over 100 NAHL games under his belt and served as the Danbury captain prior to the trade.

Looking for an offensive boost

For most of the season, defense has been a big issue for Philadelphia. They have allowed the eighth-most goals in the NAHL and are averaging 3.5 goals allowed. Defense has picked up over the last four games, allowing just nine goals, but the offense has scored a mere five. They have also been shut out twice in that stretch, thanks in part to the team’s three leading scorers — forwards Kris Samitis, Charles Panchisin and Jared Coccimiglio — combining for only eight goals since the start of January. For comparison, Rochester’s Luca Leighton has seven goals in 2024.

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