Grit, Guts and Goaltending Leads to Amerks 4-1 Win

The story leading up to the Rochester Americans vs Lake Erie Monsters game on Wednesday night was that the Amerks were short on players with what seems like half the team up with the Buffalo Sabres.  On paper there wasn’t much hope for the game considering they’re a squad that at times has had problems scoring goals and they were about to face the American Hockey League’s best goaltender in Cedrick Desjardins.  No one should deny that the current Amerks roster has it’s challenges against other top teams in the league but one thing is certain, this team works hard and puts everything they have out on the ice and they proved that again with a 4-1 win over the Lake Erie Monsters.

“I give a lot of credit to our guys coming back from Texas and being able to bounce back at home and put the effort there,” said Head Coach Ron Rolston.  “I think they did that tonight so we were very happy with that.” (from the Amerks press release)

Drew MacIntyre had a solid night in net for the Amerks and besides the one goal allowed he made a number of big time saves, including a glove save late in the third period that we’ve seen gone in during other games.  This was the type of game everyone would love to see out of him every night.

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(thanks to Rob Sanderson at DropThePuckWHTK for Tweeting these quotes)

Ron Rolston, Chad Cassidy and Jay McKee and the rest of the coaching staff are really working some magic getting as much as they can out of this group of players.  They all know that players would be great but that’s not slowing them down at all.  They’re finding ways to play every player and make things happen.  It’s also noticeable how active the coaches are on the bench acknowledging players after a great shift as well as giving them guidance throughout the game.  It may seem like coaching 101 but it’s things that we haven’t seen in recent years.  Rolston is getting these players ready to win and also advance their careers.  Everyone appears to enjoy playing for him, hopefully that continues.

The Amerks scored two power play goals in under 90 seconds halfway through the first period and it was a lead they were able to hold on to throughout the entire game.  Mark Voakes scored the first with assists to Travis Turnbull and Marcus Foligno.  Voakes was right where a player should be on a power play, on top of the crease waiting for rebounds or a way to deflect the puck and in this instance he got the rebound.  Dennis Persson scored the second with assists to TJ Brennan and Phil Varone.  Persson took a slap shot that somehow found a path to the back of the net.

There was no scoring in the second period but the Monsters had a number of chances with a 12-4 shot advantage over the Amerks.

The Amerks had a 5 on 3 power play opportunity early in the third period but they weren’t able to get much going.  There was puck movement but not enough to catch the Monsters defenders or Desjardins out of position.  Lake Erie Monsters head coach David Quinn had been ejected from the game after Quinn had shared an objection about a play.  From my seat I could see the coach upset but couldn’t tell exactly what was said or done that warranted the ejection.

Hugh Jessiman made it a one goal game when he scored 11:52 on the power play in the third period.  Jessiman brought the puck across the blue line and as he approached Dennis Persson he made a motion as if he was going to cut to the middle, Persson bought the move, Jessiman put a wrist shot between the pads of MacIntyre.

It was less than three minutes later when Evan Rankin gave the Amerks a two goal lead again when he scored his seventh goal of the season in 12 games.  Rankin had taken a shot on goal that was deflected behind the net by Cedrick Desjardins but Rankin followed the puck back there where he was able to get off another shot from behind the goal line that bounced off of Desjardins and into the net.  This kid has made a big impression since being called up from the Toledo Walleyes in the ECHL.  He signed a 25 game professional tryout so the Amerks have until the end of January 28th to sign the kid to an American Hockey League contract to finish out the season.

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Marcus Foligno closed out the scoring with an empty net goal with 23 seconds left on the clock.  That’s not too bad for a guy who just finished playing five games in six nights spread out over 2,000 miles.  He played the three games on the road for the Amerks in San Antonio, Austin and Houston.  He then flew back to Rochester and drove to Ottawa to play with the Sabres on Tuesday night before returning to Rochester for Wednesday night.  After all of that travel he ended the night with a goal and an assist.

