by Patrick Williams
As difficult as this season has been for the Rochester Americans, the Rochester-Buffalo pipeline continues to churn.
Head coach Randy Cunneyworth and the Amerks are probably victims of the success that they have enjoyed in recent seasons, as a slew of players from the 2004-05 Amerks roster are now with the Sabres, one of the NHL’s most pleasant success stories this season.
The Amerks, meanwhile, entered Saturday night’s home meeting with the Manitoba Moose immersed in a miserable
Six members of the
Despite being rocked by the Flyers for five goals on just 20 shots on Saturday, Ryan Miller has put together an excellent first full season in the NHL.
There is Jason Pominville, who has a robust 15 goals in just 39 games since heading west on the New York State Thruway earlier in the season.
Centerman Derek Roy burned
Thomas Vanek‘s 21 goals place him second on the
And big 24-year-old Paul Gaustad, a 6-foot-5 banger from
"It fits like a glove," Ruff said of the transition that his
"We really tried hard to incorporate what we want to do here. We’ve been trying to do that for a couple of years now. There’s a really cohesive unit there now where we have a lot of players who have played together and believe that this style is advantageous for everybody."
The Sabres and Amerks largely have utilized the same systems, allowing only for minor tweaks. "They helped us out quite a bit, Lindy, (
A young, hungry group that plays up-tempo hockey, the
"We came up through the system together," explained Gaustad, "and we put in our time in
Chatter over the years has hinted at a possible breakup of a Buffalo-Rochester marriage that dates back to 1979, but such talk seems ridiculous in spite of the Amerks’ troubles this season.
Ruff and Gaustad are in agreement on the value of the Sabres-Amerks pairing and the organizational strength that it breeds. The easy drive between the two cities allows
"They’ve done a tremendous job," Ruff said of the Cunneyworth, assistant coach Doug Houda and the rest of the crew in
Concurred Gaustad: "It helps being close. I think it’s a great example of what the NHL and AHL should be."
Patrick Williams covers the AHL for theahl.com and SLAM! Sports