Amerks sign four players to AHL contracts

Rochester Americans General Manager Jason Karmanos announced today that the team has signed forward Dominic Franco and defensemen Mitch Eliot, Nick Boka and Matthew Cairns to one-year American Hockey League contracts for the 2021-22 season.

Franco, 25, returns to Rochester after recording nine points (4+5) in 23 games as a rookie with the Amerks during the 2020-21 campaign.

Prior to turning pro, the Portsmouth, R.I., native completed a four-year collegiate career at West Point (AHA), where he registered 97 points (45+52) in 141 games with the Black Knights from 2016-2020. As four-year starter, Franco garnered Atlantic Hockey All-Conference Second Team honors following his senior season after posting a team-leading 22 multi-point games, including seven multi-assist performances and four multi-goal contests.

Franco’s best season came during the 2017-18 campaign when he paced all Army skaters with a career-high 30 points as a sophomore while also leading the team with six multi-point performances.

Eliot, 23, comes to Rochester after spending the entire 2020-21 campaign with the Utica Comets (AHL), recording four assists in 26 games. The 6-foot-0, 190-pound defenseman began his pro career in 2019-20 when he combined for eight points (3+5) in 34 games between the Comets and Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Before to turning pro, Eliot spent two seasons with the Sarnia Sting (OHL), registering 58 points on 19 goals and 39 assists in 82 games from 2017-19. Additionally, he added three assists in 16 postseason contests. The Orange County, Calif., native also tallied eight points (2+6) in 51 games at Michigan State University (Big-10) from 2016-18.

Boka, 23, comes to the Amerks after appearing in 44 games with the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL), where he produced 18 points (4+14) in 44 games. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound blueliner finished the season third among all Komets defensemen in both assists and points, while also helping Fort Wayne claim the Kelly Cup as he recorded a pair of assists in 13 playoff contests.

As a rookie during the 2019-20 season, Boka, a Plymouth, Mich. native, spent the season with the Allen Americans (ECHL), where he tied for sixth in assists (8) and eighth in points (9) among all team defensemen.

Prior to turning pro, Boka completed a four-year collegiate career at the University of Michigan (Big-10), where he registered 30 points (6+24) in 147 games from 2015-19. Once joining the Wolverines as a freshman in 2015-16, Boka made an immediate impact as he appeared in all 38 games while leading all first-year skaters with 10 assists and a plus/minus on-ice rating of plus-17.

Boka was originally drafted in sixth round (171st overall) by the Minnesota Wild in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Cairns, 23, joins the organization after spending the 2020-21 season at the University of Minnesota of Duluth (NCHC), posting six assists in 28 contests. Before joining the Bulldogs, Cairns played his first three collegiate years at Cornell University (ECAC), where he totaled three goals and three assists in 61 games from 2017-2020.

Cairns also played parts of three seasons in juniors between the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL), Georgetown Raiders (OJHL), Fargo Force (USHL) and Powell River Kings (BCHL). In 134 career games from 2014-17, he recorded 63 points (12+51) while also claiming two OJHL Championships.

Cairns was originally drafted in third round (84th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2016 NHL Draft.