Hard Nosed Hockey Leads Amerks to Tie Series

Saturday night in Rochester was the definition of playoff hockey.  The Rochester Americans defeated the Abbotsford Heat in game 2 on Saturday night, an excellent rebound of a game from the way they played on Thursday night.

“It’s playoff hockey and both teams were trying to set the tone and trying to get the teams going,” Shawn Matthias said.  “It’s going to be a long series so we wanted to show them we’re not scared of them.  If you watch they’re always starting things after every whistle so we’re responding well and trying to play a hard nosed style.”

That’s not a style of hockey the Amerks have had to play every other night but it’s what they’re going to have to do in this seven game series against the Abbotsford Heat.

“We knew we needed to win this game,” Tyler Plante said talking about the game.  “Tonight it really felt like playoff hockey, we worked hard for 60 minutes and I really give the team credit for that.”

Plante was excellent in net and proved he should have been the starter to begin with in this playoff series.  The only goal scored on him in this series was not all his fault.  Plante plays a no nonsense style of hockey in net.  If a player gets into his crease he’ll stand up and clear the player out.  If someone hits him he’ll hit them back.  His level of confidence in the crease is what is needed this time of year.

Plante said, “Sometimes in playoffs you get a little heated more than you usually do.”

“It’s a style he likes.  He’s very intense.  He doesn’t let anyone abuse him obviously but one thing is that he got involved but kept his poise,” Benoit Groulx said.  “They’re job is to get his focus out and I really feel he was in control tonight.”

During the post game press conference Benoit Groulx was asked if Plante was getting the start on Monday night and Groulx laughed and said, “I’ll think about it and announce it the day before.”

At the end of the second period as Plante was skating off the ice he had some words with the Abbotsford Heat bench.  Supposedly one of the Heat players squirted water at Plante and he answered back by tossing his water bottle at the bench.  Some more words were exchanged before Tyler was yelled at to get off the ice.

Here’s some more and a summary of the scoring…

John Lammers scored first at 15:43 of the first period to give the Heat a 1-0 lead.  Mark Mitera took the initial shot from the blue line and Mathieu Roy pretended to be a goalie for a minute stopping the puck with his glove but as he did that he lost sight of it.  The same happened to Tyler Plante.  Lammers was the first to find it and put it through the five hole of Plante.

When asked if there was any type of panic after going down by a goal early Jeff Taffe answered, “I think we realize what we have to do and its a different story if we’re not playing well in the first period and we’re not getting any chances.  There was no panic and I think it was one of our better games in a really long time.”

Victor Oreskovich had a great chance about two minutes into the second period to beat Shantz glove side into an open net but unfortunately his stick was not able to connect with the puck.

A couple minutes later Jason Garrison tied the game with a slap shot from the blue line that deflected off of the pads of David Shantz and into the net.  Graham Mink was doing a great job screening Shantz in front of the net.  The pad of Shantz was angled in just a way that the puck slid off of it and into the net, about half an inch pointing further out and it would have gone off to the side of the net.

Mike Duco scored the game winning goal at 9:00 of the second period off a poorly played puck by Shantz.  Carl Hudson dumped the puck in from behind the blue line and Jamie Johnson raced in after it and was able to poke it away and Mike Duco was there to put it in the net.

Graham Mink added a goal at 17:40 of the second period to make it a 3-1 game as he deflected a Jason Garrison shot past Shantz.  Mink seems to be a different player after only two games into the playoffs.  The puck seems to be finding his stick more than it was already in the second half of the regular season.  As the playoffs go on we’ll see how valuable Mink is to this team.  He’s the type of player that goalies absolutely hate having to deal with.

The fourth goal of the game by Jeff Taffe was the type of goal we’d expect to see out of this team.  Mike York fed a perfect pass to Shawn Matthias skating down one side of the ice.  Matthias had Taffe on the other side on a two on one and fed a pass to Taffe who easily beat David Shantz.

“It’s a dog fight now, we’re going to have to play every game like it’s game number seven,” Tyler Plante said after the game.

The Amerks were taking a bus to Toronto after the game and flying out of Toronto on Sunday morning to Fraser Valley where the Abbotsford Heat play.  It’s going to be a long day of travel for both teams but it’s something they all say that they are well prepared for.  The Heat have not been at home since April 6th and have been a better road team all season than home team so the next game in terms of mentally should be in favor of the Amerks.

I’ll probably fire up the live chat on Monday night for game 3.


Abbotsford Heat 1 At Rochester Americans 4 – Status: Final
Apr 17, 2010 – Blue Cross Arena

Abbotsford 1 0 0 – 1
Rochester 0 3 1 – 4

1st Period-1, Abbotsford, Lammers 1 (Mitera, Backlund), 15:43. Penalties-Plante Rch (roughing), 2:48; Pelech Abb (fighting), 4:14; Roy Rch (fighting), 4:14; Baldwin Abb (high-sticking), 6:14; Spurgeon Abb (interference), 10:15.

2nd Period-2, Rochester, Garrison 1 (York, Taffe), 3:53 (pp). 3, Rochester, Duco 1 (Johnson, Hudson), 9:00. 4, Rochester, Mink 1 (Garrison, York), 17:40 (pp). Penalties-Duco Rch (hooking), 2:15; Seabrook Abb (elbowing), 2:34; Sutter Abb (hooking), 3:33; Weller Abb (delay of game), 17:27; Taylor Rch (hooking), 18:25; Murray Abb (roughing), 20:00; Roy Rch (roughing), 20:00.

3rd Period-5, Rochester, Taffe 1 (Matthias, York), 5:23. Penalties-Bancks Abb (fighting), 17:58; Matthias Rch (fighting), 17:58; Mitera Abb (fighting), 18:19; Murray Abb (roughing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:19; Spurgeon Abb (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:19; Weller Abb (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:19; MacIntyre Rch (roughing, roughing, misconduct), 18:19; Mink Rch (fighting), 18:19.

Shots on Goal-Abbotsford 8-7-16-31. Rochester 5-14-4-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Abbotsford 0 of 3; Rochester 2 of 5.
Goalies-Abbotsford, Shantz 1-1-0 (23 shots-19 saves). Rochester, Plante 1-0-0 (31 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Chris Ciamaga (41).
Linesmen-Tim Kotyra (53), Brian Lemon (25).