The Rochester Americans have been underestimated in both the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs against Syracuse and in the AHL North Division Final against Toronto. Since falling behind 2-0 to the Crunch, the Amerks have won six straight, coming back to win the best-of-five series in five games and following that up with a three-game sweep of the Marlies.
And then there were four. pic.twitter.com/BMiMnWr2Ea
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) May 23, 2023
Rochester now finds themselves in the all-too-familiar position of being an underdog as they open the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Final against the Hershey Bears on Tuesday.
Hershey finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 44-19-9 record (one point behind Providence), defeating Charlotte in four games and sweeping the Hartford Wolf Pack to reach the AHL’s Final Four, with a club primarily comprised of AHL veterans sprinkled with young prospects from the parent club Washington Capitals (Hendrix Lapierre, Connor McMichael).
“They are the best team in the Eastern Conference. We had two fabulous games that we lost 2-1 in a great game in their building, and then we came back and beat them coming from behind in overtime in our building.” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said last week. “They’ve got a really good team. They’re older. They’re deep. (They have a) really good coach, Todd Nelson’s won in this league (for) a long time, so we know we’ll have our hands full.”
Amerks High Powered Offense
Rochester has averaged six goals per game over the postseason winning streak, with center Mason Jobst leading the club with 11 points, and veterans Michael Mersch, Brett Murray, Sean Malone, and blueliner Lawrence Pilut providing depth offense. The key to the Americans advancing past the Bears may be getting continued contributions from rookies Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen. Kulich has scored a goal in each of the six straight victories, while Rosen is averaging a point per game in the playoffs.
Sabres top prospect Matthew Savoie joined the Americans on Monday and may step into the Rochester lineup at some point during the best-of-seven series.
“He’s had a busy last couple of months,” Appert said. “I think right now we want to get him acclimated to a new organization and to our culture, get him comfortable with the guys, get him comfortable with our team play. We anticipate him being available for us at some point in this series.”
A walk down memory lane. pic.twitter.com/zLGbc2gidd
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) May 22, 2023