Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Based upon historical statistics, Buffalo is the third snowiest city in New York State behind Syracuse and Rochester. Syracuse, according to currentresults.com, averages 123.8 inches of snow per year, much more than Rochester with 99.5 and Buffalo's 94.7 inches. All three cities are adversely affected by lake-effect snow as evidenced by the "Wall of Snow" that dumped on the snowbelt areas south of Buffalo.
Having gone through the Blizzard of '77 and climbing up 6' mounds of snow just to (hopefully) get to the front door to deliver the Tonawanda News, I can't imagine trucking across a blanket of snow that is 5 or 6 feet high.
Godspeed to everyone caught in this mess.
Because of Mother Nature's madness, the Rochester Americans are the only game in town this weekend. The Buffalo Sabres game vs. the NY Rangers tonight was postponed and the team will be in Washington tomorrow night. The Buffalo Bills, who's Ralph Wilson Stadium is buried beneath five feet of snow, will head to Detroit for a Monday night "home" game vs. the NY Jets. How ironic that the Bills will still be playing a "home" game away from The Ralph after postponing the Toronto Series which saw them play "home" games at Rogers Center in Toronto over the course of the last six seasons. They were 1-5, by the way.
Although the Rochester area remained relatively unscathed by the events less than an hour to the WSW, their hockey club is trying to dig themselves out of a terrible rut this month. The Amerks have managed only one win and three points in their eight November games.
A 1-6-1 record should be expected when you start out the month on a five game losing streak, and what's worse, they lost four at home before winning on the last game of their five-game homestand. It was a complete team (non) effort that saw the Amerks mimic what their parent club had been doing. During the losing streak they managed only eight goals while allowing 19.
Rochester began to claw their way back with a 6-1 drubbing of the Toronto Marlies last Friday. Veterans Luke Adam and Matt "Friggen" Ellis had two goals apiece while another veteran, Phil Varone contributed three assists (two, primary.) Andrey Makarov stopped 23 of 24 shots in the win. But they followed that up with a 7-4 loss vs. a very strong Chicago Wolves (STL) team and lost in overtime to the Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL.)
Tonight they play the league-leading Utica Comets (VAN) who are 12-2-2-0 overall and have garnered 26 of a possible 32 points on the year. Utica is hot with points in 11 of their 12 previous games and have a 6-1-1-0 road record.
The Comets are lead by their 24 yr. old goalie, Jacob Markstrom. His 1.24 goals against average and .955 save percentage are both second in the AHL while he leads the league with four shutouts.
Markstrom was a part of the Roberto Luongo to Florida trade. He was originally drafted by the Panthers with 31st pick in the 2008 draft and played his first year of professional hockey for the Rochester Americans while the Sabres had their AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine.
Earlier this month vs. Utica, an Amerks comeback fell just short when they lost to the Comets 3-2. Zac Dalpe brought Rochester to within one with just over three minutes to play, but the Amerks couldn't get the equalizer past Markstrom. Mikhail Grigorenko had the only other Rochester goal, his only tally of the month.
If the Amerks want to get things rolling they'll need to continue scoring as the defense is still adjusting to the loss of veteran Drew Bagnall. Grigorenko in particular needs to step it up. He has one goal and two assists this month. His linemate Joel Armia also needs to get things going as he only has one goal to go along with four assists in the eight November games.
The team in general will need to provide some secondary scoring like they have the last three games (14g.) Other than Adam (6g, 4a) Varone, (1g, 9a,) and Johan Larsson (2g, 5a) none are making consistent contributions up front. After beginning the month slow, defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (2g, 3a) has begun heating up, but other than him no one on the back-end has been contributing this month. Varone, Adam and Larsson are 1-2-3 in points for Rochester while Ruhwedel is tied for fourth with Armia.
Makarov will be manning the crease for the Amerks until Nathan Lieuwen returns from a call-up to Buffalo. Lieuwen got the nod when Sabres netminder Michal Neuvirth was felled by a lower-body injury in Tuesday's win vs. San Jose'.
At one point this month Makarov was sporting a 2.47 gaa with a .928 sv%, but his numbers have taken a nose-dive during the Amerks slump. He enters tonight's game with a 2.92 gaa and only a .907 sv%.
One thing about Makarov, though, when he's hot, he's hot. Last year when turmoil enveloped the crease in Buffalo and the Sabres were dressing a record number of goalies (9,) Makarov was busy leading Rochester to the playoffs as the clear-cut #1. He's at that point right now, at least for a couple of games, while Lieuwen is with Buffalo.
Makarov's backup will be Sam Marrota who was just signed to a pro try-out contract. Marrota was graduate of D-1 Merrimack College and was in Elmira (like Makarov last season,) Buffalo's ECHL affiliate, before landing in Rochester. In four games with the Jackals he was 2-0-1-1 with a 2.45 gaa and a .917 sv. %.