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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

(Photo by Micheline Veluvolu)


Friday, January 9: AMERKS 5 – MONSTERS 2
Rochester came out of the gates with three goals in the opening 6:40 on their way to a 5-2 win over the Lake Erie Monsters at The Blue Cross Arena. Dan Catenacci, Mark Pysyk and Jerry D’Amigo all finished with a goal and an assist to pace the Amerks. Zac Dalpe and William Carrier also added scores for Rochester and goaltender Andrey Makarov denied 21 shots for his 11th win of the year. Catenacci, who totaled just three points (3+0) over his first 26 games this season, now has five points over his past six outings.

Saturday, January 10: BARONS 2 – AMERKS 0
David Musil’s goal at the 11:57 mark of the second period proved to be the game-winner as Rochester was defeated by the first-place Oklahoma City Barons at The Blue Cross Arena. Goaltender Matt Hackett, making his first start in net since suffering an injury last April while playing for the Buffalo Sabres, was solid in his season debut with 26 saves on 28 shots.

Prior to the game, the Amerks inducted longtime forward and current assistant coach Chris Taylor as the 56th member of the franchise’s prestigious Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, January 14: AMERKS 6 – STARS 5
Johan Larsson
scored the game-winning goal with just 1:33 remaining in the third period to cap a 6-5, come-from-behind victory over the defending Calder Cup champion Texas Stars at Cedar Park Center. Trailing 4-1 in the second period, Rochester scored four straight goals to take a 5-4 lead. Texas tied the game in the third period, but Larsson’s late goal sealed the victory for the Amerks.

Tim Schaller (2+1), Mikhail Grigorenko (1+2), Jerry D’Amigo (0+2), Jake McCabe (0+2) and Dan Catenacci (0+2) each finished with multi-point games for the Amerks while Andrey Makarov stopped 20 of 25 shots to earn the win in goal. Brayden Irwin, Jerome Leduc and Larsson each notched a goal in the win to round out the scoring for Rochester.


Goaltender Matt Hackett returned to the crease for the first time in nearly nine months Saturday night in the Amerks’ 2-0 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons.

Hackett, who suffered an injury last April while playing against the Boston Bruins during a call-up with the Buffalo Sabres, was solid in his season debut against Oklahoma City. The 24-year-old denied all but two of the 28 shots he faced.

“I was very nervous,” Hackett said following the game. “I was very excited to get back out there, and it was a lot of fun for me even though we got the loss.”

Oklahoma City wasted no time testing Hackett in his first game of 2014-15, sending 11 shots his way during the first period. Hackett stopped them all.

“I’m lying if I said I wasn’t shaking before the game,” Hackett said. “I haven’t played a game in about nine months, so just to get a feel for the puck right away was nice. I thought the boys battled hard, but we just couldn’t catch a break.”

According to Head Coach Chadd Cassidy, Hackett was clearly “anxious” before the game.

“It’s been a long time since he’s been in the net,” Cassidy said. “Like any player, you go on that long of a lay-off, especially due to injury, you have questions. You build up confidence through success, and you don’t get success until you prepare yourself for a game.

“His confidence should be real high after that game. He did a nice job.”

Amerks forward and leading scorer Phil Varone has enjoyed an impressive past couple of weeks on and off the ice. Varone was recalled by the Sabres on Jan. 4 and was one of Buffalo’s most effective offensive players in his first three appearances with the big club.

Varone led the Sabres in shots (5) in his season debut last Tuesday in a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, and recorded two goals two days later against the Carolina Hurricanes for the first multi-goal game of his NHL career.

In his first three games with Buffalo this season, Varone has scored two goals on eight shots and won 20 of 42 face-off attempts while averaging 14:03 of ice time.

After re-joining the Amerks for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma City, Varone was called back up to the Sabres on Monday morning and was joined by Zac Dalpe, who earned his first recall of the season.

Varone, the Amerks leading scorer through the first half of the season, was also named to the roster for the AHL All-Star Classic Jan. 25-26 in Utica, N.Y. Despite leading the Amerks in scoring for two of the past three years, this is the first All-Star honor for Varone, who will represent the Amerks on the Western Conference squad.

Wednesday’s win in Texas kicked off Rochester’s first long-distance road trip of the season. The Amerks will also travel through San Antonio and Oklahoma City for rematches with the Rampage and Barons after hosting both teams last week. – Justin Ritzel/

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