Quinn fought through frustration when pucks stopped going in for him

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen said he was ready to get back into the lineup and play had there been a game on Friday
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Rochester, N.Y. (WGR 550) – Now that the Rochester Americans have been eliminated from the Calder Cup Playoffs, the players get a chance to reflect on the season that was, and what comes next for them as they prepare for next year.

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Buffalo’s first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Jack Quinn, had a phenomenal regular season in Rochester, scoring 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 45 games. He had a goal and an assist in his two games with the Sabres.

Quinn found out this postseason that the playoffs are a whole different animal. The 20-year-old had no goals and two assists in 10 games.

“The best part is we were able to be winning in the playoffs. But at the same time, there was some frustration with the lack of production," said Quinn during his end-of-season press conference on Thursday. "I think my game went through some struggles over the last month, so I just had to keep moving forward and just make sure I was helping the team win games, even if it was putting points up.”

For the Amerks, they needed every point they could get as the regular season wore down. It was just like playing in the playoffs every single night.

As previously mentioned, Quinn had no goals scored in his 10 playoff games. In his last 18 games combined with the regular season, he only scored one goal. Quinn also scored just two goals in his last 23 combined games.

There’s no question that Quinn needs to add strength to his game this offseason. He is known as a player that takes things to heart, and is 100% committed to putting the work in to get better.

“Just keep improving and working on my game," Quinn said. "Pretty much at every level, I’ve gone through some struggles and been able to work on my game and get over them. It’s just another hurdle.”

Quinn says he’s going to be working on his skating, as well as other things this summer.

I’ve mentioned this a few times how the players and the team in Rochester mirrors what Sabres head coach Don Granato is trying to build in Buffalo. I could see that these players are very tight and enjoy being on the ice together.

“We had a great group, we had a ton of fun," Quinn said. "I think the playoff run we went on was pretty special, as there were a lot of great moments with that.”

Quinn was more like himself in the final two games against Laval. He rang a few posts and got himself into position for good scoring chances.

“I thought I really found it and was back to my expectations, even though it didn’t translate into the score sheet," he said. "I thought I was back to where I wanted to be.”

Many felt Quinn was playing injured, but he said he was healthy other than the normal bumps and bruises.

Mattias Samuelsson finished the season with the Sabres all the way up to the final game. However, when he got to Rochester, he couldn’t play or practice. The defenseman confirmed he had an ankle injury that couldn’t allow him to play any longer.

“I blocked a shot in Buffalo a couple of weeks before the year ended," Samuelsson said during his end-of-season press conference. "I just numbed it every day and battled through.

“It continued to get worse, and then I got sent down here and myself, management, the coaching staff all thought it was best for me in the long-term that I get healthy first before I aggravated it more.”

It seems like Samuelsson was close to coming back on a few occasions.

“I skated a couple of times, tested it out. There’s a couple of times where it was feeling better than other days, and I thought I’d be back," Samuelsson said. "It didn’t quite work out like that, but the medical staff here did an unbelievable job from how it felt when I came down and how it feels now. It’s a complete 180. I thank them a lot for that.”

Samuelsson did sit out two games during that stretch where he was trying to play on his injured ankle and missed a few practices.

Arttu Ruotsalainen really found his game in the final few months of the season. He finally grasped the North American style of game.

There were rumors out there that he was going to play overseas next year, which he quickly said weren’t true. Talking to him on Thursday, he says Buffalo is where he wants to be.

“I would like to be a part of the Buffalo Sabres, and that's my No. 1 goal," said Ruotsalainen during his end-of-season press conference. "I want to play in the NHL, and that's my No. 1 goal."

Ruotsalainen played 18 games in Buffalo this season, scoring two goals and two assists for four points. Quite honestly, he didn’t play very well with the Sabres.

When he went back down to Rochester, Ruotsalainen scored 18 goals and 33 assists for 51 points in 57 games. He currently is second in AHL scoring during the playoffs with 12 points. His eight goals lead the league in the playoffs.

Sam Anas of the Springfield Thunderbird has been scorching hot with 13 points in just five games.

In 36 games at the end of the year, Ruotsalainen netted 20 goals and 22 assists for 42 points.

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Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen says he was fighting a hamstring injury suffered in the final game of the regular season on April 29. He says had there been a Game 4 on Friday, he was ready to play.

Amerks captain Mike Mersch also said he would've played on Friday had there been a fourth game in the series. Rochester lost four of the five games the captain missed with a concussion. With him in the lineup, the Amerks were 4-1.

***Photo: Micheline Michaelina (@MiMiV4682)

Photo credit Losi and Gangi