As the ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the AHL's Rochester Americans, the Jackals are tasked with developing prospects throughout the organization. The Road to the Show provides details on how those prospects are progressing.
Buffalo Sabres (NHL) – Buffalo won two of three games this week, snapping a six game winless streak in the process. On Wednesday night, the Sabres met the Nashville Predators at the First Niagara Center, and despite another good effort, Buffalo came out on the losing end of another close game, this one ending 3-2. The Preds broke a long scoring drought and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period. Buffalo carried the play for the rest of the game, receiving goals from Evander Kane and Jack Eichel, but the Sabres could not find a game-tying goal. It was Kane’s first goal since returning from injury, and Buffalo fans can only hope that it is a harbinger of things to come from the talented, young forward.
On Friday night, the Sabres snapped their losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Sabres received offensive contributions from players throughout their lineup as four different players scored goals. The veteran leadership of the Sabres paid dividends in this contest as Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, and David Legwand all tallied for Buffalo. The eventual game winner, however, was scored by the 2nd Overall Selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Eichel, who now is tied for the team lead with eight goals. Chad Johnson stopped 27 of 28 shots to pick up the much needed victory for the Sabres.
The following night gave the Sabres an opportunity to repay the Predators for the loss earlier in the week. The Sabres won in Nashville by the score of 4-1, snapping a streak of six straight losses to Western Conference opponents. 20-year-old Sam Reinhart was the offensive story for the Sabres, as he scored twice, his first career two-goal game. He also continued to have the knack for scoring important goals, as he netted his team leading third game-winning goal of the season. For the second consecutive night, Chad Johnson turned in a great performance, stopping 28 of 29 Nashville shots. He earned back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Johnson has done a solid job stepping in for the injured Robin Lehner. Johnson has appeared in 16 games, making 13 starts. He has a record of 6-7-1, but his 2.37 goals-against-average, and .913 save percentage show that he has given Buffalo a chance to win in the majority of games that he has appeared in. Buffalo’s good week has moved them back into seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 22 points, and a 10-12-2 record. They are five points out of the last playoff position, in the Eastern Conference.
Rochester Americans (AHL) – Rochester enjoyed an offensive explosion this week, as the Amerks scored 14 goals over the course of three straight victories. Rochester had not scored four goals in a game since Halloween, but they scored at least that many in all three games this week. It marks the second time this season that the Americans have won three in a row. On Wednesday night, the Amerks defeated their in-state rivals, the Syracuse Crunch, 4-3 in overtime. Chad Ruhwedel and Evan Rodrigues both scored their first goals of the season, and William Carrier added his third as Rochester jumped out to an early lead. The Crunch scored twice in the third to force overtime, but Jean Dupuy scored the game winner, his second goal of the season. Dupuy ranks fourth on the Americans with 10 points, and leads the team with a plus seven rating. Both stats are more impressive, considering that Dupuy is an undrafted, rookie free agent. Nathan Lieuwen made 30 saves to earn his fifth victory of the season.
Friday night brought the St. John’s Ice Caps south of the border, and again the tilt went past regulation. The Amerks won the game 4-3 in a shootout, a good response to a couple early season losses in Newfoundland. Nick Baptiste and Chad Ruhwedel scored to give the Americans a 2-0 lead, but again their opponent would respond. Colby Robak rescued Rochester from a tough loss, as he tied the game at 3-3 with only 18 seconds remaining in the third period. An overtime would provide no goals, and the game would go to a shootout, where Jason Akeson scored the only goal for either team to earn Rochester the victory. Andrey Makarov made 29 saves and three more in the shootout to earn his third win of the season.
The following evening found the Americans paying a visit to Binghamton, where Rochester defeated the Senators, 6-5, in one of the most exciting, and strangest games of the year for the Amerks. The contest was a tale of two halves. Rochester dominated the opening 34 minutes of the contest, jumping out to a seemingly insurmountable, 6-0 lead. Six different Amerks scored, as Evan Rodrigues, Jason Akeson, Phil Varone, Matt Ellis, William Carrier, and Jerry D’Amigo all found the back of the net. However, what looked to be an easy victory turned into anything but, as five different Senators scored to bring Binghamton within one goal with just under 10 minutes to play in the third period. Fortunately, Andrey Makarov would not allow a sixth Binghamton goal, as he earned his second straight victory for the Amerks.
Former Jackal, Justin Kea had his third fight of the season against Syracuse. He also played in the contest against the Senators. Kea has now played six games for Rochester, with zero points, and three fights. Matt Garbowsky played in his eighth game of the year against St. John’s. He continues to have one assist on the year. Former Jackal, Nick Tuzzolino, who appeared in 55 games for Elmira last season, with two goals, 21 assists, and 110 penalty minutes, played for the Senators on Saturday night. He has played in seven games for Binghamton this season, and has not yet recorded a point. Following a perfect week, Rochester is in sixth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.525, 21 points, and a 10-9-1 record. They are only percentage points out of the final playoff spot, currently held by Syracuse.