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by Anthony Laurendi / Buffalo Sabres
Kevin Porter (Photo: Michele Veluvolu)

The Rochester Americans were looking for a leader who could fill the role of captain as the organization embarked on its 57th season in the American Hockey League.

The captaincy, in an organization with such a rich history, is an elite club filled with talented alumni. The early days of the Amerks saw hockey legend Don Cherry captain the team, while Hockey Hall of Famer Al Arbour, who went on to win four Stanley Cups as coach of the New York Islanders, also wore the “C” for Rochester. Jody Gage, the Amerks all-time scoring leader, was also a team captain for a few seasons during his illustrious career, which earned him a spot in the AHL’s inaugural Hall of Fame class.

Now, the Amerks have placed the honor on a newcomer to the organization, center Kevin Porter.

“Being the captain of any team is a huge honor,” said Porter, “especially this team, which has a lot of great players and great history.”

Porter, who is a native of Detroit, was drafted in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004. He began playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines as a freshman in 2004-05, and his point total increased every season at Michigan, culminating in a memorable senior year.

Porter scored 33 goals and notched 30 assists for 63 points to lead the nation in scoring and guide the team to an appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four. He also added his name to two illustrious lists of athletes. First, he was named the University of Michigan’s Male Athlete of the Year, an award previously won by Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin (1985), current San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh (1987), former NBA star Glen Rice (1989), and Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard (1992) and Charles Woodson (1998).

He also won the prestigious Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey, edging out current Buffalo Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe for the award. Past winners of the Hobey Baker Award include former Amerks Ryan Miller (2001, Michigan State), Brian Holzinger (1995, Bowling Green) and Robb Stauber (1988, Minnesota).

Amerks Head Coach Ron Rolston noted that Porter, a newcomer to the organization, made an early impression on not only the coaching staff, but his teammates as well during training camp this year.

“He works hard and there’s a lot of experience from other organizations that he brings us,” said Rolston. “He was selected because of that experience and the fact he has already come in and got a lot of respect from his teammates.”

With that experience from other organizations, including the Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche, Porter has had the opportunity to learn from captains of other NHL teams.

“In my pro career, definitely Shane Doan and Adam Foote, those are two of the best leaders in the game,” Porter said. “I learned a lot from them, staying focused, getting the guys ready and being a leader both on and off the ice.”

Porter is serving as a team captain for the first time since his senior year at Michigan, and believes that experience will help him be the leader that this young and talented Amerks team will look up to throughout the season.

“It’s a pretty similar situation (to that season). We had a lot of freshmen and young kids, similar to the young players we have in this room,” he said. “That experience will help me get these guys ready to play night in and night out.”

With the 2012-13 season underway, it is now Porter’s turn now to lead his team and carry on the legacy as a member of the elite club of Amerks captains.

Kevin Porter (Photo: Michele Veluvolu)

Born: March 12, 1986, Detroit, Michigan
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 190
Shoots: Left
Last Amateur Club: University of Michigan (NCAA-CCHA)

How Acquired: Signed by Buffalo as a free agent, July 6, 2012.

CAREER: 2011-12: Ranked fourth among Colorado skaters with a shooting percentage of 12.5% • Averaged 9:10 of TOI per game and won 30.4% of his faceoffs • Recorded points in three straight games (12/27-12/31), matching a career-best scoring streak • Netted goals in back-to-back contests (12/27-12/29) • Served a four-game suspension from 12/8-12/15… 2010-11: Established NHL career-highs in games (74), goals (14), assists (11) and points (25) in his first full season with the Avalanche • Scored three game-winning goals, tied for second most on the team • Tallied a career-high two goals vs. DAL (11/6) • Scored goals in three consecutive games (11/15-11/19), the longest goal streak of his NHL career • Scored the overtime game-winner vs. SJS (11/17), his first career OT goal • Notched the winning goal in the shootout at DAL (11/20) • Attempted his first career penalty shot (unsuccessful) vs. VAN (1/18) • Appeared in his 100th NHL game at MIN (2/9)… 2009-10: Split the season between the Avalanche and Coyotes organizations • Was acquired from Phoenix along with Peter Mueller at the trade deadline (3/30) • Scored his first career shorthanded goal at PHX (3/27) • Collected 41 points (16+25) in 56 combined AHL games between the Monsters and San Antonio Rampage, setting career-highs in goals, assists, points and games played … 2010 Playoffs: Made his Stanley Cup playoff debut, appearing in four of Colorado’s six postseason games • Made NHL playoff debut in Game 1 of the WCQF at SJS (4/14) • Missed Games 3-4 with an upper body injury • Returned for Game 5 (4/22)… 2008-09: Led San Antonia skaters with a plus-7 rating • Made his NHL debut and collected his first NHL point (assist) vs. CBJ (10/11) • Also had an assist in his second career game at ANA (10/12) • Scored his first NHL goal vs. PIT (10/30)… 2007-08: Captured the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top collegiate player as a senior at the University of Michigan (CCHA) • Finished second in the nation (behind Nathan Gerbe) with 63 points (33+30) in 43 games • Led Michigan to the 2008 NCAA Frozen Four while serving as team captain • Named the CCHA Player of the Year • Also a member of the RBK West All-America First Team and the All-CCHA First Team • Selected as the University of Michigan’s Male Athlete of the Year • Set an NCAA Tournament record by scoring four goals in an East Regional Semifinal win over Niagara in Albany, NY (3/28) • Made his professional debut during the 2008 postseason with the San Antonio Rampage (AHL) • Appeared in all seven playoff games for San Antonio, recording four assists… 2006-07: Skated in 41 games for the University of Michigan, collecting 58 points (24+34) • Shared the team lead in goals and was second in both assists and points • Named to the All-CCHA Second Team • Named the CCHA Player of the Month for November… 2005-06: Increased his point total by 14 points during his sophomore season • Recorded 38 points (17+21) and 30 PIM in 39 games for Michigan… 2004-05: Registered 24 points (11+13) and a career-high 51 PIM in 39 games as a freshman at Michigan to finish second among team rookies in scoring… 2003-04: Played 55 games for the U.S. National Under-18 Team, recording 37 points (8+29)… 2002-03: Collected 20 points (9+11) in 19 games for the U.S. National Under-17 Team • Appeared in 53 games for the U.S. National Under-18 Team, recording 31 points (20+11)… International competition: Served as captain of Team USA at the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver, leading the Americans to a fourth-place finish • Recorded six points (2+4) in seven games and was named Team USA’s best forward by his teammates • Also represented the United States at the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota, registering five points (3+2) in seven contests • Scored in the bronze medal game against the Czech Republic • Earned a silver medal with Team USA at the 2004 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in Belarus • Recorded eight points (2+6) in six games to rank second on the team in scoring • Also competed for the United States at the 2003 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, collecting two assists in six games.

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