Apr 10, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Matt Hackett (31) gives up a goal to New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (not pictured) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. The New York Rangers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

What Matt Hackett's Injury Means For The Rochester Americans

The goaltending situation for the Rochester Americans just got a little more interesting.

Rochester Americans head coach Chadd Cassidy confirmed on Tuesday that goaltender Matthew Hackett will miss training camp and the beginning of the season. Cassidy said that Hackett is aiming to return to action in December or January.

This is big news for the Rochester Americans organization.

Hackett started off last season as one of Rochester’s top goaltenders, though everything changed when injuries hit and eventually, Nathan Lieuwen gave Hackett a run for his money at the starting position.

Hackett played 33 games with the Rochester Americans overall last season, going 13-17-2 in that stretch. he had a .898 save percentage and a 3.07 GAA. He also appeared in eight games with the Buffalo Sabres, going 1-6-1 in that stretch with a .908 save percentage and 3.10 GAA.

All that came crashing down when Hackett was taken off on a stretch during a Sabres game against the Boston Bruins in April. He underwent knee surgery in May. Hackett was one of five goaltenders who appeared in at least one game for Rochester.

He was expected to return to the Amerks in October and be one of the top goaltenders in the organization, presumably with Lieuwen and Makarov fighting for the number two spot.

Now, they’ll get to duke it out for the starting job instead.

Both Makarov and Lieuwen spent time with the Rochester Americans last season, both as rookies.

Lieuwen played 32 games, over 1795 minutes. He had two shutouts, a .922 save percentage and a 2.34 GAA. Overall, he went 17-11-2 on the season.

Makarov, after starting the year off in the ECHL, ended up playing in 10 games with the Amerks. He went 7-3-0 in that stretch and had a .927 save percentage and 2.20 GAA.

Both Lieuwen and Makarov also dressed for the Buffalo Sabres at some point last season. Lieuwen had a .906 save percentage and 2.98 GAA in seven NHL games; Makarov never actually played a game for the Sabres, but dressed as a backup due to the numerous injuries the team faced at the end of the season.

With Hackett out until at least December or January – effectively missing half of the AHL season – this means there’s a big opening for that top goaltending spot. Will it be Lieuwen? Will it be Makarov? Or will they perhaps evenly split things up, as Lieuwen and Hackett did last season?

It’s too early to tell, of course. They’ll both have to work hard and compete for the spot at training camp when it kicks off later this summer; but even if one gets it to start, things can always change in the midst of the season.

The injury to Hackett also opens up a potential call-up spot in case of injury to Jhonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth on the NHL level. Without Hackett to call upon, it’d have to be either Lieuwen or Makarov getting the nod to come to Buffalo.

The AHL schedule will be released later this summer.

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Tags: AHL Andrey Makarov Buffalo Sabres Matt Hackett Nathan Lieuwen Rochester Americans

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