Article by Aidan Charde
Recap vs. Philadelphia Rebels on Jan. 12 and 13
A pair of strong games earned the Rochester Jr. Americans three points in a tight playoff race last weekend, moving up into fifth place in the East Division.
Game one showed the resiliency of the team — the Rebels took a 2–0 lead late into the second period, but the Jr. Amerks fought back and tied it up halfway through the third period on a power play goal from defenseman Tyler Procious. Unfortunately, despite surrendering just one shot in overtime, the Jr. Amerks could not find the back of the net and fell in a shootout.
In the second game, the lineup was shifted a little bit with Procious out with an illness and goalie Florian Wade resting for the first time in seven games. New signing Danick Leroux took Wade’s place between the pipes and stopped every shot he faced for the second shutout in Jr. Amerks history. Some credit should go to the defense as well, who managed to hold the Rebels to just 21 shots despite missing the team’s top defender.
But as well as the defense played, forward Luca Leighton was the one who stole the show, scoring what would be the game-winner on a shorthanded goal 18 seconds into the second period. A broken play allowed forward Massimo Gentile to dish a beautiful pass to Leighton, who won the battle with the opposing goalie to take the 1–0 advantage. Forward Clay O’Donnell also sunk a shot from deep while forward Matteo Disipio tact on an empty-netter.
Preview: Jan. 19 and 20 vs. New Hampshire Mountain Kings
WHEN: Jan. 19 at 7:45 p.m. | Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Rochester Ice Center | Fairport, NY
The Jr. Amerks welcome back the Mountain Kings for the second time in three weeks after earning a sweep to start 2024. Prior to the second half of the season, the Mountain Kings were firmly in the tight race for third place in the division, but a 10-game losing streak has pushed them down to seventh place in the East.
Playoff race tightens
The first month and a half of 2024 might be the most crucial time for the Jr. Amerks if they want to make the postseason, and so far, it has gone exactly as hoped. Rochester has nabbed seven of eight points in the first two weekends and gets to face the struggling Mountain Kings again this weekend. Following this weekend, the Jr. Amerks travel to the Northeast Generals, who sit one point ahead of them in the standings, before facing off with the Rebels and Mountain Kings again. A good performance in those four weekends could put the team as high as third place.
Penalty kill problems put on hold
Prior to this weekend, the Jr. Amerks were struggling with the penalty kill. While their percentage is still low — .778, 31st of 32 — the team did manage to prevent a Rebels goal on 10 of 11 power play opportunities and the game-winner in the second game came shorthanded.
Leighton’s star shines bright
Forward Luca Leighton scored two goals and two assists on the weekend en route to the East Division’s first Star of the Week. He has 16 points since the beginning of December, which includes three three-point performances and one hat trick.
Disipio keeps his streak alive — barely
Forward Matteo Disipio extended his points streak to five straight games, his longest stretch of the season, at the last possible second. He was uncharacteristically quiet all game, but put the game-sealing goal in an empty net with one minute left Saturday night for his only point of the game. During the five-game stretch, he has scored 12 points.
Mountain Kings far from the summit
Although they were in the playoff hunt not too long ago, the Mountain Kings have fallen off a cliff during their 10-game skid. 10 games ago, they had a goal differential of exactly 0 — 77 goals scored, 77 goals allowed. But since the losing streak started, they have been outscored 42–11, have failed to score a single goal in three games and have been held to one or fewer in seven.
Special Night Planned for First Responders Appreciation
The Jr. Amerks are proud to host their first ever First Responders Appreciation Night on Saturday. All law enforcement, fire, EMS and rescue are granted free admission to the games. Additionally, there will be a special puck drop planned to honor the life of a Fairport first responder. This will also be the last home game until Feb. 16 and 17.
Stay connected during the season by following the Jr. Amerks @JrAmerksNAHL on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online at rochesterjramerks.com.
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 rochesterjramerks.com.