Former Buffalo Sabres defenseman Mike Foligno, and father of Marcus, was in the stands at the War Memorial watching his son play some hockey.  He also got to see Marcus play on Tuesday in Ottawa.  He’s unemployed after being fired from the Ducks, maybe the Sabres should offer him a coaching position too!

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The two new players had little impact on the game but they had their moments.  Igor Gongalsky was strong along the boards and was winning some battles for the puck.  Scott Campbell didn’t play much after the first period but won a few face offs.  Campbell had to catch a midnight flight out of Las Vegas and travelled overnight to play in Rochester on Wednesday.

Shaone Morrisonn sat the game out serving his one game suspension for an elbow last Friday against the San Antonio Rampage.

Here’s an additional view of the game from a long time Amerks fan named Ted (insagt1) that posted the following in the forums:

Amerks probably had no business winning this game tonight. But they did. They led all the way. They were outshot 34-17. Lately they haven’t been getting many shots. Or power play goals. Tonight they scored two quick improbable power play goals in the 1st period; then went into a defensive almost desperate shell in the 2nd and 3rd but still came away with a 4-1 win.

They don’t give you the two points for form or style or even entertainment value. They award the points for scoring more goals than the opponent. Mission accomplished in front of (IMO) a surprisingly decent Wednesday night crowd of just over 4.300.

How big was the win? They built on the surprise win in Houston and they now go on a week’s break with 2 straight wins under their belt and a little bit of hope for better things to come. Rankin with another goal. A big goal to restore a two goal lead in the 3rd. The guy is making an impression. And then Foligno, playing his 5th game in 6 days potting the empty netter to seal the deal.

MacIntyre was sensational and kept the team in the game when they fell asleep in the 2nd and hung on for dear life in the 3rd.

For me tonight, ALL that mattered was that they won. I don’t care how they did it; or if they were pretty ragged doing it. Look at that lineup and tell me you weren’t impressed that they beat a divisional opponent. Or beat anyone for that matter.

Major props. Big win. Nice job guys.

I agree with everything that he said!  It was a great win for a team that has everything stacked up against them but they continue to put everything they have on the ice and support each other.  When they do these things they win games.

The Amerks are now off for Christmas break before heading to Oklahoma City next week to play two back to back games on the road and will return home next Friday December 30th against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Box Score:

Lake Erie Monsters 1 at Rochester Americans 4 – Status: Final
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 – Blue Cross Arena

Lake Erie 0 0 1 – 1
Rochester 2 0 2 – 4

1st Period-1, Rochester, Voakes 3 (Turnbull, Foligno), 12:25 (PP). 2, Rochester, Persson 1 (Brennan, Varone), 13:49 (PP). Penalties-Newton Le (hooking), 12:07; Rissmiller Le (slashing), 13:09.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Mauldin Le (interference), 7:05; Voakes Rch (interference), 11:55; Mercier Le (unsportsmanlike conduct, goaltender interference), 13:23; Crawford Rch (holding), 13:53.

3rd Period-3, Lake Erie, Jessiman 12 (Gaunce), 11:52 (PP). 4, Rochester, Rankin 7   14:12. 5, Rochester, Foligno 10 (Rankin, Turnbull), 19:37 (EN). Penalties-Brennan Le (roughing), 8:16; served by Bordeleau Le (bench minor – unsportsmanlike conduct, game misconduct – coach), 8:21; Turnbull Rch (slashing), 9:58; Legault Rch (tripping), 17:07.

Shots on Goal-Lake Erie 7-12-15-34. Rochester 8-4-5-17.
Power Play Opportunities-Lake Erie 1 / 4; Rochester 2 / 7.
Goalies-Lake Erie, Desjardins 7-5-1 (16 shots-13 saves). Rochester, MacIntyre 5-9-1 (34 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Keith Kaval (40), Darcy Burchell (42).
Linesmen-Fraser McIntyre (94), Chris Woodworth (17).