Resiliency: Facing Adversity, The Jr. Amerks Must Dig Deep For Best Effort Versus Maine

Mar 28, 2024

Article Written By Aidan Charde
Recap vs. Maryland Black Bears on March 22 and 23

The Rochester Jr. Americans lost twice in heartbreaking fashion to the Maryland Black Bears last weekend, but snagged a crucial point for playoff seeding.

If anything can be said about the weekend, it is that the Jr. Amerks were in it until the bitter end against the best team in the division. One goal was the difference in both games and Rochester had their turn both leading and trailing in each of the contests.

Game one started off with an early Maryland goal before Rochester forward Jayden Dyke hit his 11th goal of the season to tie it up at the end of the frame. Forward Gabe Randel would give the Jr. Amerks the lead early into the second, but Maryland ripped off three unanswered goals to take a 4–2 lead into the third period.

Forward Matteo Disipio brought the game closer with his 27th goal of the season, but a comeback was not to be as the Black Bears ended with the 4–3 win. Penalties were a problem in the game, as three of Maryland’s four goals came on the power play while the Jr. Amerks were unable to score on four opportunities.

That narrative was switched in game two, though, after defenseman Alex Zakrzewski got the scoring started with a power play goal halfway through the first period. Unfortunately, the lead was short lived, as just three minutes later the Black Bears scored the tying goal and waited just over one minute to score again, taking 2–1 lead.

This time, it was Rochester’s turn to fire off three straight goals, all coming in just over four minutes as the second period drew to a close. Disipio and forward Luca Leighton inched closer to the 30-goal mark with their 28th and 27th, respectively, while forward Michael Sandruck added his eighth.

Although Maryland scored early in the third, Rochester was able to hold onto the lead until there were five minutes left when the Black Bears tied it. Three minutes later, they took the lead and it looked like the game was over — until forward Thomas Rockey came through in the clutch once again to tie the game with under a minute to play.

Although Maryland earned the game-winner early in overtime, the Jr. Amerks did enough to salvage one point from the weekend to stay tied for third place.


Preview: March 29 and 30 vs. Maine Nordiques

WHEN: March 29 at 7 p.m. | March 30 at 5 p.m.

WHERE: Rochester Ice Center | Fairport, NY

PROMOTIONS: March 29 – $1 Hot Dogs | March 30 – Billet/Fan Appreciation





The Rochester Jr. Americans and Maine Nordiques have made for some exciting matchups this year with games often leading to high-scoring affairs. Rochester holds the edge 3–2–1, but interestingly, both teams have seemed to play much better on the road. Two of Maine’s wins came in the only series so far in Rochester. Conversely, Rochester has won three of the four games in Lewiston, including a 7–2 rout at the end of February that kick-started the Jr. Amerks’ best stretch of games.


East Division playoff update

It is the most important weekend of the year for Rochester after last weekend’s results tightened the race for third and fourth place. Maryland (83 pts) officially clinched a first-round bye, but are still a few points away from cementing the top seed. Maine (78 pts) earned all four points up for grabs in their series, and while they have not officially clinched the first-round bye, it may happen this weekend. The Johnstown Tomahawks (71 pts), who have been right behind the Jr. Amerks (71 pts) all season, finally closed the gap to third, but Rochester’s overtime loss gave them the one point needed to keep the spot a tie. A pair of wins this weekend for either team would be enough to clinch the rights to host round one, as the fifth-place New Jersey Titans (65 pts), who did not play last weekend, would not be able to surpass either team. The Northeast Generals (52 pts) and Philadelphia Rebels (48 pts) are in a tight battle for the sixth and final spot.


Disipio and Gentile make NAHL history

For the first time since the 2018–19 season, a pair of teammates have each reached the 70-point milestone. Disipio, who has 75 points, earned his 70th point the weekend before, but Gentile notched a goal and an assist to put him at 71 points after the weekend’s series.


Rockey’s clutch gene

He may not be the team’s leading scorer, but forward Thomas Rockey has come through when it matters most several times this season. Of his 15 goals, eight have been either the game-tying or game-winning goals, including two games where he was responsible for both the equalizer and winner. In game two, Rockey was the one who found the back of the net with 31 seconds left to steal one point for the Jr. Amerks — a point that may prove to be important as the season draws to a close.


Defense stumbles after historic run

Following a seven game stretch where Rochester allowed seven goals and had four shutouts, the Jr. Amerks defense has cooled off quite a bit. In the six games since, the team has allowed 28 goals, losing all but one game, and conceding five or more goals three times. Heading into the final few weekends, the defense needs more than ever to reset and prepare for the tough competition ahead.


Time to watch the scoreboard

Four points for Rochester this weekend would be ideal, but fans should also keep their eyes on a key matchup in the division this weekend, as it could make a big difference ahead of the final week of action. The Johnstown Tomahawks and New Jersey Titans meet in a series where both teams are desperate for extra points: The Tomahawks are neck-and-neck with Rochester for third place while the Titans are still fighting to be able to host the first round of the playoffs.

Maine comes in hot, but off weak opponent

After taking a 3–0 lead into the third period against the Danbury Hat Tricks on March 15, the Maine Nordiques went on to allow four goals on six shots to lose the game in the final period. Instead of letting it demoralize the team, though, Maine cruises through the next three games — all against Danbury — by a combined 14–5. The Nordiques certainly come into this weekend with some momentum, but also showed signs of struggle against the East Division’s bottom team.




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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