Win And We’re In: Jr. Amerks Can Clinch Playoff Berth This Weekend In Philadelphia

Mar 7, 2024

Article Written By Aidan Charde
Recap vs. Danbury Hat Tricks on March 1 and 2

The Danbury Hat Tricks never stood a chance this weekend as the Rochester Jr. Americans cruised to a pair of shutout wins to extend their road win streak to 10 games.

In what was the most dominant series of the year for the Jr. Amerks — if not for any team in the NAHL — Rochester scored a combined 13 goals while holding Danbury to 43 shots across both nights and not allowing a single one in the net.

Game one started out with a bang as the Jr. Amerks converted two power play opportunities to take a 3–0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. The team would go on to score three more times in the rest of the game to take an easy 6–0 win.

All six goals were scored by different players in the well-balanced game: Luca Leighton, Massimo Gentile, Matteo Disipio, Jayden Dyke, Thomas Rockey and Conor Humphrey all found the back of the net. Meanwhile, goalie Danick Leroux earned his third shutout with a 23-save effort.

Somehow, the Jr. Amerks became even more commanding in the second game, more than doubling Danbury’s shot attempts and scoring seven goals this time. Gentile was the star of the show in the game, scoring twice in the first period en route to his first career hat trick and adding an assist on a goal from Disipio.

The Jr. Amerks capitalized on their ice-cold opponent in the series that saw the first back-to-back shutouts in team history. It is only the seventh time this season that a team has held its opponent scoreless through both games of a series.

Recap vs Johnstown Tomahawks on March 6

The Jr. Amerks also traveled to Pennsylvania for a midweek matchup with the fourth-place Johnstown Tomahawks, where they knew a Rochester win would strengthen their hold on third place.

But for the fourth straight game, the Jr. Amerks did not just win — they blew out their opponent to the tune of 6–0. Defenseman Tyler Procious set the tone early with an unassisted strike 30 seconds into the contest and the team never looked back.

Massimo Gentile added his 27th goal of the season and seventh in five games to increase the lead in the first period before a pair of goals in the second period knocked Johnstown’s starting goalie out of the game. The Jr. Amerks quickly made it past his replacement two more times before the end of the period to take a 6–0 lead into the third.

The final frame was understandably quiet and Rochester only managed four shots on goal as they got comfortable with the big lead. The score held and the Jr. Amerks cruised to their third shutout win in a row.

Preview: March 8 and 9 vs. Philadelphia Rebels

WHEN: March 8 at 7:30 p.m. | March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Hollydell Ice Arena | Sewell, NJ




Despite being far apart in the standings, the Philadelphia Rebels and Rochester Jr. Americans have had several close matchups this season. Four of the six games they have played against each other were decided by one goal, including one shootout. Regardless, Rochester has edged out the Rebels, holding a record of 4–1–1.

East Division playoff update

The Maryland Black Bears (71 pts) clinched the division’s first playoff berth, but did it in a weekend where they were swept, opening up the door for the Maine Nordiques (69 pts) to possibly jump ahead. The Rochester Jr. Americans (67 pts) held strong in third, gaining two points on Maine and solidifying their grasp on third. The Johnstown Tomahawks (59 pts) split their series over the weekend and fell to Rochester on Wednesday night while the New Jersey Titans (57 pts) put some distance ahead of sixth place after a massive upset that saw them sweep Maryland. In the final playoff spot, the Northeast Generals (50 pts) dropped both games against the Nordiques, but they remain in control of their own destiny as the Philadelphia Rebels (42 pts) and New Hampshire Mountain Kings (41 pts) would need to make up a lot of ground. The Danbury Hat Tricks (34 pts) sit in last place in the division.

Shutouts galore

The Jr. Amerks’ series shutout of the Danbury Hat Tricks was the sixth time a team held its opponent scoreless through both games in a weekend this season, but it was by far the most dominant. In each of the other five instances, no team scored more than 10 goals across both games while the Jr. Amerks tallied 13. With the Wednesday night win, the Jr. Amerks also became the first team this season to earn three consecutive shutouts.

Where’s the weakness?

The run the Jr. Amerks are on may very well be the best stretch of hockey by any team in the NAHL this year. Over the past four games, they are outscoring opponents 26–2, an average of 6.5 goals per game, and have allowed one goal in the last 10 periods. Few teams have managed to put together enough offense to total even 24 goals across four games — the Wisconsin Windigo, Shreveport Mudbugs and Anchorage Wolverines are the only three to do it. Wisconsin and Anchorage both surrendered double digits during that streak, though, and while Shreveport held its opponent to five goals, the Jr. Amerks’ goal differential of 24 trumps Shreveport’s mark of 19.

Procious explodes back onto the scene

After more than a month off, defenseman Tyler Procious has come back with a vengeance for the Jr. Amerks, tallying six assists and a goal in the last four games. With Procious back in the lineup, the threat of assists from the defensive line increases exponentially, adding a new layer for opposing teams to have to plan for. Even with 16 games missed, Procious is tied for second in the league for assists by a defenseman with 34.

Motivated opponent

As mentioned, the Philadelphia Rebels have been able to keep the games with Rochester close this season, but have only come out on top twice. That could be a motivating factor for a team who has won five of their last six and is still very much alive in the playoff race. The key factor will be defense: The Rebels are not the worst defensive team in the league, but they have not won a regulation game without scoring four or more goals this season.

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