It may be a new year for the Amerks, but the bitter taste of last season still lingers. They finished with the league’s 3rd best record only to be swept in the 1st round of the playoffs by the Toronto Marlies.
With training camp opening on Monday, the Amerks are eager to start a new chapter in 2019.
“Obviously you still don’t forget it. It’s always in the back of your mind, but we have a new season,” said head coach Chris Taylor. “We are going to focus on getting ready and getting off to a good start. I know deep down the guys will always remember.”
The Amerks begin training camp with several familiar faces. 18 of the 31 players that opened camp on Monday played for the Amerks in some capacity last season, including veterans Kevin Porter, Zach Redmond, Andrew MacWilliam, and Nathan Paetsch.
“When there are expectations, you don’t get a lot of the same players back, and they brought a lot of us back,” said the defenseman Redmond. “For us, it’s extra motivation to tell them they did the right thing and thank them in a way.”
The Amerks open the season next Friday against I-90 rivals Syracuse. The roster is not quite finished as the Sabres continue to trim down from currently 36 players to 23 by opening night.
“I thought we’ve had a couple good regular seasons the last couple years,” said forward C.J. Smith. “Now we have to follow it up at the end of the year.”
Smith’s arrival at training camp this early is a bit of a surprise after finishing as the Amerks 2nd leading scorer with 58 points and 28 goals. Smith admits he’s disappointed the Sabres sent him to Rochester before the end of the NHL preseason.
“The only thing I can control is my attitude. There’s no reason to sulk on it,” said Smith. “Just got to keep working and try to get better every day.”