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The Rochester Report
Like Sabres, Amerks continue impressive start
ROCHESTER (LGS) — We've all heard the stories about the little brother following his older brother around, trying to do the exact same thing that the big guy does, right? Well, apparently this form of "hero worship" carries over into the ranks of professional hockey.

While the parent club, and in this case the older brother, Buffalo Sabres roared off 10 straight wins to start their NHL season, the Rochester Americans, the younger brother, won their first seven in the AHL. As with the Sabres, Rochester won games in a variety of fashions.

Opening night saw the Amerks blow out Albany 6-0. Craig Anderson pitched just the fourth opening-night shutout in Americans history, and both Daniel Paille (0+3) and Drew Stafford (2+1) added three points. The debut weekend also included a 6-3 win over the Manitoba Moose.

The two impressive season-opening wins kickstarted the team as it won its next five contests. Rochester swept a home-and-home series against the Binghamton Senators, winning 2-1 in Rochester and 3-2 the next night in Binghamton. From there the Amerks came back home and beat the Peoria Rivermen 3-1, then went on a three-game road trip that took them to Toronto (3-1 win), Grand Rapids (4-3 win) and Syracuse, where they finally had their first loss, 5-0 at the hands of the Crunch. Rochester went right back to its winning ways in its ninth game against Syracuse, 2-1.

For their first games in November, the Amerks traveled to New England, looking to claim a pair of wins. On Friday night Rochester took game one against the Springfield Falcons. In the first period it appeared as if Rochester was going to win in a laugher, launching an all-out attack that saw the team jump to an early 3-0 lead. Springfield fought back to stay in the game, clawing its way to a 4-4 tie with 10 minutes to go in regulation. Janis Sprukts dashed any hopes that Springfield had about completing the comeback when he scored the game-winning goal for the Amerks with 1:19 left in regulation.

Rochester made its way to Manchester, New Hampshire to take on the L.A. Kings top farm team, the Monarchs, on Saturday night. To say that the Americans had their chances to blow this puppy out is an understatement. Playing against a team that had killed only 70% of its penalties, Rochester was awarded eight power plays in the first two periods, yet was barely able to put any pressure on Manchester goalie Jason LaBarbera.

Rochester was not able to score until the final minute of the second, taking a 2-0 lead when David Booth and Stefan Meyer netted goals. Manchester's Matt Moulson cut the lead to one with just over 12 minutes remaining in the third, but Adam Dennis didn't let another shot past him to guarantee the 2-1 win as the Amerks were able to avoid a repeat of the night before, when they twice lost two-goal leads.

The road trip provided a bit of a homecoming for Rochester's Michael Ryan. The Massachusetts native played in front of family and friends for the first time as a pro. Ryan did not disappoint as he netted two goals and assisted on Sprukts' game-winner on Friday. He was scoreless in Saturday's game but did make it to the scoresheet when he was called for tripping in the first period. His parents split time between the two games, as his brother Billy is a junior winger for the University of Maine and had two contests that weekend as well.

As the Amerks were leaving the rink on Saturday night, Stafford and Paille were told they were going to New York to meet up with their new Sabre teammates. Both played on Sunday night against the Rangers. Stafford assisted on Daniel Briere's game-winning goal, and the two were then told on the plane ride back to Buffalo they would be sent back to Rochester. According to a published report in Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle, the two could be recalled in time for Friday's game at home against Florida.

Rochester returns home for a six-game homestand starting on Friday, taking on Binghamton, Chicago, Manitoba, Springfield, Milwaukee and Iowa.

Wrist Shots

► Defenseman Brandon Smith was honored by the AHL as its CCM/AHL Milestone of the Month winner for October. Smith played in his 700th American Hockey League game on October 8 against Manitoba. Smith made a remarkable night even more special by pitching in a goal and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Moose…

► Ryan (5+4), Stafford (5+4), Clarke MacArthur (4+5) and Sprukts (3+6) lead the team with nine points apiece…

► Rochester has been solid between the pipes in the early going, as keepers Jean-Marc Pelletier, Adam Dennis and Craig Anderson have shared time with GAAs of 2.40, 2.75 and 1.23 respectively…

► Anderson has missed time due to a knee injury. His timetable to return has not been determined…

► By winning both games of the recent road trip, Rochester improves its road record to 5-1, its only loss coming to Syracuse.

By Stephen Sickles, LGS Columnist
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