5 seasons have passed since the Sabres purchased and re-affiliated with the Amerks. Â While the on-ice product has been mostly miserable and sometimes embarrassing this last half-decade, there have been some players I’ve enjoyed watching here over that time period. Â Here are 10Â (and why) in no particular order:
- Â Freddie Roy – A throwback to the 80’s and 90’s type of Amerk. Â Played like he was a foot taller than he was. Â I said no order but he is #1…and its not even close. Â #Roychester
- Travis Turnbull – Missing a lot from this time period was passion…not the case here. Â Frozen in my memory is Turnbull, after winning a spirited scrap, WWE’ing a WHOOO and pumping his fist to the crowd. Â Not sure why he wasn’t given more of an NHL looksie – could do it all really.
- Derek Whitmore – Local boy proud to wear the crest. Â Could put the puck in the net, too, which is incredibly rare here in recent years. Â Another local player may want to listen to a few of Whitmore’s interviews. #Pride Â #Respect
- Matt Mackenzie – Criminally underrated defensive Dman at this level as evidenced by a team leading +11 in 2013-2014….and I don’t think you could have opened up social media and not seen his face at a charity event during his tenure here.
- Nick Tarnasky – Scored some goals..won some fights…leader of the MERKS movement. Â Good stuff. Â I remember seeing his face looking up at the cheering crowd after an Amerk goal in game3 of the playoffs, and he REALLY wanted to see more of it.
- Evan Rankin – Always gave 110% and I got the feeling he appreciated being here. Â That may sound like a weak reason but in today’s game it is not.
- Cody McCormick – Very brief tenure and you may wonder why he’s on this list….but he was a legitimate ANIMAL during the playoff series against Toronto the Spring he was here. Â A little more of that from some others would have made all the difference.Â Amerk version of Beast Mode. Â No NHL tude – he wanted to win.
- ColtonÂ Gillies – His playoff series against Chicago SHOULD have earned him an NHL gig the following year. Â Man I would have liked to seen that for 3 more series.
- Drew Bagnall – An absolute shame his shoulder was what it was his 2 seasons here. Â This guy’s heart was vintage 80’s and 90’s Amerk. Â Despite the pain he gave all he could for this team. Â Somebody had to.
- Nick Petrecki – His taking on the entire team during our home opener finish 2 seasons ago should have set the tone for the season, but injuries derailed his contributions as well. Â This guy played hard and scrapped hard though for sure – and had unusual character versus the type of player we too often see these days.
Also noteworthy, while the on-ice product has been disappointing, there have been some fun moments off the ice, including: Â The magical Frozen Frontier, Seeing the Amerk crest in Montreal at the Bell Centre….and a well done blast of nostalgia for the 60th anniversary game. Â And while the first round losses to Toronto (albeit better than not making it at all) were not competitive – the 5 game loss to Chicago absolutely should have been a 4 game series WIN and who knows what could have happened after that.
My only thought is how sad it is that most of the players the fans enjoyed the most were shown the door as quickly as possible. No, this isn’t a popularity contest, but we knew who cared about winning down here and it’s very clear how much that matters to our parent team.
Really enjoyed it, good job! Thinking you meant Colton Gillies not Trevor. Would have loved to see all those players longer than we had them here.
Eric–I always enjoy your essays. Of all the players you mentioned…it was telling that many of them didn’t spend much time with the Amerks. They made impacts, but weren’t here long enough to really make a difference. I too really like Roy–there were nights when he was the only Amerk who looked interested in playing.
Two highlights for me in an era of lowlights….the Frozen Frontier…we did freeze our behinds off….but wouldn’t have missed it for anything…after that last second goal which nearly ruined the night…that shootout was maybe the only one that I really appreciated.
The comeback against Hershey in the anniversary game was also fun. The guys were engaged and played with a passion we rarely see anymore.
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