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.