The Rochester Americans finished the regular season with the third best record in the AHL. It did not prevent them from getting swept in three games by the Toronto Marlies.
On Friday and Saturday, the Amerks cleaned out their lockers and held exit interviews at Blue Cross Arena. The pain of the season’s sudden ending still tough to swallow.
“Everybody is kind of in shock. Nobody was expecting this,” said defenseman Nathan Paetsch. “We weren’t anticipating to be done this early, the last couple days I’ve been stunned to be honest with you. It’s a tough one. 16 years and this is definitely one of the hardest I’ve ever had to go through. “
Compounding how disappointed the Amerks feel is the belief that this team was as close as any Amerks squad seen in the 585 in years.
“We were very close and that’s the hard part. They worked their butts off, they did everything for the community, they did everything that we asked and that’s the disappointing part,” said head coach Chris Taylor. “How much they cared. Genuinely. No one had their head up after the game. No one. It hurt. It hurts really bad.”
The players credit the tight locker room to strong leadership from captain Kevin Porter and the other veterans on the squad.
“Ports is one of the best, if not one of the better captains in the league at getting a room together and helping guys grow and being good to rookies,” said goalie Scott Wedgewood. “It wasn’t an egotitical room is one way to put it.”
An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Porter says he would honored to return to the Amerks for the 2019-20 season. Wearing the captain’s ‘C’ is a point of pride for the 33-year old.
“Be close with your teammates, you’re with them 8-9 months of the year,” said Porter. “That is something you need in order to have a good team.”
Porter says he plans on meeting up with a few of his teammates over the summer near his home in Michigan to not only work out, but hang out.
“He’s been around for so long, he’s a guy that everyone respects,” said defenseman Zach Redmond. “Just a good character guy too. Gets along with everybody and everyone looks up to him. He’s huge to have around.”