Amerks Lose Home Opener in Overtime

The Rochester Americans home opener on Saturday night was supposed to have ended with a win and made headlines on the 11 o’clock news casts.  It didn’t really end that way.. but it wasn’t a bad game.

A few changes at the arena for the new season were positives.  The new team store had some new merchandise, the party deck appeared to get busier as the night went on, and the between play entrainment seemed to be a little better.

The food that SMG provides still sucks.

The new opening video featured Jody Gage and Ted Nolan talking about what it means to be a Rochester American.  A lot of great words spoken by two great guys.  I recorded it from my seats, turn up the volume.

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Back to the game.. after watching tonight’s game it’s easy to notice that the team is still missing a few key players and is playing with a few players that shouldn’t be playing at this level.

It was also obvious in the seats that a few key fans are missing as well.  The attendance on the game sheet lists 4,124.  I would have added another 2,000 people to that number if someone had asked me to guess.  A horrible crowd for a home opener but it’s tough to really blame people for staying away.  It’s up to the team to win on the ice and hope it gets fans back into the building.

Tyler Plante of the Rochester Americans
Tyler Plante of the Rochester Americans

The number of people in the seats may have seemed low but it wasn’t a quiet crowd by any means that we had gotten used to last season.  Tyler Plante recognized those in the crowd when he said, “The fans have just been great this first game.  They were really behind us and we really appreciate that.  I know we had a tough year last year and for them to be in high spirits the first game was really nice to see.”

Tyler Plante was the star of the game for the Amerks in goal.  Three goals were scored against him but he stopped enough quality scoring chances by the Monsters to keep the Amerks in the game.

“He played awesome, he kept us in it, he kept it close, he got us the point.  If he can keep playing like that he’s looking good for us back there,” Keaton Ellerby said after the game about Plante.

Clay Wilson scored the first goal of the game and the season at 3:07 of the first period on the power play.  The play started with Graham Mink taking the puck out of the corner and to the front of the net where he tried to stuff the puck under the pads of Tyler Weiman.  The initial save was made and Mink took the rebound, kicked it back to Mike York who took a shot and Clay Wilson was there for the rebound.

Kenndal McArdle put the Amerks ahead 2-0 at 11:46 of the second period when he scored a short handed goal assisted by Jamie Johnson.  Johnson bumped into Marty Sertich of the Lake Erie Monsters, stole the puck, and quickly skated in on Monsters goaltender Tyler Weiman.  McArdle was rushing down the opposite side and took a clean pass from Johnson to beat a sliding Weiman.

From there it was downhill.

About five minutes later Brian Willsie scored a short handed goal on a clean breakaway in on Tyler Plante and he took a hard shot glove side to get the Monsters within a goal.

Benoit Groulx said, “I really feel we were in control and that play kind of changed the momentum.”

The second goal was scored after Jordan Henry was tripped by a Monsters player who had his stick between those of Henry.  There was no call made and the puck was pushed out into an open and waiting Philippe Dupuis who was one on one with Plante.  Dupuis won and scored to tie the game 2-2.

Jordan Henry didn’t really make a big deal of the situation and neither did the coaching staff.  Henry commented saying, “Whoever is in charge of that will see the tape and they’ll do what they gotta do about it.  Either way, we cant turn that puck over and it cost us a goal and it cost us a win.”

It’s easy for the fans or myself to blame the refs for the loss but that’s not something the coaches or players will do.  They’ll take a look at the play and find something to talk about other than the missed call.  “Bottom line just have to protect that puck a little better, that kind of stuff just cant happen,” Henry said.

Neither team scored in the remaining 10 minutes of the third period or the first 4:54 of the overtime seassion.  The Monsters game winning goal was scored when Darren Haydar took a shot and Philippe Dupuis was waiting in front of the net to easily slide it past Plante.

Talking about the third goal Plante said, “the third goal the puck slid to a guy wide open and i tried my best, I just couldnt get there in time.  It’s too bad because the boys played great for me tonight.”

It was a disappointing loss.  The team started off great and the game took it’s toll on those asked to play more than they should have.  If the team we saw in the first period is the team that starts showing up for three periods we’re in for a great season.

“To me the positive side is we have a point with a very short lineup,” Benoit Groulx said.

The Amerks will be making some lineup changes in the next couple of days as the Florida Panthers return from Finland.  We’ll see the return of Michal Repik, Mike Duco, Jasson Garrison, Jeff Taffe, Victor Oreskovich, and Alexander Salak.