Schenectady native Nick Petrecki may finally get to play in a pro playoff series.
The fifth-year pro defenseman was loaned last week by San Jose to the AHL’s Rochester Americans.
He had been playing for San Jose affiliate Worcester, which is on the outside looking in entering this weekend, 11 points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff berth with 15 games to play. Rochester, which is affiliated with the Buffalo Sabres, entered the weekend in seventh place in the Western Conference with 70 points, four ahead of ninth-place Oklahoma City and seven behind fourth-place Chicago.
“I was really excited,” Petrecki said. “I know they’re pushing for a playoff spot, and up and down their roster, it’s a good group of older and younger guys. It’s a new city, new faces and a fresh start for me. It’ll be nice to, hopefully, these last 14 games, play well and hopefully play some playoff hockey.”
Petrecki’s contract expires at the end of the season, so the chance to play in the playoffs can only boost his stock when talking to prospective employers in the offseason.
“This is a fresh start, not only for the rest of this year, but also my career,” he said. “I’ve been in the league quite a bit here, and it’s only been with one organization. To be able to hop over and play here, learn the system a bit, I’m looking to keep playing next year, to earn a contract for next year. If that’s going to be with Rochester, with Buffalo, with San Jose, I have no idea.
“Everybody wants players who have played playoff hockey and guys who have come from winning teams. This kind of sets it up nice, hopefully get into the playoffs and do well in the playoffs. Certainly, I’m playing for a job.”
The Amerks didn’t fare so well last weekend, Petrecki’s first with the team, going 0-2-1-0
with a pair of losses to Binghamton. He used the weekend, though, to get used to his new teammates and systems.
Five of Rochester’s 14 remaining games are against division-leading Toronto, but the Amerks also have five against teams currently out of the playoff picture that are fighting to get in.
Speaking of fighting, Petrecki did so in the first period of his first game with Rochester. He now has 536 penalty minutes in 280 AHL games. He also has eight goals and 37 assists.
“It was a little different over the weekend, but you kind of pick it up as you go,” he said. “There were only a few minor differences, but I’ll keep working with the coaches and keep asking questions. The more I play, the more I’m going to feel comfortable.”