Holding onto sixth place in the AHL’s Western Conference, the Rochester Americans finish the regular season this weekend with a three-in-three stretch that includes a pair of home games on Friday and Saturday.
The Amerks are currently three points ahead of the ninth-place Rockford IceHogs; while they are currently in a playoff position, they have yet to clinch and it is mathematically still possible for the team to be eliminated from the postseason, so the three remaining games could prove crucial.
First up on Friday, the Amerks will play host to the Toronto Marlies, who are second overall in the Western Conference with 91 points. The Marlies clinched a playoff spot on April 12, but are looking to clinch the division by earning at least a point in Friday’s meeting.
Friday’s game will see the return of several players for Rochester, including the return of center Luke Adam, who had a recent stint with the Buffalo Sabres, and Phil Varone, who is expected to return from injury.
Rochester has struggled against Toronto this season, winning just one of nine meetings. The Amerks won at home on February 1, a 5-1 victory over the Marlies, and Friday’s upcoming game is important for a number of reasons. While the Marlies look to clinch the division and the Amerks hope to get closer to securing a playoff spot, the teams face each in what could be a potential playoff preview.
The Americans will follow up Friday’s meeting with the Marlies with a home-and-home stretch with the Hamilton Bulldogs to finish out the regular season. First up, Rochester will host Hamilton on Saturday evening before the teams meet in Hamilton on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs can play spoiler in the two games, as they have already been eliminated from playoff contention and are currently last in the AHL with 62 points and a 28-39-1-5 record this season.
Rochester’s “magic number” is two – so they simply need to secure a pair of points, one way or another, this weekend in order to claim a spot in the postseason. Do that, and regardless of what other teams do, the Americans are moving on.
The Americans can clinch on Friday even if they lose, if the following situations occurred:
– Rockford loses in regulation AND Chicago loses in regulation
– The Americans earn a point vs. Toronto (OTL/SOL), AND Rockford loses in any way AND Chicago loses in any way
Below the Americans are the Barons, who need three points to clinch, and the Admirals, who need five points to clinch. Not currently in a playoff spot but not yet eliminated from contention are the Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Wolves, who need seven and nine points, respectively, in order to have a shot at a spot.