The Rochester Americans kicked off their 60th anniversary season in style, winning both of their games last weekend.
On opening night, Matt Ellis recorded a hat trick as the Amerks defeated the Lake Erie Monsters 6-3. Jerome Leduc, Jason Akeson and Daniel Catenacci ( also scored Friday at Blue Cross Arena while Jean Dupuy picked up three assists. Evan Rodrigues and Nicholas Baptiste recorded assists for their first professional points as well.
“It’s special. Opening night, Year 14. I don’t think I’ve had a hat trick since 2007,” Ellis said with a grin after the game. “You never know how many more opening nights you’re going to get and one thing I’ve learned, you try to make the most of each moment and do what you can. Live in the moment and enjoy it.”
Nathan Lieuwen stopped 35 shots before earning the call to serve as Chad Johnson’s backup in Buffalo.
Linus Ullmark stole the show in Rochester on Saturday, making 38 saves in a 2-1 win over Utica. Jerry D’Amigo and Jack Nevins scored 14 seconds apart in the second period to put the Amerks ahead and they never looked back.
The game marked Ullmark’s first appearance in North America and his first contest since having surgery on both of his hips in April. He’d been back at practice for a few weeks and was activated from injured reserve earlier that day.
“You could see he was enjoying himself in practice and getting stronger, more confident,” Amerks coach Randy Cunneyworth said. “It obviously just showed in his play. That’s huge.”
The 6-foot-4, 212-pound netminder was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Draft (163rd overall) and spent the past two seasons playing for Modo of the SHL in Sweden.
“It’s always a wonderful feeling to win and especially now, my first home game, first game in – what is it? – eight months or so,” Ullmark said. “It feels great.”
1. Matt Ellis 4 points (3+1)
2. Jean Dupuy 4 points (0+4)
3. Jerome Leduc 2 points (1+1)
Linus Ullmark 1-0-0-0, 1.00 GAA, 38 saves, .974 save %
Nathan Lieuwen 1-0-0-0, 3.00 GAA, 35 saves, .921 save %
The Amerks sit at 2-0-0-0 – their first two-win start to begin a season since 2006-07 – heading into this weekend’s action.
Rochester has back-to-back games against the St. John’s IceCaps on Friday and Saturday. Each game is set to begin at 6 p.m. and can be heard live on Fox Sports 1280 in Rochester.
Be sure to check out Amerks.com for complete coverage all season long.