Ruotsalainen, Kochetkov, Daccord named award winners for March

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Rochester Americans forward Arttu Ruotslainen, Chicago Wolves goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov and Charlotte Checkers goaltender Joey Daccord have been selected as the league’s award winners for March.

Ruotsalainen, the AHL Player of the Month, scored eight goals and added 10 assists for 18 points in 13 games for Rochester during March.

Ruotsalainen began the month with back-to-back two-goal efforts, on Mar. 2 vs. Syracuse and as part of a three-point night in a 3-2 overtime victory on Mar. 4 at Belleville. He tallied two assists on Mar. 9 vs. Laval, and then authored a seven-game scoring streak that began with an assist on the game-winning goal in a 3-2 decision at Utica on Mar. 12. Ruotsalainen notched a goal and an assist in the Amerks’ 6-5 overtime win vs. Cleveland on Mar. 19, and posted his fifth multi-point game of the month with a goal and two assists against Bridgeport on Mar. 27.

Ruotsalainen has registered 16 goals and 26 assists for 42 points in 44 games for Rochester this season, while adding two goals and two assists in 18 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres. A 24-year-old native of Oulu, Finland, Ruotsalainen signed as a free agent with Buffalo on May 8, 2019, and joined the organization last season after having played with Assat Pori and Ilves Tampere in Finland’s SM-liiga. Over two North American seasons, he has 21 goals and 34 assists in 57 games with the Amerks, along with seven goals and three assists in 35 contests with the Sabres.

Kochetkov, the AHL Rookie of the Month, went 7-0-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in eight starts for Chicago during March.

Kochetkov allowed only 14 goals on 223 shots last month, beginning with a 31-save effort in a 5-3 win over Texas on Mar. 2. He then allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last seven starts, and the only blemish on his record was a 2-1 shootout loss at Milwaukee on Mar. 12 in which he stopped 26 of 27 shots. Kochetkov made 27 saves in a 5-2 win over Milwaukee on Mar. 16, stopped 25 shots at Iowa on Mar. 27, and recorded 27 more saves as the Wolves finished the month with a 4-2 win at Cleveland on Mar. 29.

Since making his AHL debut on Feb. 19, Kochetkov is 8-0-1 in nine starts with the Wolves, posting a 1.88 GAA and a .934 save percentage. A second-round choice by Carolina in the 2019 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old Kochetkov joined Chicago after beginning the season with Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL. The native of Penza, Russia, earned a bronze medal representing his home country at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Daccord, the AHL Goaltender of the Month, went 6-1-0 during seven starts in March, stopping 239 of 250 shots to record a 1.55 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage for Charlotte.

After winning just once in February, Daccord began the month with a 33-save effort to backstop the Checkers to a 5-2 victory at Lehigh Valley on Mar. 5. He made 27 saves as Charlotte earned a 3-1 win at Texas on Mar. 8, then registered a career-high 44 stops in a 5-1 win over Springfield on Mar. 11. He totaled 76 saves on 79 shots in back-to-back shootout victories over Providence on Mar. 17 and Mar. 19, and was on the losing end of a 1-0 decision at Cleveland on Mar. 25 despite making 26 saves. Daccord finished his month by turning aside 33 shots in a 6-3 win at Cleveland on Mar. 27.

Daccord ranks second in the AHL with a .926 save percentage and sixth in the league with a 2.33 GAA, posting a 15-10-2 record in 28 appearances for Charlotte this season. He has also played four games in the NHL with the Seattle Kraken in 2021-22.

A third-year pro out of Arizona State University, Daccord has appeared in 54 career games in the AHL with Charlotte and Belleville, compiling a record of 30-18-4 with a 2.56 GAA, a .918 save percentage and one shutout. He was originally a seventh-round pick by Ottawa in the 2015 NHL Draft, and has made 13 career NHL appearances with the Senators and Kraken.